The price of conversion

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:

MADISON, Indiana –– The
pros and cons of converting no-man’s land
into wildlife refuges are nowhere more evi-
dent than at the 57,600-acre Jefferson
Proving Ground. Since 1941, Army per-
sonnel have fired more than 23 million
artillery, mortar, and tank rounds at
Jefferson, including 1.4 million dud
rounds that may still go off at any minute.
The Army wants to close Jefferson, to
save $7 million a year. But the closure
will cost southern Indiana at least 410
civilian jobs. Virtually the only alternative
use for the site would be as a wildlife
refuge, which would require the least
amount of clean-up. But even removing
enough unexploded ordinance to make
Jefferson minimally safe for refuge person-
nel could run as high as $550 million.
Despite all the shooting, the
edges of Jefferson are still forested, while
the firing ranges, carpeted with wildflow-
ers, attract birds and butterflies. Whether
or not Jefferson is formally designated a
wldlife refuge, chances are it will be
increasingly important to wildlife as the
human presence diminishes.
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