Located in Imperial County, near the California cities of El Centro and Imperial, Naval Air Facility El Centro encompasses 2,700 acres, in addition to 54,000 acres of ranges and 218,000 acres of restricted airspace (R-2510 and R-2512). The base conducts approximately 83,000 flight operations per year and supports flight training for active duty, reserve, and foreign military units. The installation provides a relatively remote desert location with excellent flying weather and range availability, and serves as the winter home of the Navy's Blue Angels. Seven to 12 squadrons train at El Centro each month. The ranges contain Navy-controlled target areas, a parachute drop target with three parachute drop zones, and ground range facilities to support training activities.
The Navy updated the El Centro Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) study in 2010, released Baseline (2010) and Prospective Future (2020) noise contours to local governments, and an update to the Range Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (RAICUZ) study is underway. The projected 2020 contours include modest increases to flight operations and next generation aircraft. Updated noise contours extend beyond the 1997 contours that local governments currently use for land use planning purposes.
Predominant surrounding land uses include agriculture and open space, with pockets of residential and commercial development around the installation such as the unincorporated community of Seeley. The updated 2010 AICUZ noise contours extend into the cities of Imperial and El Centro. Compatibility planning challenges include residential development in high noise areas, Bird Aircraft Strike Hazards, potential lighting and dust problems from proposed recreational development, possible expansion of the international commerce corridor with Mexico, commercial cargo airport, renewable energy development, and overall urban growth in the region.
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to sponsor a Joint Land Use Study in August 2011, with participation from the cities of El Centro and Imperial. Using assistance from consultants, in-house staff and support from the City of Imperial, Imperial County proposes to identify land use issues that may impact the operational utility of NAF El Centro, identify actions that participating jurisdictions and stakeholders can pursue to prevent such impacts, and create an action plan to implement those recommendations. The JLUS is projected for completion in Summer 2013.
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