|From:||CPEO Moderator <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||25 Jul 2003 19:17:16 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Needed: An Endangered Marines Act|
TECH CENTRAL STATION Needed: An Endangered Marines Act By Dana Joel Gattuso 07/25/2003 "Our new radar -- it's a remarkable scientific achievement capable of spotting an intruder in the air at quite a long range... But we can't get permission to put her up [on top of the mountain from] the National Park Service... The Wildlife Preservation Society is raising hell too." - the 1970 movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" The very idea that laws protecting fish and fowl can stand in the way of military readiness seems like a Hollywood drama. Yet, this plot is playing out today on U.S. military bases. And the General Accounting Office reports that environmental groups are continuously and successfully challenging the Wildlife Services' determinations on critical habitat, "resulting in more and more designations." According to the Pentagon, federal regulations governing endangered species are the number one obstacle facing defense-training efforts. As the government continues to designate more land for "critical habitat," subject to protection under the Endangered Species Act, a large and growing amount of U.S. military property is off-limits to training and weapons testing. Consider: -At Camp Pendleton, California, the only amphibious training base on the West Coast, regulations protecting the tidewater goby fish and other "endangered" and "threatened" species have reduced the amount of beach available to the Marine Corps for training troops for amphibious assaults. -Worse, if the Marines are forced by a pending lawsuit to add the California gnatcatcher and San Diego fairy shrimp to the protected list, over half the base -- 57 percent -- will be hands-off to training and other readiness activities. -At the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range in Arizona, the Defense Department ensures before test flights that none of the 100 endangered Sonoran pronghorn antelope living on the base is within firing range of any of the seven sortie target areas. If just one antelope is spotted even remotely near a target, that target is eliminated from training. Since the restrictions were imposed in 1997, 40 percent of live-fire training missions have been cancelled as a result. As Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) put it: "We're faced here with a choice between the Sonoran pronghorn and conducting a realistic training for our men and women... in harm's way." -The U.S. Atlantic Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia can only hold live-fire training at sea in the daylight because of endangered marine mammal protection laws. Restrictions also have recently tied up daytime drills. Before Navy fleets and aircraft can begin exercises, they must search the training waters for two hours for visible marine mammals. If any are spotted, the exercises are terminated until the mammal leaves. This article can be viewed at: http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/envirowrapper.jsp?PID=1051-450&CID=1051-072503B ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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