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Navy’s Silver Strand Expansion Could Harm Vulnerable Species

The Navy hopes to have a plan in place by the end of the year to expand its training activities on the Silver Strand. But, California’s Coastal Commission has some reservations about the expansion.

The Navy foresees a need to increase its training activities along the Silver Strand by about a third over the next five years. To accommodate that plan they say they need less restricted access to areas currently set aside for threatened species.

Coastal Commission members were unwilling to drop several conditions related to the protection of those species from their approval of the expansion plan.

Alex Stone of the Navy said they will have to determine whether the Navy’s training needs can be met while complying with the commission’s requests.

“Since the meeting just ended we’re just taking the time to assess the conditions the commission included in their approval. So we haven’t made any steps or evaluations at this point, but we certainly are going to looking at it,” he said

The threatened species in the area include snowy plovers, least terns and San Diego fairy shrimp.

The commissioners are asking the Navy to maintain protections for the three sensitive species in the area. Snowy plovers and least terns, nest along the Silver Strand and San Diego fairy shrimp are found in pools that develop seasonally near the beaches.

Those protections could conflict with the Navy's training needs, though. Navy representatives attended the commission's Thursday meeting in hopes of getting several of the commissioners' conditions dropped.

“In general, we tried to look at the conditions that were recommended and where they conflicted with our proposed actions or we just didn’t feel they were necessary, we brought that up at the meeting today,” said Stone.

If the Navy determines they cannot meet their training needs and comply with the commission’s requests there is a federal process for resolving the disagreement.

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