Balancing military, environmental priorities

The Dec. 13 article "In the Arizona Desert, it's Pronghorns versus F-16s" highlighted critical issues that affect both our nation's environment and the readiness of our armed forces. The Department of Defense takes very seriously its role as a responsible steward - of our military personnel, and of the environment in which they train.

In recent years, pressures on range areas have become a major issue for both environmentalists and DOD. As cities have grown around ranges, it has become increasingly challenging to maintain a balance between national defense and environmental, recreational, and industrial needs. DOD spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to maintain this natural asset and protect the environment while ensuring that national defense requirements are met.

We must, and will, continue to work hard to build on the significant progress generated by an open and participatory public debate at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona, and at other locations throughout the nation, to ensure that we strike a balance between environmental and national security needs acceptable to all.

Sherri W. Goodman WashingtonThomas K. Longstreth US deputy undersecretaries of Defense

Growth management: tall order

As the person responsible for ensuring effective implementation of the Growth Management Act of 1990 in Washington State, I'm eager to respond to the Dec. 16 article "Backlash against urban sprawl broadens."

I concede that we have not successfully finished "managing" the effects of adding about 100,000 people to our population each year. Almost 300 counties and cities now have adopted ordinances to protect environmentally critical areas, including fish habitat. Publication this month of the Endangered Species Act rules required by the federal government for the recovery of salmon reveals that our nine years of groundwork have paid great dividends.

Washington's vesting law - which defines the rules that govern land development - had real consequences for the rate of growth- management implementation. The Growth Management Act required the adoption of comprehensive land-use plans within four years with the implementation ordinances to follow within 6 months. Even if all local governments had complied with those deadlines, we gave the development community four years to submit development projects vested under the old rules. Consequently, we filled our regulatory pipeline with many years' worth of projects that largely failed to conform to the requirements of the act.

It's no wonder we're only now seeing the kinds of compact development, urban infilling, and concurrent provision of public services promised in the act. That's not a failure of implementation: It's a certain consequence of our failure to amend the vesting statute.

Steve Wells Olympia, Wash. Washington Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development

Easing into boot camp

Regarding "General brings new style to boot camp" (Dec. 16): As a marine with 15 years of service and many, many hard miles on my legs, I applaud the general's compassion in introducing recruits gradually into physical conditioning. We marines sometimes take the Neanderthal approach to training and handling of the "weak" ones. As caretakers of our nation's defense we take care of any and all weaknesses that others outside our country prey on. It is reassuring that some of our leaders take the time to train with a mix of compassion yet toughness that allows us to work as a team.

George Wingate Woodbridge, Va.

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