Alameda Sun: Refuge Gets Ax, September 14, 2012


Least tern habitat allegedly not in jeopardy

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received the green light from the US Fish & Wildlife Service for its Alameda Point clinic and national cemetery project in late August. Fish & Wildlife issued its biological opinion, which focuses only on the impacts to the least tern colony that nests on the previously proposed wildlife refuge.

While they agreed with the VA that the project would adversely affect the least tern, they concluded their review by saying the tern colony's existence is not placed in jeopardy by the plans.

The opinion includes a description of the VA's planned uses for the 511 acres, labeled "VA Undeveloped Area," that will not be used for the clinic or cemetery. The description makes clear for the first time that the national wildlife refuge envisioned by Fish & Wildlife in 1998 is dead. Other than the 9.7- acre nesting area for the terns, the remainder of the tarmac, taxiway, and runway pavement will be used for emergency training exercises during the non-nesting season (Aug. 16 through March 31), and set aside to be used as a staging area during emergencies and natural disasters. Two ammo bunkers will be used to store emergency supplies.