Hello, ladies and gentleman, my name is Jason Wallace, Southeast Regional Director for the Delta Waterfowl Foundation. I am here today to articulate the concerns of Delta Waterfowl, our volunteers and supporters about the Navy’s proposed Outlying Landing Field at site C.
First I would like to comment about the proposed site location. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is an integral part of the wintering habitat base for waterfowl throughout the Atlantic Flyway. Due to the migratory nature of the birds that winter near the proposed Site C, the issue while of grave concern to North Carolinians, is an issue of national and international significance.
Tundra swans, one of the areas most numerous winter inhabitants, often times reaching 30,000 birds, have chosen this area as their primary wintering grounds arriving from as far away as Alaska and northern Canada. In addition to swans, greater snow geese, mallards, black ducks, pintails, ring-necks and a host of others stage or winter near Site C and represent some of the highest wintering densities for many of the species of the Atlantic Flyway. This area is crucial to these species, and the outcome of the OLF debate will have great bearing on migratory birds not only in North Carolina, but with origins and ties across the U.S and Canada, our North American waterfowl resource in whole. Simply put, by placing the OLF on Site C, the Navy is negatively impacting our collective waterfowl resource.
Secondly, the Navy has offered a number of methods it may employ in the likely event that waterfowl and others become troublesome to exercises at Site C. One of the most galling is potential use of poison as mentioned in the Navy’s recently released Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. According to the report, Navy officials concede that the area’s heavy use by waterfowl may need to be mitigated through various means to provide for the safety of its pilots.
The use of poison to reduce to the number of birds is a direct affront to the value placed on these birds by waterfowl hunters and other migratory bird enthusiasts have who have supported their abundance through conservation efforts and scientific management. The mere mention of the use of poison should illustrate that A: Some within the Navy have no regard for the waterfowl residing in the area and B. That some Navy officials will go to any lengths to cling to Site C despite the significant evidence that it is unsuitable because of the presence of hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
Finally, I would like to speak of the issue of pilot safety. Delta Waterfowl and those it represents understand that issues of national security trump all others and our military needs and readiness are of great import. We greatly admire our servicemen and women and the work that they do on our behalf each day. With that said, Site C, is clearly going to be putting our nations finest in harms way unnecessarily. One need only to see the abundance of birds in close proximity to the proposed site or view footage of the test flights to understand that Site C poses a great risk not only to the waterfowl mentioned above, but more importantly the pilots who will conduct training in the area. Why, despite the Navy’s own admission that risk of bird strikes is “severe” would they continue to pursue Site C as its only solution?
In summary, we ask that the Navy abandon Site C for its Outlying Landing Field. The costs, to our waterfowl resources would be to great and the potential but inevitable costs to our servicemen and women are frankly staggering. We urge the Navy to work with the citizens of North Carolina to find a more suitable location that does not bring with it the negative consequences of the Site C.
Thank you for your time.