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Navy installs radar at OLF site

By By The Associated Press
GREENVILLE – The Navy has stationed a bird-counting radar at one of the locations for a proposed outlying landing field for a new fleet of jets.
Rep. Frank Ballance, D-N.C., and about 20 other officials toured portions of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Washington County and the proposed landing site this week.
Local residents contend that thousands of geese and swans that spend the winter at the refuge pose a grave danger to the jets if they practice carrier landings in Washington County.
So the Navy erected the radar earlier this week.
''We want to take a look at it, get some good numbers, some nice hard facts to put into the final environment impact statement so the decision maker can have all the information in regards to a final decision about the OLF,'' said Lt. Scot McIlnay, a spokesman for the Navy's Atlantic Fleet.
The Navy wants to build a landing field and place several squadrons of F/A-18 Super Hornets at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. The outlying field would be used by pilots to practice aircraft carrier landings.
Ballance said Thursday he opposes the field because it would bring excess noise to a rural area without giving the area any economic benefits.
Opponents of the rural fields say a landing field should be built at Cherry Point. Gov. Mike Easley, Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., have issued statements supporting the parallel landing field proposal.