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Environmental Law Center To File Suit Challenging Navy's OLF Plan

Posted January 9, 2004

— The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, will file suit in federal court Friday challenging the Navy's plan to build a military jet landing field in the heart of the Atlantic migratory bird flyway and a few miles from a national wildlife refuge.

The groups say the government's environmental impact studies for the landing field downplayed the substantial risk of collisions between jets and the large flocks of tundra swans, snow geese and other birds that winter in the area, and minimized adverse impacts to the wildlife refuge.

Citing extensive evidence from wildlife experts, including the scientist who led part of the Navy's own study, the lawsuit characterizes as "reckless" the plan for a new F/A 18 E/F Super Hornet jet training field within five miles of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina.

The refuge is winter home to some 100,000 large swans, snow geese and other waterfowl known to represent a severe risk to low-flying aircraft and their pilots.

The $186.5 million facility would be located on 30,000 acres the Navy plans to acquire in Washington and Beaufort counties. The counties are filing their own lawsuit against the Navy on Friday.

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