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Stop Army Tanks- Save the Desert Tortoise

by Jim Ricker Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002 at 1:22 PM
jtdesert@pacbell.net Desert Protective Council

Please attend scoping meetings in Riverside and Pasadena- Tell the Army, "No Tanks!" to Fort Irwin Expansion.

Re: Ft Irwin Expansion Alert

The Army will be holding two scoping meetings on the Fort Irwin Expansion Proposal on January 17

(Riverside) and January 19 (Pasadena). This may be your last chance to voice your concerns about

a proposed expansion that would put the future of the West Mojave desert tortoise population in

jeopardy and would likely lead to the extinction of the endangered Lane Mountain Milk Vetch. The

meetings are January 17 in Riverside at the Riverside Convention Center (2-5 pm, 6-9 pm) and

January 19 at the Pasadena Convention Center (1-4 pm). The scoping meetings are to gather

Information from the public to assist the Army in its preparation of a Supplemental Draft

Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Proposed Land Expansion for Fort Irwin and the

National Training Center.

This Supplemental DEIS is in reference to the Army's plan to take 110,000 more acres of our public

lands in the Mojave Desert, 35 miles north of Barstow. The army already has 643,000 acres for

tank training at the Ft. Irwin National Training Center. The expansion will destroy the quality of

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and further jeopardize the declining, federally listed desert tortoise

(California's State Reptile) by expanding training activities into prime desert tortoise habitat

previously set aside for its protection. The expansion will also jeopardize the endangered Lane

Mountain Milk Vetch, which lives in and around Ft. Irwin and exists Nowhere else on the planet.

Evidence is accumulating that the Army does not need to expand the Ft. Irwin National Training

Center to accomplish its training mission In fact, the Army can accomplish its training mission for

firing longer distances by using new technologies that provide realistic, simulated training

environments and scenarios. Given this simulated alternative and the increasingly desperate plight of

the desert tortoise all over the Mojave desert, it is unconscionable to eliminate any portion of the

desert tortoise population that is currently adjacent to the Fort Irwin National Training Center .

There are a few other key points that you might want to bring up at the hearing or in your written

comments: The analysis in this new supplemental draft EIS must be equivalent in depth and quality to

that of a full blown EIS for the following reasons:

The land involved in this proposed expansion is a different piece of land from the one involved in the

proposed 1997 expansion, and the destruction of this area will dramatically affect a Western Mojave

desert tortoise population that has declined alarmingly since 1997. You might also note that this

proposed expansion includes opening up to Army maneuvers some previously protected areas for

the tortoise (the UTM 90 Lands). This expansion, thus, may have a more draconian impact on the

desert tortoise than the 1997 expansion would have had.

The Lane Mountain Milk Vetch was not federally listed as Endangered in1997, and the Lane Mt.

Milk Vetch only lives in the Ft. Irwin area. The new Supplemental DEIS must seriously address how

the Army intends to prevent this rare plant from going extinct.You should note for the record that not

only does the Lane Mt. Milkvetch only live in the desert around Ft. Irwin but that past efforts to

transplant populations of this plant to other areas have failed.

The Army should also schedule scoping hearings on the proposed expansion in the San Francisco

Bay area and other parts of California, as many in the Bay Area and throughout the state also visit

the Mojave desert and have an interest in the Ft. Irwin expansion.

Of course, feel free to add your own reasons why the NTC expansion will adversely affect you.

For more information on the proposed expansion, please see the Army's website:

HomePage

http://www.fortirwinlandexpansion.com/



and also www.tortoise.org

And Terry of the Desert Protective Council:

Terry Weiner

Conservation Coordinator

Desert Protective Council

(619) 543-0757

(619) 302-9282 cell

jtdesert@ixpres.com





Notice of Public Scoping Meeting

Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

on the Proposed Land Expansion for Fort Irwin and the National Training Center



The Department of the Army will hold two public scoping meetings to introduce the Proposed Land

Expansion Project for Fort Irwin and the National Training Center. The meetings allow the public to

participate in the environmental impact assessment process by providing input on the range

of alternatives to be considered and the impacts and issues to be assessed in the DEIS. On 16

October 2001, the Department of the Army published in the Federal Register, the Notice of Intent to

prepare a Supplemental DEIS. Oral and written comments will be accepted during this meeting. A

land expansion briefing will be presented at the beginning of each meeting to explain the mission of

the National Training Center (NTC) and to outline the needs and requirements for the expansion.

An Open House format is scheduled for two hours prior to each afternoon meeting where NTC

representatives will be available to provide additional information regarding NTC operations and

programs.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

Riverside County

Open House: 12:00 Noon

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