Airspace Challenges Part of 2018 Western Regional Partnership Principals’ Meeting Held in New Mexico

Senior leaders from state, federal and tribal agencies gathered November 14-15 for the 2018 Western Regional Partnership’s (WRP) Principals’ Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A Plenary Session on Airspace Challenges and Opportunities was presented and covered the mix of civil, military and unmanned aerial systems in the national airspace.

WRP Co-Chairs Mr. Mike Mower, Deputy Chief of Staff, Utah Governor’s Office (for the Honorable Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah); Ms. Allison Sands, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Infrastructure (representing Mr. Robert McMahon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment) and Mr. John F. Ruhs, Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation, Bureau of Land Management, (for Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of Interior) welcomed the 133 senior policy-level leaders (and their staff) in attendance, noting their interest in a productive meeting for the attendees. New Mexico welcoming remarks were provided by Keith Gardner, Chief of Staff for New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.

Mr. Mike Mower and Brigadier General USAF (Ret) Hanson Scott, former Chair of the WRP Steering Committee (SC), provided an overview of WRP, including significant events since its formation in 2007, and presented on key decision items for this meeting. The Hanson Scott Leadership award was bestowed upon Mr. Dwight Deakin.  The Tribal invocation was provided by Council members Idak Fierro, Chief Operations Officer, Pueblo of Pojoaque. The three Committees (Energy; Natural Resources; and Military Readiness, Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness & Aviation) and two WRP Working Groups (BLM Planning and Tribal Engagement) provided updates, summarizing their past year’s efforts and recommendations.

Two keynotes of significant efforts were given.  Ms. Amy Lueders, Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, highlighted the U.S. Department of Interior Reorganization.  Mr. Paul Enriquez, Acquisition, Real Estate, and Environmental Director, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS, highlighted the latest efforts regarding Border Walls and other Security Initiatives along the Southwest Border.

The bulk of the meeting consisted of four Plenary Sessions on:

– 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS)

– Airspace Challenges and Opportunities

– Public Lands, Species, Energy and Water

– Effective Partnerships and Best Practices for Coordinated Planning

At the business session, the 2018-2019 priority focused on “Advancing Compatible Planning in the West for America’s Defense, Energy, Environment and Infrastructure through Enhancing Collaboration among Federal, State and Tribal Entities” was adopted. The WRP Charter, and WRP Mission/Vision document were reaffirmed.  The WRP SC Subcommittee on GIS was sunsetted and the WRP GIS Liaisons empowered to work directly with their Committee and the WRP SC. The WRP 2019 Resolution process were adopted as well as 2018-2019 WRP SC leadership selected (DoD: Kristin Thomasgard (Lead Co-Chair); State: Mike Mower and DOI: Casey Hammond).  It was announced that the 2019 WRP Principals’ Meeting will take place on November 19-20 in San Diego, CA.  Attendees were encouraged to read the 2018 Report given all the significant information and resources captured in that document and to sign up for a WRP account at to receive future WRP updates.

Following the business session and some additional remarks, the meeting was adjourned.  Afterwards, NRCS hosted a tour of several significant natural and cultural resources in the area and the Tribal Working Group held a meeting to advance efforts.