Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bombing Ranges in Pamlico Sound: CFRG, Other Groups Request Complete Environmental Impact Statement

For years NC saltwater fishermen have shared the Pamlico Sound with our military. Now the military is making an effort to expand the bombing ranges while removing fishermen from areas that have been fished for years. Before we let this happen, we should at least understand the impact these bombing exercises are having on our wildlife populations, soils, and waters in these areas, in addition to the impacts on the fishermen themselves.

Please see the letter below from Todd Miller, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation. This is important to all saltwater fishermen here in NC. Please take time and send an email requesting a full "Environmental Impact Statement" on these bombing sites before November 26 to:

Army Corps of Engineers
Attention: Richard Spencer
69 Darlington Ave.
Wilmington, NC 28403

Re: Closure of Traditional Use Areas and proposed intermittent expansion of BT-11 and BT-9

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has reviewed the proposals to expand activities in BT-11 and BT-9, and comments about these plans submitted to you by the NC Marine Fisheries Commission and the Alliance for Public Trust Waters, Inc. We have also examined the formal policies of the NC Coastal Resources Commission that are part of North Carolina’s federally approved Coastal Management Plan that relate to military activities in the coastal zone as well as the protection of public trust rights in coastal waters. Any activities undertaken by federal agencies should be consistent with the state’s federally approved plan.

Dating back to the mid 1980s, there have been issues raised by the State of North Carolina regarding its need to protect public trust rights around these ranges. In addition, state policy requires on going monitoring and reporting of potential environmental hazards associated with range activities. It appears that the public trust issues raised by the State over two decades ago have still not been resolved, and that routine reports to the Coastal Resources Commission of the results of monitoring activities have been episodic at best.

For these reasons, we agree with the comments submitted by both the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Alliance. There has been inadequate evaluation of the impacts of these proposed expansions to public trust rights, coastal habitat, and coastal water quality. We also request additional environmental review of these proposals. An Environmental Impact Statement should be prepared in accordance with requirements of NEPA. This will allow for full analysis of the impacts of these proposals in a way that fully includes the public.

Thank you for considering our comments.

Todd Miller, Executive Director
North Carolina Coastal Federation
3609 Highway 24 (Ocean)
Newport, North Carolina 28570