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A hard-fought victory

By Staff
The Navy has abandoned Site C as a site for an outlying landing field, giving victory to those who took on Navy.
That victory is akin to David killing Goliath, Appalachian State University beating the University of Michigan in football last year and N.C. State University winning the NCAA basketball championship in 1983.
North Carolinians Opposing the Outlying Landing Field can be added to that list of giant-killers. So can Audubon North Carolina, the Southern Environmental Law Center and local governments like Beaufort County, Washington County, Washington and Plymouth.
Plenty of folks are entitled to claim credit for forcing the Navy to abandon its plans to build an OLF at Site C and four other locations in eastern North Carolina. The grassroots campaign launched by NO OLF was the spearhead of the attack on the Navy’s plan to put on OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties.
Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson is among local government officials who early on joined the fight against the OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties. Richardson’s committment to the battle against the OLF is commendable.
In a brief interview Wednesday, Richardson said the lion’s share of the credit when it comes to a successful fight against an OLF at Site C must go to those residents who organized and coordinated the fight. Richardson is correct in that assessment.
Plymouth Mayor Brian Roth and Roper Mayor Bunny Sanders also were on the front lines in the OLF battle. Later, Gov. Mike Easley, N.C. Secretary of Agriculture Steve Troxler and most of the state’s congressional delegation joined that battle. It took some of them longer to enlist in the campaign against the OLF, but as the saying goes, better late than never.
It’s understandable that those people and organizations who fought against the Navy’s plans to build an OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties and near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge are trumpeting their involvement in an effort that brought the results they desired. They joined the fight because they believed it was right.
Although the fight against Site C and four other proposed OLF sites in North Carolina has been a success, the Navy has not yet given up on building an OLF. It’s narrowed the list of its site alternatives to five, two in North Carolina and three in Virginia. One of the North Carolina sites is in Gates County, with the other in Camden County.
Chris Canfield, executive director of Audubon North Carolina, made an excellent point in the statement he released Tuesday after he learned the Navy abandoned Site C and the four other original proposed OLF sites in North Carolina.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina’s senior senator, has a similar view.
The folks in Gates and Camden counties who likely are preparing to wage another OLF battle can take hope from the successful fight against Site C. They will need help. They won’t have to look far to find that help.
Washington and Beaufort counties have plenty of veterans of the Site C battle who know what it takes for David to defeat Goliath.