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DU urges Navy to choose alternative location for Outlying Landing Field - NC

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Organizations cite concerns over impacts on waterfowl and danger to pilots

Washington, DC, March 30, 2007 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and other leading conservation organizations want the Navy to choose a different site for its Outlying Landing Field (OLF) in North Carolina. The groups made their feelings known at a national press conference Thursday.

The Navy’s present plan calls for building the OLF adjacent to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina. The refuge attracts over 100,000 geese, ducks and swans annually. The proposed OLF would house the Navy’s FA/18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

“We believe an OLF near Pocosin refuge would be a terrible mistake for waterfowl and the wetland resources of North Carolina, and for other states in the Atlantic Flyway,” said DU Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland. “The health of Atlantic Flyway waterfowl populations is at stake, and the OLF would pose significant risks to naval pilots and the citizens of North Carolina.”

Deadly crashes have occurred in similar situations in the past. A well-known example is the 1995 tragedy at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. Two-dozen crewmembers of an E-3 AWACS plane died when geese were sucked into the plane’s engines causing it to crash. DU and others have repeatedly asked the Navy to avoid a similar tragedy by considering more suitable sites in North Carolina for the OLF.

The Navy plans to use lethal and non-lethal means, including poisoning and culling, to keep birds from the refuge. Another concern shared by the conservation groups and the local agricultural community is the Navy’s proposal to alter 30,000 acres of land so waterfowl won’t be likely to use it. 

“This is contrary to the work of DU and its partners to combat the loss of wetlands along the North Carolina coast,” said Craig LeSchack, director of conservation programs for DU’s South Atlantic region. “And it goes against the purpose of the national wildlife refuge system.” 

Senior DU volunteers have also shared these concerns at public hearings in North Carolina.  Additional hearings are scheduled for the coming weeks. The public comment period closes on April 24. 

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Rifle Association, among others, also were involved at the press conference. 

Contact: Neil Shader 202.347.1530 nshader@ducks.org  

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

 

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