Local News

New Navy Study Has Changed Nothing in OLF Battle

Posted February 26, 2007

— It's eastern North Carolina versus the U.S. Navy, and the fight grew more intense Monday.

The dispute centers on 30,000 Washington County acres that the Navy wants to turn it into a field where carrier pilots can practice takeoffs and landings. The official term is outlying landing field.

Opponents say the plan will disturb a wildlife refuge for migratory birds. The Navy says there’s a safe way to do it.

At times, there are thousands of birds in the part of the county that the Navy has targeted. Some argue that those birds can pose a danger to the Navy’s jets. The Navy disagrees.

“The bottom line is, we believe that we can safely coexist with this refuge and the refuge can safely coexist with this outlying landing field,” said Cmdr. Richard Catore,

The Navy has just released a second study of the area.

It seems clear there is still a big gap to close between the military and its opponents.

“All of the data and the continued experts we bringing in keep bringing us back to the same conclusion,” Rear Adm. David Anderson said. The conclusion is that that Washington County is the best place for an 8,000-foot runway on which Navy jets can practice as many as 70 takeoffs and landings a day.

“They're gonna have an effect on the birds, and they're gonna put their pilots in danger, no question,” said opponent Joe Albea.

“We brought in additional experts. We all have a vested interest in getting this right,” Anderson said in a separate interview.

“I call him a liar…. He is probably admiral No. 6 who's just reading a script,” said Jennifer Alligood, another opponent.>

Anderson said he would like to sort out how people got to the positions and beliefs they hold now.

“These are some of the things, I want to go back to—‘he said, she said.’ Who did? When? Where?”

“It's pretty much the same party line that we've heard for the last six years, nothing new and different,” Albea said.

Opponents have an important ally: Gov. Easley. The governor says he's frustrated with the Navy and is urging North Carolina's congressional delegation to withhold funding for the airfield.>

Anderson says the Navy is “disappointed” and would like to work with the state.

“We want to be good stewards. We want to be good neighbors,” the admiral said.

The Navy has bought almost 2,000 acres in Washington County, leaving 28,000 needed.

It plans to hold public hearings next month and make a final site selection this fall.

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  • steph Feb 28, 2007

    I think the Navy and Washington County should make an agreement that when the birds are migrating there, the Navy will obstain from training. Once the birds leave, the Navy can resume training exercises. This should allow a considerable amount of time for the Navy to complete their necessary task and for the birds to continue to call Washington County home (as they need). (I submit this on behalf of my 10 year-old son). I thought it was a pretty well-thoughtout compromise.

  • bopeace1999 Feb 27, 2007

    Nothing to do with NIMBY. Everything to do with pilot safety, property rights, and making for a quieter Virginia by sending these jets south to practice in NC.

    Virginia gets the goldmine; North Carolina gets the shaft.

  • Pat A. Feb 27, 2007

    There are other sites in NC that are more appropriate, and where the OLF would be welcomed. NC's elected officials who oppose Site C have made that clear. Those of you who are crying NIMBY are simply wrong this time.

  • Anglico Feb 27, 2007

    It's hard to understand the knee-jerk reactionary right wing that assumes the merits of the Navy's case are valid. An extremist conservative judge - Terrence Boyle - called BS on the Navy and sent them back to the drawing board because they are, quite frankly, out-and-out liars.

    Look at the issues. Read the report. This site is a frickin' disaster on every dimension you can imagine. People who don't recognize that are being willfully stupid . . . or maybe they just come by ignorance naturally.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 27, 2007

    NIMBYs are against the airfield. They are using whatever issue they can to prevent the airfield.

  • inmyopinion3 Feb 27, 2007

    What a load of horse dung, this is a classic case of not in my back yard its got nothing to do with the birds the birds are merely an excuse to stop the runway! I cant blame people for not wanting it as it WILL ne nosiy but if they are so envviomentally concerned then they should probably look closer to home first, stop burning fossile fuels (heating oil, gas etc) drive a small car, not an SUV or pickup etc I'll bet most people complaining are doing nothing themselves to improves the birds environment or the environment in general!

  • bopeace1999 Feb 27, 2007

    MOAs and Restricted airspace already exist - yes, they do.

    What is different about Site C is that it is for intensive training at low levels, primarily touch and go takeoffs. Repeated take offs and landings - in other words - where the birds are.

    No chance to outmaneuver at altitude - What else can they do but plow right through?

  • Doctor Dataclerk Feb 27, 2007

    Easley is just jumping on the "Anti-OLF" bandwagon to score political points. The truth is most of eastern North Carolina including the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge lies under already heavily used military airspace called Military Operation Areas (MOAs) and/or Restricted Airspace to allow our fine men and women military aviators to practice. Military jets and migratory birds for decades have shared the same airspace with little negative consequences for either party. I have a small private grass strip in my backyard that I fly out of and would gladly allow the Navy to use it for training so they can continue to keep my family and children safe. We have become a nation of whiners who don't want to be inconvenienced for anything, not even the safety of our families.

  • Bronze Feb 27, 2007

    Flyimg is for the birds!!

  • Screen name Feb 26, 2007

    It's the Navy, tell them about a good Broadway musical and they'll forget all about this.