Clipped From Ukiah Daily Journal
Los Angeles Times Tortoises become tank training target The U.S. military is planning what appears to be a sneak attack on the Endangered Species Act. Some generals and admirals are unhappy because their tank training and bombing practice must be tailored to preserve the habitats of threatened or endangered species. A proposal is circulating in the Defense Department to request amendment of the Endangered Species Act to give the military services greater freedom to train and conduct exercises in areas where there are threatened or endangered species. One big loophole would allow the secretary of Defense to grant exemptions "for reasons of military readiness." This blank check, if it makes it to Congress, should be torn to pieces. What's most dismaying about the proposal is that the military has been a generally good steward of threatened and endangered species, building a solid reserve of public approval. Why squander all that goodwill? Millions of acres in California and elsewhere in the West were used in World War II as training bases and maneuvering grounds. Much of the land remains in Defense Department hands, including the Army's giant Fort Irwin and the China Lake Naval Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert, home of the vulnerable, endangered desert tortoise. Coastal bases include Camp Pendleton, which has its own environmental protection unit and has been granted specific Endangered Species Act exclusions by proving a need. As development and growth have spread, especially near the coast, the bases have become islands of open space and de facto WHERE TO WRITE wildlife refuges. ... However, military leaders complained during a series of congressional hearings earlier this year that urban sprawl, environmental laws and other factors were severely restricting their training. The Pentagon can't remove suburban tract houses, so the target has become wildlife. The Endangered Species Act has been up for renewal for several years, but Congress cannot agree on how to change it. ... When and if the law finally is overhauled, the changes should focus on the best methods of protecting species and not on adding loopholes. Generals and admirals got their jobs by being smart, strategic thinkers. Let them put those talents to conducting realistic training without further endangering rare plants and animals. President George Bush. The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500; (202) 456-1111, FAX (202)456-2461. Governor Gray Davis: State Capitol, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-2841; FAX (916)445-4633; email@example.com Sen. Barbara Boxer: 112 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510; (202)224-3553; San Francisco, (415) 4030100; firstname.lastname@example.org Sen. Dianne Feinstein: 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202)224-3841; San Francisco (415) 3930707; email@example.com Congressman Mike Thompson: 1st District, 415 Cannon Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3311; FAX (202)225-4335. Fort Bragg district representative, Kendall Smith, 430 N. Franklin St., Fort Bragg 95437; 962-0933.FAX962-0934; m.thompson @ mail.house.gov Assemblywoman Virginia StromMartin: State Assembly District 1, Capitol, Rm. 3146, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 3192001; Santa Rosa, 576-2526; FAX, Santa Rosa, 576-2297. Strom-Martin's field representative in Ukiah is Kathy Kelley, located at 104 W. Church St, Ukiah, 95482, 463-5770. Lake County's representative, Harry Bistrin, can be reached at 463-5771. The office's fax number is 463-5773. E-mail to: virginia.strom-martin @ asm.ca.gov Senator Wes Chesbro: State Senate District 2,Capitol, Rm. 3070, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-3375; FAX (916) 3236958. Field Rep. in Ukiah is Jennifer Puser, P.O. Box 785, Ukiah, 95482, 468-8914, FAX 468-8931. District offices at 1040 Main St., Suite 205, Napa, 94559,224-1990, 50 D St., Suite 120A, Santa Rosa, 95404, 5762771, and 317 3rd St., Suite 6, Eureka, 95501,445-6508. Mendoclno County Supervisors: Michael Delbar, 1st District; Richard Shoemaker, 2nd District; Tom Lucier, 3rd District; Patricia Campbell, 4th District; David Colfax, 5th District. All can be reached by writing to 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1090, Ukiah, 95482, 463-4221, FAX 463-4245. (No e-mail available yet.) Mendoclno County Consumer & Environmental Hotline: 1 (800) 7345772. Contact: Barry Vogel, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Civil Division. Or write to: P.O. Box 1000, Ukiah, 95482.