2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 27 May 2003 20:22:50 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Military: Ease laws on animal protection
Monday, May 26, 2003
Military: Ease laws on animal protection

WASHINGTON  At the Brunswick Naval Air Station, officials avoid mowing
grass off the north end of the runways during the summer to protect two
kinds of rare birds.

At the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, workers routinely rescue
fish and lobsters from the dry docks before the last of the water is
pumped out. That practice protects endangered shortnose sturgeon, which
inhabit the Piscataqua River.

How the military deals with endangered species is being scrutinized by
Congress because the Pentagon has asked for legislation to relax the
requirements of two 30-year-old conservation laws: the Endangered
Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

While Maine bases cope quietly with their rare animals and plants,
controversy has flared over potential threats to whales in the North
Atlantic from bombing runs and sonar. Defense officials contend that the
restrictions have hindered crucial training elsewhere across the country
and in the oceans. At Camp Pendleton, for example, the California
gnatcatcher limits how much beach the Marines can use.

The Defense Department has, in effect, asked to be able to write its own
plans for how to deal with endangered species on its 425 bases, which
encompass 25 million acres. It also seeks to relax restrictions that
protect marine mammals, such as seals and whales. Currently, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service can
declare property off limits to protect plants or animals.

But critics of the proposed changes complain they are unnecessary
because the military has avoided the animals for decades without
sacrificing training.

The conflict rekindled last week as the House and Senate approved
conflicting legislation setting defense policies and $400 billion in
spending priorities for the Defense Department. All four members of
Maine's congressional delegation fought the provisions in some way.

The Pentagon sought changes in five conservation and pollution laws. The
House agreed to two, while the Senate dropped nearly everything.
Lawmakers will negotiate a compromise that seeks to balance military
preparedness with environmental protection.

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