Burr jumps on OLF bandwagon

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By Staff
N.C.’s junior senator is among latest to oppose Navy’s Site C
Daily News Staff
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, one of North Carolina’s last political holdouts on the outlying landing field, joined fellow opponents Monday in calling Site C an “untenable proposition.”
In a letter to Navy Secretary Donald Winter, Burr outlines his concerns about an OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties, surmising the Navy has “erred in its decision” to put a practice strip for military pilots there. That decision minimizes several negative impacts, Burr says, and he asks the secretary to “join me in concluding that Site C is not a viable option for the OLF.”
In a two-page list of concerns attached to his letter, Burr cites three categories of issues, two of which are related to the proposed OLF’s nearness to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
Williams said Burr waited with his comments because he did not want to influence the recent public hearings on the OLF.
In his correspondence, Burr says he is worried about the environmental impact on the “substantial migratory waterfowl and other wildlife” there. Further, Burr says he is concerned about military pilots, who would be from bases in Virginia Beach, Va., and in Havelock, training in an area “with such a high concentration of birds.”
The Navy’s latest environmental study, from February, offers plans to manage bird populations by changing the crops available for them to feed on. The plan also mentions harassment techniques and toxicants. The latter would be a last resort, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials who helped prepare the management plan.
Such plans could “cause significant numbers of waterfowl to stop wintering in and around the refuge,” Burr wrote.
Burr also pointed out that the Bird Avoidance Model developed by the Air Force classifies the bird-jet strike potential at Site C as “severe.”
Looking at the dollars-and-cents equation, Burr says Tier One Washington County — among the poorest counties in the state — will take a too-costly hit.
While Burr says it is “apparent that a solution is far from being reached,” he says there is “insurmountable and growing opposition to the Washington County site, which compels me to reject Site C.”
Washington County Manager David Peoples said that Burr’s opposition of Site C is a “monumental event” for the people he serves.