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The Death of the OLF

December 21, 2007

Good news for birds wintering in eastern North Carolina, recently the US House of Representatives officially axed the Navy’s plan to place an Outlying Landing Field in Washington County. For those of you unaware of the ongoing OLF issue here, the Navy wants to put a simulated aircraft carrier strip in farmland in the eastern part of the state. Jets would practice taking off and landing around the clock, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Needless to say, the people who live in the relatively sparsely populated coastal plain were not happy with this decision, in spite of the state’s typical support of the military.

The issue becomes a bird issue because the proposed airstrip would lie right in the middle of a cluster of wildlife refuges that together support 50,000 Tundra Swans, 250,000 Snow Geese, and many tens of thousands of other waterfowl in the winter. Waterfowl that roost in the refuges but leave every day to forage in the fallow fields throughout the area. The Navy has been unwilling to take into account the potential conflicts between the pilots and the birds, going so far as to suggest poisoning birds that get too close to the proposed airstrip.

It’s dumb for lots of reasons. Potentially fatal (for birds and people) collisions with aircraft, the ties folks out east have to the land and their predictable unwillingness to part with it, the noise of jet aircrafts flying only a couple hundred feet from the ground, and especially the sheer hubris of the Navy to fix evidence to prove their idiotic assertion that all of this is a brilliant idea. They’ve been proven wrong time and time again and finally, with the likely future passage of the defense bill in the Senate, the OLF will finally die the undignified death it deserves. In the end, if we’ve learned nothing else, we learn that if organizations as disparate as the National Audubon Society and the National Rifle Association actually agree that it’s a dumb idea, then brother, it’s a really dumb idea.

In other news, the wife and I are off to Missouri for the holidays and some exciting midwestern birding (for me, not her) to wrap up the year, which means sadly I’ll be sitting on an airplane tomorrow instead of birdspotting. I’ll post from the road as time permits , but I’ve got some good birds to look forward to I think.

Happy Holidays to everybody! Hope Santa brings you excellent birds regardless of your holiday affiliation. I could go for him bringing down some Pine Grosbeaks or even a Pine Siskin or two, they’d be quite the stocking stuffer!

  1. Patrick Belardo permalink
    December 21, 2007 3:15 pm

    Great news! I remember reading about this in Audubon magazine.

    Happy Holidays! Enjoy Missouri.

  2. SNIDERMAN permalink
    December 22, 2007 1:49 am

    What a HUGE victory this is!

    And what a moronic idea to begin with. I mean, really…

    how many F/A 18s getting smacked by waterfowl would it take before they quit landing there (after they tore it up and built it).

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Sky Girl permalink
    December 23, 2007 1:48 pm

    Merry Christmas!

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