Military Spends Millions Protecting Gophers While Workers Forced on Furlough

By , Posted on Jul 25, 2013
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Fuzzy Problems Causing Furloughs

According to a recent article posted on the FOX News website the military is spending millions of dollars on gophers, while workers are being forced to go on a furlough. A total of six hundred fifty thousand civilian employees are being furloughed at United States military bases in response to sequester cuts. However, the Department of Defense is still spending millions of dollars to protect fuzzy critters. Does this make sense?

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington state just received a $3.5 million department grant to purchase land around the base in an effort to protect the Mazama pocket gopher, a species that has not even been listed as endangered or threatened. (FOX News)

It stands to reason that the thousands of furloughed workers are not happy with this expense decision. One of the workers commented that he is all for saving animals but at what cost?

Under the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), the Department of Defense and other federal agencies have spent roughly three hundred, ninety-seven million dollars to protect 264,000 acres of land around military bases since 2003. When you take into consideration how many people are currently unemployed and are feeling the immense pressure of trying to make ends meet it begins to seem a little excessive that so much money is being put into something such as this.

Sarah Hamman, from the Center for National Lands Management, has been tracking the Mazama pocket gopher in the prairie land around JBLM and says the military’s involvement has been critical.

“The Department of Defense is a really important partner in this process in terms of providing the funding and providing the land for these species,” Hamman said. (FOX News)

Environmentalists are also saying that the purchase of twenty-six hundred acres of prairie land around Joint Base Lewis-McChord will also help certain butterflies and streaked horned larks to thrive.

“Although our primary mission is fighting wars and military training, like other federal agencies, we have a requirement to support the recovery of listed species,” said Jeffrey Foster, a civilian ecologist who works at JBLM and write the grant proposal.

While I most definitely condone doing what is in our power to save endangered species I do seem to remember it being noted that this specific gopher does not even appear on our endangered species list. With the being said it brings up a tirade of questions as to why our workers are being furloughed so that money can be invested into a species that we are not even at risk of losing.

Glen Morgan, of the Freedom Foundation based in Olympia, Wash., has represented landowners who have been fighting what he calls the government takeover of private land. He said the Mazama pocket gopher is not distinct from gophers that are thriving throughout the Midwest and indeed survive remarkably well even on the JBLM artillery ranges. (FOX News)

The Mazama pocket gopher is listed by the state of Washington as a threatened species, and by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a Candidate species. State law defines a ‘threatened species’ as, “any wildlife species native to the state…that is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future…without cooperative management or removal of threats.” (wdfw.wa.gov)

When put into this context it seems that anything could be listed as a threatened species. There is no way to truly know what could go extinct in the ‘foreseeable future’ and therefore any species could be placed into this category. Truly what it boils down to is that people are being placed on furlough, being put out of work, to protect an animal that may or may not extinct. Also, the studies have shown that gophers of similar species are having no problem thriving in the exact same conditions as the Mazama gopher, so why are all of these precautionary measures being taken?

“It shows our government is out of control and our priorities are completely out of whack,” Morgan said. “And they’re skewed in a strange way that has no benefit for people who live here or even the animals they claim they’re trying to protect.” (FOX News)

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