No Sequester Cuts for Protected Gophers as Defense Dept. Workers Take Furloughs

Saturday, 13 Jul 2013 12:34 PM

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While hundreds of thousands of civilian employees and their families deal with the harsh realities of being furloughed due to sequestration, the Defense Department is pouring millions of dollars into the protection of gophers and butterflies, Fox News reports.

The Defense Department recently awarded a $3.5 million grant to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to buy the 2,600 acres of prairie land surrounding it.

The move is part of an attempt to protect the Mazama pocket gopher, a species that is not considered either endangered or threatened.

As can be expected, the price tag has left those who have been furloughed angry and confused.

“That really makes me mad that they would do that,” said Matt Hines, a civilian employee forced to take a 20 percent pay cut.

“I'm all for saving animals, but at what cost?”

Sarah Hamman of the Center for National Lands Management has been studying the Mazama pocket gopher in the land surrounding Lewis-McChord and is grateful for the military's monetary commitment.

“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.

Mazama pocket gophers are not the only creatures benefiting from the land purchase.

According to environmentalists, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned larks will also be protected.

Glen Morgan, a lawyer for the Olympia, Washington-based Freedom Foundation, has represented landowners fighting what they see as the government takeover of private land.

Morgan said there’s nothing particularly unique about the Mazama pocket gopher and sees the multi-million dollar grant as an example of a government that’s lost its way.

“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.”

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