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House takes major step to protect waterfowl habitat in North Carolina 

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DU opposition to Navy’s airfield proposal heard on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2007 – The U.S. House of Representatives said no, Thursday, to funding a new U.S. Navy landing field in eastern North Carolina. Since 2002, Ducks Unlimited has urged the Navy to find a different location for its Outlying Landing Field because of possible negative effects to waterfowl and pilot safety. The proposed site is close to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is an important area for waterfowl populations.

The House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes language blocking the Navy from constructing the airbase at its preferred site, known as Site C. The act defines how the Department of the Defense spends money. 

“We are encouraged by Congress’ recent action averting a potentially destructive blow to the waterfowl and wetland resources of North Carolina” said DU Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland. “The health of Atlantic Flyway waterfowl populations is at stake, and the Outlying Landing Field would pose significant risks to naval pilots and the citizens of North Carolina.”
 
The coastal counties of east-central and northeastern North Carolina are part of important winter habitat for migratory waterfowl on the East Coast. Base construction would have destroyed significant feeding habitat the birds need. DU and its partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, are working to combat wetland loss and expand that habitat. 

The Navy held public hearings in March and April throughout North Carolina and received much opposition to the preferred building site in Washington and Beaufort and counties. Senior DU volunteers spoke at all of the hearings opposing construction next to the refuge. 

DU also submitted formal comments to the Navy’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on May 2.

“We believe that the search criteria used by the Navy does not limit them to the selection of Site C and that another site can be found that has significantly less impacts on waterfowl and significantly less risk to Navy pilots,” said DU’s Southern Regional Office Director Ken Babcock. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee should finalize its version of the National Defense Authorization Act next week. It’s expected to use similar language to repeal funding for the Outlying Landing Field.

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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