2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@cpeo.org>
Date: 11 Jun 2003 14:02:45 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] New Highway Planned Across Goldwater Range

Gov. task force should review encroachment effects of Yuma Area Service Hwy.

NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Center for Biological Diversity

Contact: Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist 520.623.5252 x 306 or 906.2159

YUMA -- As Governor Napolitano holds the first meeting of Arizona's Military Facilities Taskforce this morning in Phoenix, the state and federal governments have plans underway to build a major highway across the west side of the Barry M. Goldwater Range. The Range is a powerful advantage for the state, said Deb Sydenham, director of the Arizona statewide compatibility project. "It is essentially the jewel of the whole military system we have in the state." Arizona Daily Star, Billions are at stake in keeping military units, June 9, 2003.

The Yuma Area Service Highway would link the proposed port of entry at San Luis to I-8, cutting east and north on a remote route through the Range and important habitat for the imperiled flat-tailed horned lizard and other Sonoran desert wildlife. The proposed route encourages urban sprawl and traffic to the east of fast-growing Yuma that will undermine the military mission and wildlife habitat values. The estimated cost of the highway is $86,700,000.

"It makes no sense to build a new highway in the middle of nowhere across a military range and endangered wildlife habitat," said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Governor and task force should take a hard look at this recipe for encroachment, and direct ADOT to choose a smarter alternative to the west that avoids the Goldwater Range and wildlife areas."

The highway project's National Environment Policy Act analysis is being done through an quick environmental assessment, rather than a full environmental impact statement. The Federal Highway Administration is the lead agency, with the Arizona Department of Transportation and Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization cooperating as the proponents of the project. However, the Federal Highway Administration's own regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, which appear at 23 CFR Part 771, require a more detailed environmental impact statement for a new controlled access freeway (23 CFR 771.115(a)(1) and a highway project of four or more lanes on a new location. (23 CFR 771.115(a)(2). The public comment period on the environmental assessment for the highway is open until June 27.

There is virtually no analysis in the thin environmental assessment of the military base encroachment issue, either from the highway project or cumulative future actions on or adjacent to the Barry M. Goldwater Range. There is very little analysis of affects to wildlife. Local citizens groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Yuma Audubon Society are not opposed to the new San Luis port. They are calling for a more westerly highway route, which would avoid the BMGR and sensitive wildlife habitat areas.

Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095
Email: aimeeh@cpeo.org

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