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Joseph W. McQuaid: Air station land should be returned to the state
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte should do more than to have the New Boston military reservation opened up to more military veterans. They ought to launch a comprehensive effort to return vast portions of this 2,826 acre jewel to the people of New Hampshire.
Here is a news bulletin for the Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force: World War II is over.
During and after that war, the vast site was used for bombing practice for crews from Grenier Field and Pease (both long since returned to civilian use) and other nearby air stations. As times changed, the facility became a satellite tracking station, a mission it still serves, but on a much smaller footprint.
As our correspondent, Simon Rios, noted in his Monday story, the site with its ponds and forests was open to the public for recreation from 1960 until 1998. But when unexploded bombs were discovered, it was again closed off.
That made sense, as did clearing the area of such ordnance thereafter. While there will always be the chance of finding more, the Air Force knows the risk is minimal, which is why it has now reopened much of the site. A brief safety session is given to visitors. But unless you are a civilian Department of Defense worker, or a relative of one, or a military veteran of at least 20 years' service, you can't enter.
This site is larger than some state and federal parks in New Hampshire. It is home to deer, bear, moose, fish and dozens of campsites near four ponds. And let's not forget the tennis courts.
It is long, long past the time when this site should be returned to New Hampshire. Senators Shaheen and Ayotte are in the perfect position to lead the effort.
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