Center for Marine Conservation letter to the Navy about the Bombing Range Proposal
 

The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Navy's proposal to develop a practice ordnance target area at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County, California. Founded in 1972, the Center for Marine Conservation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 120,000 members who are committed to protecting ocean environments and conserving the diversity and abundance of marine life. Our Monterey Bay Field Office is focused specifically on protection of the coastal and marine resources of California's Central Coast.

CMC is concerned both with the public process and the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed Fort Hunter Liggett bombing range. We urge the Navy to:

Improve public outreach on this project to insure adequate involvement by all interested stakeholders.

Conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rather than merely an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed bombing range.

CMC is concerned at the apparent lack of public outreach regarding this project. We first became aware of the project at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting in early February. However, it has since come to our attention that a public notice was released in November 2000. We were surprised not to have received a copy of this notice, or any other formal notification of the project, and ask to be included in any future notifications. We also strongly recommend that all of the existing environmental organizations active in the Central Coast area receive similar notification regarding this project.

We are concerned that the proposed project may have significant adverse impacts on the resources of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and are particularly concerned about any potential increase in over flights of the Sanctuary. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the crown jewel of the marine sanctuaries program and a national treasure. The Sanctuary was selected based on its unique diversity of marine life: its waters are home to 27 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, 345 species of fish, and 4 species of sea turtles. Unfortunately, many of these species are already at risk, twenty-six species that inhabit the Sanctuary are listed as endangered or threatened.

 

CMC is deeply concerned with the potential impact of increased over flights and sound pollution on the many sensitive bird and marine mammal species that inhabit the Sanctuary. Accordingly, we request that the Navy conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement to analyze potential impacts, discuss a full range of project alternatives, and identify adequate mitigation measures.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Sincerely,
Kaitilin Gaffney
California Central Coast Program Director

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