Defense bill could bar Navy from Site C

Published 12:42 am Thursday, May 10, 2007

By Staff
Wording would make OLF there illegal
News Editor
Language added to a military bill Wednesday could keep the Navy away from its favored outlying landing field site in Washington and Beaufort counties.
Reps. G.K. Butterfield and David Price, both North Carolina Democrats, worked to have the language included in the annual National Defense Authorization bill. The House Armed Services Committee was expected to approve the bill late Wednesday night and the full House will likely vote on it next week.
If the language is included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007, it will legally ban the Navy from putting a landing field on Navy-termed “Site C.” The 34,000-acre site is mostly in rural Washington County and is about four miles from Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to thousands of wintering migratory waterfowl.
Butterfield’s congressional district includes Washington County.
The Navy intends to put a landing field there that would be used to train military pilots from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock. The proposal has met hefty opposition from North Carolina leaders on both the state and federal levels. Some of that opposition has come about only recently, during the public-comment period on the Navy’s latest OLF impact study.
Price, from Chapel Hill, first spoke against the proposed OLF site several years ago.
Navy Secretary Donald Winter indicated he is willing to look at alternative sites when he met with Butterfield and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., last week.