ded reckoning

The Militaristic, Environmental, Telecom blog that doesn't know where it's going

01 March 2005

Bomb those cows instead

Over the past few years I've read a few things about the closing down of Vieques in Puerto Rico due to constant pressure from locals along with celeb activists like RFK, JR. Vieques used to be the Navy and Marine Corps primary combined arms training area for east coast units getting ready to deploy until it was closed down. I'd like to see the story that tells us how much better off Vieques is now with more tourists and cruise ships than with a ARGs or CAGs coming through every year.

The Vieques story tentacles out to bump into all the other aspects of Environmental-Military relations and military training grounds from Hawaii to North Carolina. When the Marines discussed using the turtle nesting grounds around
Padre Island, TX for landing corridors it created a mini-enviro storm. Later when Eglin AFB in the Panhandle was chosen to replace Vieques , similarly uproars occurred. This little article in Marine Times on the Avon Park Bombing Range recent upping in status as a training base shows that this issue continues to have repercussions. The article is fairly low key, but the usual suspects of wetlands, endangered species, and road building come up. What is almost always forgotten in these debates about land use and what the military does, is that in almost every case the land is valuable from a natural perspective due to the use the military puts it to. And what is forgotten is that the real threat to the environment (as we will no doubt hear in the future of Vieques) is a growing population looking for land to build on.

The central spine of Florida, with Avon Park at the south end, is experiencing significant sprawl from Mt. Dora through Orlando, down to Winter Haven. I once worked with the Nature Conservancy on some land (the Disney Preserve, no less) they had bought south of Kissimmee. Most of the damage they were trying to repair was due to drainage canals dug to support cattle ranching, and the area was starting to get hemmed in by huge development driven by Disney World.

If anything, I think increased bombing at Avon Park will help reduce cattle ranching in the area and reduce surrounding lands attractiveness to developers. Central Florida wildlife and land should be more worried about a future where
this is the problem, not more military exercises. (And, by the way, since MSNBC can't seem to include a map-a simple matter in the WWW age, here is Perdido Key.)

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