2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 25 Jul 2003 19:17:16 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Needed: An Endangered Marines Act
Needed: An Endangered Marines Act
By Dana Joel Gattuso

"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

-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.

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