JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
JBER encompasses 79,000 acres, many of which are used as training areas. These areas are in high demand which require a delicate balance between ensuring military readiness and providing ample opportunities for recreation.
A top priority at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is to maintain and strengthen partnerships within Alaska communities. One way JBER does this is by opening its land for public use when there are no training activities taking place. JBER is a keen observer of the Sikes Act which enables public use of government lands.
“This is all about keeping people safe,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Patricia Csànk, former 673d Air Base Wing and JBER commander. “We’ve got to ensure the range is safe for our service members to use for combat readiness training.
Training Areas are established by Range Control to facilitate live-fire weapons training by units assigned to or training at JBER. It is also used by law enforcement agencies to conduct their training. Mounted and unmounted operations occur throughout, with up to .50-caliber rounds being fired on a routine basis. The TAs also offer unique opportunities for joint and coalition training, which strengthens alliances across the Pacific area of responsibility.
To ensure service members are fit to fight, they must spend numerous hours in these areas honing the skills necessary to remain combat ready in order to protect the interest of the United States.
Those wanting to recreate on JBER lands must utilize the interactive website iSportsman at
https://jber.isportsman.net. The website is used to keep the public informed about which parts of the installation are open for public recreation through iSportsman. Both military members and members of the public are required to register for and login to iSportsman every time they plan to hike, bike, ski, fish, gather berries, or any of several other outdoor activities permitted on JBER. Use of this website allows for range control, ensuring training can take place when there will be no risk of public safety.
"Current JBER Range Control policy states that if there is more than a one-in-a-million chance that any person will be injured or killed by live-fire training, the risks are too high and firing cannot continue,” said U.S. Army Col. Jacob A. Peterson, United States Army Alaska Director of Operations. “While public safety will always be our number one priority, we must also consider that a significant number of man-hours are lost every year due to personnel in training zones. Those lost training hours potentially undermine readiness for future combat operations."
“Service members spend numerous hours in the training areas honing their skills and maintaining their combat readiness, this does not mean all areas are permanently closed,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Staples, former 673 Civil Engineer Group commander. “While certain parts of JBER’s southern training areas are permanently closed for public safety reasons, other areas will remain open to outdoor enthusiasts.”
To ensure safety when recreating at JBER, an important thing to remember is to only enter through an authorized Access Point. If caught accessing the land using other areas, violators will be ticketed. All potential recreators should check into iSportsman to guarantee training is not occurring and will not begin in the area of recreation.
Col. Csànk appreciates the strong bond that exists between the military and local communities and the open communication this partnership provides. “Earning and preserving your trust as a partner is one of my top priorities,” Csànk said. “I am grateful for the dialogue and support you have extended to my team over the past several months as we have worked to ensure a safe, responsible balance between our mission to secure our nation’s interests while facilitating compatible public recreational use of JBER lands.”