Owyhee Military Airspace Expansion

Owyhee Military Airspace Expansion

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Jan 22, 2024

Case Title:
Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of the Nevada Wilderness, and Idaho Conservation League v. U.S. Department of the Air Force

Staff attorney(s):
Lizzy Potter
Laird J. Lucas


Oregon Natural Desert Association

Friends of the Nevada Wilderness

Idaho Conservation League

To Protect:

Wilderness Areas

Wild and Scenic Rivers


Bighorn Sheep


Case Information:

January 22, 2024 — Advocates for the West filed suit challenging the Air Force’s decision to expand and intensify its military trainings using F-15 fighter jets over Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Owyhee Canyonlands of Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada, threatening key sage-grouse strongholds, as well as bighorn sheep and other wildlife.

The decision allows low-altitude supersonic and subsonic fighter training exercises across some 7.5 million acres of the Owyhee Canyonlands, lowering the “floor” for military jets to train as low as 100 feet above ground level for subsonic flights. The trainings would generating significant noise, visual intrusions, and pollution in largely pristine and quiet natural landscapes, and disturb sage-grouse other sensitive species.

As part of these military training exercises, the Air Force also plans to drop nearly 19,000 chaff bundles—comprised of millions of aluminum-coated glass fibers in canisters—and 18,000 flares annually, amounting to dozens each day. This will disperse debris and pollution across roughly 12,000 square miles, including into waterways, and pose a serious risk of wildfire.

Case Filings