The Gull: Protection Closer for Least Tern Colony, May-June 2012


A recently released proposal for development at the former Alameda Naval Air
Station (NAS) lays out a plan for permanent protection for the endangered
California Least Terns that nest there while allowing for reasonable development on
lands adjacent to the colony. The proposal revised an older plan to build a large medical
and memorial complex on the runway at the former NAS, which is known locally
as the Alameda Wildlife Refuge.

According to the proposal, the majority of the medical complex and columbarium
will be constructed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on land adjacent
to the refuge known as the Northwest Territories rather on the refuge. The vast majority
of the runway would then be protected permanently for the benefit of the terns and
other wildlife.

Several years ago, the VA and U.S. Navy released their original plan and met with
strong opposition from Golden Gate Audubon and our allies because development on
the refuge was likely to jeopardize the tern colony. The original plans violated a 1999
Biological Opinion that controlled development around the refuge and identified the
refuge lands as essential for the conservation of the terns.