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Originally Posted: 16 January 2009
Stop Massive Military Expansion in the California Desert
Please write to the Navy today and tell it not to expand into fragile desert lands that are key to the survival of rare and endangered desert tortoises and bighorn sheep. The Department of the Navy is proposing to expand its largest base — the 595,000-acre Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center near Twentynine Palms, California — by acquiring as much as 250,000 acres of additional desert lands.
The Navy's eastern expansion area totals 228,000 acres of desert and includes important movement corridors for bighorn sheep as they traverse the lowlands between the Bullion, Sheephole, Calumet, Old Woman, Marble, and Clipper Mountains. Proposed expansions areas to the west of the current base include habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise, yet the Navy plans to acquire up to 188,000 acres of tortoise habitat and use it for destructive training exercises.
This base, with over 595,000 acres of desert, already provides ample lands for Marine Corps training exercises — especially since this is one of five major military bases in the California deserts. The Navy has yet to make a strong case for the need for the expansion, which would push already imperiled wildlife into smaller and smaller areas and closer to the brink of extinction. Please send a letter to project manager Joseph Ross to save desert tortoises and bighorn sheep today.
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