The Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and its tens of thousands of swans, geese, and ducks are on a collision course with a proposed Navy landing field. The U.S. Navy is proposing the construction of a fighter jet landing field--a training runway positioned within 3.5 miles of the refuge--that would see 31,000 landings and departures each year, averaging one every 30 minutes. This round-the-clock barrage of noise from takeoffs, landings and low-level holding patterns amongst tens of thousands of birds puts both wildlife and pilots at risk.
Though the Navy´s own assessment and other professional evaluations have deemed the site severely likely to compromise pilot safety due to bird collisions, they continue to move forward with the project. The frequency of the landings and departures will be more than enough to disturb waterfowl and other wildlife round-the-clock, about once every 15 minutes. This type of constant disturbance is very detrimental to migratory waterfowl as they may not receive adequate rest and food which can disrupt breeding and migration activities. The disruption could also lead to abandonment of the refuge by many forms of wildlife, pushing them onto lower quality lands where they may face even more dangerous conditions.
Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups recently won a lawsuit against the Navy charging the Navy´s plan was based on flawed and incomplete environmental review of the project´s potential impact.
In the ruling, the court states "The point of a wildlife refuge is not just to protect an area that is beautiful and valuable in its own right, but to remind us that an environment that is welcoming to wildlife will ultimately be one that is more hospitable to humankind."
Although the court ordered the Navy to redo its environmental review, it did allow the Navy to continue with some aspects of its planning process, including land acquisition, which will waste taxpayer dollars if the site is ultimately moved elsewhere as is now expected.
Read the Full Report, Refuges at Risk