Sunday, June 05, 2005

When Woodpeckers Rule The World

When woodpeckers rule the world, I'll cut 'em some slack. But they don't -- yet -- and I'm not in a slack-cutting mood.

Actually it's not the woodpeckers' fault. They just do what woodpeckers do: peck wood.

But millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on woodpeckers. Millions spent and millions more budgeted -- to ensure woodpeckers have wood to peck. But not just any wood -- military reservation-flavored wood.

What? You haven't heard? No "Save the Woodpecker" marches in your town?

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers? Does that help?

I didn't think so.

What if I told you that the millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCW) are focused almost exclusively on military reservations and that the efforts come to an abrupt halt at the military reservation boundaries -- no matter how many thousands of forested acres are adjacent to the military reservation?

And what if you knew that military commanders were forced to spend a lot of time and energy to adjust training so as not to disturb the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers?

Further, what would you think about the fact that the quality of military training has suffered/is suffering because some nitwit somewhere decided Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on military reservations needed protecting?

And finally, what would you say about money being taken from military training and operations budgets to help fund the very things that are degrading training and operations?

Follow me down the rabbit hole where national security meets enviro-wackoism. This is not satire. It's not made up. You can't make this shit up.

I'll use Fort Polk as an example, but keep in mind that all Army posts are adversely affected by federal and state environmental regimes that are very simply Out. Of. Control.

Fort Polk, Louisiana is home to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The JRTC is the Army's premiere light infantry training center, modeled very much after the National Training Center (for mostly armored warfare) in the Mojave Desert. Nothing in the world, except combat, comes close to these training centers.

Fort Polk is 44,000 acres of pine trees, briars, hills, swamps, rattlesnakes, copperheads, coral snakes, water moccasins, scorpions, brown recluses, black widows, ticks, chiggers and zillions upon zillions of mosquitoes. A perfect place for Army training.

Fort Polk is surrounded by HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of acres of like terrain. In other words, Fort polk is a relative sliver of land in southwest Louisiana. You'd think that Fort Polk's relatively small size coupled with its training mission would exempt it from the clutches of the enviro-wackos. You'd be wrong ... vewwy, vewwy wrong.

If a Red-cockaded Woodpecker nests in a tree on Fort Polk, that tree then automatically has a 1/2 mile protection buffer -- meaning military training that might disturb the woodpecker is prohibited within that buffer. And for those Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that choose not to nest in a tree on Fort Polk (I know, I know .. this is getting beyond silly, but it's true .. I swear), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife do-gooders are creating "cavity" trees on Fort Polk to lure the woodpeckers -- Woodpecker Welfare Housing Projects, I reckon. And yup, the man-made cavity trees, occupied or not, have a 1/2-mile protection buffer.

Doesn't take too many RCW trees with 1/2-mile buffers to start restricting training. And that is what has happened and is happening at Fort Polk. Military training is not as good as it can be because we must protect the woodpeckers.

Lest we not understand, there's a 242-page Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan 2003-2007 (at a cost of a cool $33 mil) for Fort Polk that lays it all out for the woodpecker and other animals .. and plants, too. And you just gotta see the laws and regulations governing the implementation of this plan ... but first,


Just who decided that Army training disturbs the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, anyway? I dunno. Did someone interview the feathered few? Probably some wacko will claim so. And if Army training disturbs the RCW -- (Not likely. I trained there for 4 years in the 80s when Fort Polk was home to a mechanized infantry division and the woodpeckers don't seem any worse for the wear) -- so fucking what?! Let them nest in the trees populating the hundreds of thousands of acres surrounding Fort Polk. Are we really paying people to track woodpecker copulation? Yes. We really are paying people to know whether woodpeckers are fucking and making baby peckers. When did all this begin? A long, long time ago. This spans several administrations, at least back to President Carter. When will it end? Apparently, no time soon. At whom do we point the finger? Well, when we point, we just need to remember that 3 fingers are pointing back at us: We The People. Oh, and ya know how many M16A2 rifles $33 mil will buy? About 65,000 -- enough to fully equip 3 Army divisions.

But I digress .. or something. OK. Now for the laws and regulations. JUST SKIP OVER IT WHEN YOU START TO FEEL THE LEAST BIT QUEASY and continue reading what the Monk has to say way, way below.

Appendix 1.4.5: Regulatory Instruments that Affect Natural Resources Management on Fort Polk

Below is a list of the most significant federal and state laws and regulations and other regulatory instruments that may govern implementation of this Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan.

Federal Laws
- American Indian Religious Freedom Act (42 United States Code (USC))
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (PL 101-336; 42 USC 12101)
- Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 (PL 93-291; 16 USC 469 et seq.)
- Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (PL 96-95:16 USC 470aa-11)
- Bald Eagle Protection Act (PL 86-70, as amended)
- Clean Air Act (as amended through 1990)
- Clean Water Act of 1978
- Conservation and Rehabilitation Program on Military and Public Lands (PL 93-452)
- Conservation Programs on Military Reservations (PL 90-465)
- Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 95-632, as amended)
- Erosion Protection Act (33 USC 426e-426h)
- Federal Facilities Compliance Act of 1992 (PL 102-386; amending 42 USC 6961)
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (7 USC 136 et seq.)
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (PL 92-522)
- Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1980 (PL 96-366; 16 USC 2901)
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (PL 85-624)
- Hunting, Fishing and Trapping on Military Lands (an update to the Military Construction Authorization Act 10 USC 2665)
- Migratory Bird Conservation Act (Chapter 257; 45 Stat 1222; 16 USC 715 et seq.)
- Migratory Bird Treaty Act (PL 65-186; 16 USC 703 et seq.)
- Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (30 USC 181 et seq.)
- National Forest Management Act of 1976
- National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (as amended, PL 91-190; 42 USC 4321 et seq.)
- National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended, PL 89-665; 16 USC 470 et seq.)
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 USC, Section 3001 et seq.)
- Non-game Act (PL 93-366)
- Noxious Plant Control Act (PL 90-583)
- Outdoor Recreation on Federal Lands (16 USC 4601{1})
- Plant Protection Act of 2000 (replaces Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1973 (PL 93-629))
- Sikes Act Improvement Amendments of 1997 (PL 105-85, as amended; USC Title 16)
- Timber Sales on Military Lands [An update of the Military Construction Authorization Act] (10 USC 2665)
- Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (PL 92419;68 Stat 666, as amended & 86 Stat 667; 16 USC 1001)

Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda
- Executive Order 11593, Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment
- Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management
- Executive Order 11989, Off-Road Vehicles on Public Lands
- Executive Order 11991, Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality: Amends Executive Order 11514
- Executive Order 12608, Protection of Wetlands: Amends Executive Order 11990
- Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice
- Executive Order 12962, Recreational Fisheries
- Executive Order 13007, Indian Sacred Sites
- Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks
- Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments
- Executive Order 13112, Invasive Species, 1999
- Presidential Memorandum, Environmentally and Economically Beneficial Practices on Federal Landscaped Grounds (April 26, 1994)
- Presidential Memorandum, Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments

Department of Defense (DoD) Directives/Instructions
- DoD Directive 4150.7, DoD Pest Management Program
- DoD Directive 4700.4, Natural Resources Management Program
- DoD Directive 4710.1, Archaeological and Historic Resources Management
- DoD Instruction 4715.3, Environmental Conservation Program
- DoD Instruction 4715.9, Environmental Planning and Analysis
- DoD Instruction 5000.13, Natural Resources
- DoD Directive 6050.1, Environmental Effects in the United States of DOD Actions
- DoD Directive 6050.2, Use of Off-Road Vehicles on DOD Lands
- DoD Directive 7310.5, Accounting for Production and Sale of Forest Products
- Department of Defense, American Indian and Alaska Native Policy

Army Regulations (AR)
- AR 200-1, Environmental Protection and Enhancement (Department of the Army 1997c)
- AR 200-2, Environmental Analysis of Army Actions, 32 CFR Part 651 (Department of the Army 2002)
- AR 200-3, Natural Resources, Land, Forest, and Wildlife Management (Department of the Army 1995a)
- AR 200-4, Cultural Resources Management (Department of the Army 1997b)
- AR 200-5, Pest Management (Department of the Army 1999a)
- AR 215-1, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Activities and Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities
- AR 350-4, Integrated Training Area Management (Department of the Army 1998)

JRTC and Fort Polk Regulations
- JRTC and Fort Polk Regulation 385-1, Training Facilities Guide (Chapter 11, Environmental and Natural Resources Management)
- JRTC and Fort Polk Regulation 210-18, Installation Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing Regulations
- Exercise Rules of Engagement, Chapter 16, Environmental Protection During Field Operations

Anybody still think it's easy being an Army training officer?

Look, I've limited this rant, so far, to woodpeckers, but there's more -- much, much more. The list of environmental restrictions placed on military training goes on and on and on. So why am I picking on woodpeckers? Coz it's fun to pick on woodpeckers.

But I'm not gonna stop there. More to come. Teasers:

Maneuver corridors at Fort Stewart, Georgia that once supported mechanized infantry battalions have become so constricted due to environmental restrictions that it's not permissable to maneuver much more than a platoon at a time (that's 4 vehicles). Fort Stewart is home of the 3rd Infantry Division. You may have seen them on television taking down Baghdad. Think about that. Sure they took it down, but no thanks to the enviro-wackos.

For years, digging at Fort Hood, Texas has not been allowed. Smoke, used for concealment of military operations such as breaching obstacles, is now severely restricted. Helicopter flight paths and flying times are being impacted because helicopters are loud and their loudness offends the sensibilities of the people who chose to build houses right up next to the post boundaries. Artillery firing is becoming more and more restricted for the same reasons. Fort Hood, Texas is home to the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and a shitload of M1 Abrams tanks, M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, AH-64 Apaches, etc etc.

More later ... I figure the woodpeckers are enough for now.


It's later. 2 more posts:

It's Not Just Woodpeckers

Enviro-Assault On National Security: A Case Study


1 comment:

vinny in Ohio said...

This is fabulous! My kind of writer.