Gowen Field Passed Over for F-35 Mission, Named 'Reasonable Alternative' 

The U.S. Air Force indicated Alabama and Wisconsin are its preferred choices.

Gowen Field has, for now, been passed over for a mission of state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets. The U.S. Air Force instead described the Boise airfield as a "reasonable alternative" to the bases it selected as primary choices for the fighters—Truax Field in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama.

Though the news came as a blow to city and state leaders, their hopes of having 18-24 F-35s stationed at Gowen isn't entirely extinguished. Though the Air Force indicated Alabama and Wisconsin are its preferred choices, Boise is not completely out of the running, and environmental impact assessments will still be conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency and a third party to determine whether Gowen Field is a suitable staging area for the aircraft.

"Although we are disappointed that Gowen Field will not receive primary consideration as a site for the F-35 mission, as a reasonable alternative we will undergo the same evaluations as the four other primary and alternative locations," wrote Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in a press release.

Other reasonable alternative airfields include Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida.

State and local officials have long pressed for the fighter jets, citing their likely economic impact on Boise and southwestern Idaho. An awareness campaign, Gowen Strong, was created to gin up public approval for a fighter wing being stationed at the field.

Their efforts, however, were bitterly opposed by neighborhood associations and people living near the airport. Monty Mericle, a member Citizens for a Livable Boise, a group that cropped up to oppose the mission, said the jets would "tear this community apart," and when city leaders were invited to a CLB-organized event in June, none attended, claiming community meetings discussing the mission had been "hijacked" by CLB members.

In part, the consternation was caused by a lack of research into how the jets might affect people living near Gowen Field—research that will now be conducted as part of the upcoming environmental impact assessments.

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