Range Wars: The Environmental Contest for White Sands Missile Range

Range Wars: The Environmental Contest for White Sands Missile Range

Range Wars: The Environmental Contest for White Sands Missile Range

Range Wars: The Environmental Contest for White Sands Missile Range

Excerpt

In March 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service named the massive White Sands Missile Range in south-central New Mexico the recipient of the 2007 Military Conservation Partner Award. Director H. Dale Hall explained: “As the Fish and Wildlife Service’s former Regional Director in the Southwest, I learned first hand the depth and breadth of the installation’s commitment to native species. Their dedicated people have always been willing to work with partners, and their ability to deliver conservation on the ground and their enthusiasm in sharing what they have learned with others has truly benefited the wildlife resources they manage.” The now more than sixty-year-old missile range does deserve recognition. It played a critical role in the protection of the endangered northern aplomado falcon. It manages about 95 percent of the White Sands pupfish in rivers and streams across the region. White Sands has also worked with bat conservationists in the protection of the species on regional military reserves and remains a key partner in protecting the endangered desert bighorn sheep.

By 1980 White Sands had conducted more than sixty thousand weapons tests. Wildlife conservationists have found a most unexpected value in a place the average environmentalist might deem a military wasteland. Some even consider the military reservation a de facto wildlife preserve. In 2006 Corry Westbrook, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation, argued that while seemingly unusual places for . . .

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