January, 25, 2001
Larry Jones (Code N45F)
RE: FORT HUNTER LIGGETT BOMBING TARGET: SCOPING COMMENTS
Dear Mr. Jones:
The California Oak Foundation (COF) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the air-to-ground training target area proposed for Fort Hunter Liggett (FHL) in Monterey County, California. Due to the location of sensitive oak ecosystem resources at Fort Hunter Liggett, the adjacent Los Padres National Forest and Ventana/Silver Peak Wilderness areas, we recommend the training target area not be established at FHL.
The oak habitats of FHL and adjoining lands represent the most biologically diverse wildlife habitats in California, supporting well over 300 wildlife species. Of that number, 50 species are listed by the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships Program (CWHR) as special-status species (species of concern, protected, candidate, threatened and endangered) that prefer or make great use of the woodland and higher-elevation oak habitats that characterize FHL and environs. CWHR is a California Department of Fish and Game wildlife impact assessment model widely used by state and federal agencies California oak woodlands rank among the top three habitat types in North America for bird richness and COF is concerned about the impacts of in-bound and out-bound flights to bird populations, particularly special-status raptors. Among the special-status raptors expected to inhabit the area are Bald eagle, California spotted owl, Cooper's hawk, Ferruginous hawk, Golden eagle, Loggerhead shrike, Long-eared owl, Merlin, Northern harrier, Northern goshawk, Osprey, Peregrine falcon, Sharp-shinned hawk, Short-eared owl, Swainson's hawk and White-tailed kite. The open woodland canopies, the closed-canopy of riparian drainages, the grasslands and wetlands located on or adjacent to FHL provide ideal cover, nesting and foraging habitat for resident or dispersing raptors.
COF believes that the introduction of air targeting sorties to the FHL area will significantly increase the environmental impacts resulting from military operations. We strongly urge that the Environmental Analysis adopt the "No Action" alternative for Fort Hunter Liggett.
Janet S. Cobb, President
CALIFORNIA OAK FOUNDATION
California Oak Foundation
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