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Published February 12, 2010, 08:54 PM

Public Hearings On UAVs Held In Region

The U.S. Air Force's draft Environmental Impact Study for the potential Beddown of Global Hawk and Predator UAVs at Grand Forks Air Force Base was the topic of discussion at four public hearings in North Dakota this week.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

The U.S. Air Force's draft Environmental Impact Study for the potential Beddown of Global Hawk and Predator UAVs at Grand Forks Air Force Base was the topic of discussion at four public hearings in North Dakota this week.

The final hearing was held in Grand Forks today. People there had mixed feelings about it. Some see it as a great opportunity for people in the area; others were a bit more skeptical.

The U.S. Airforce's draft Environmental Impact Study, or EIS, looks at the impact the UAVs will have on the region. This must be done before the unmanned aerial system mission can start up. Many people at the meeting tonight say they support the UASs coming to the base.

Jeff Kappenman/Supports UAS Mission: "This is outstanding. This is part of the reason that I came back to where I basically went to college."

Other people aren't sold on the idea. Ray Dohman says he's suspicious of what the UAVs will be used for, and that they won't benefit people in the area.

Ray Dohman/Opposes UAS Mission: "I really don't want them flying around here. They're of no value to us or this country."

The hearings are a follow up to scoping meetings held in October of 2008. The environmental study looks at the economic and environmental impacts on the region as well as airspace use.

Bill O'Keefe/Learning More About UAS Mission: "We're concerned about restrictive airspace and how restrictive it is, how frequently it would be active."

O'Keefe says he thinks the missions are an exciting opportunity for the area. He wasn't the only one who supports the mission, but believes it needs to be planned carefully to succeed.

Mike Corcoran/Supports UAS Mission: "Absolutely necessary, enjoyed, but needs to be thought through thoroughly."

The public comment period ends on March 1. The EIS should be completed in August.

Earlier this week hearings were also held in Langdon, Carrington, and Devils Lake.

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