Summer 1998:
Army Tries to Crush Butterflies
NABA Fights Back!

On March 12, 1998, NABA filed legal papers in United States federal court, asking the court to forbid any further degradation to the Regal Fritillary habitat at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in south central Pennsylvania by the U.S. Army and Pennsylvania National Guard. In 1993, a Nature Conservancy survey identified 507 acres of Regal Fritillary habitat at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation.Subsequent to that survey, the military has already destroyed 170 acres of habitat. Current plans for a continued expansion of tank maneuvering areas will impact, and probably destroy, approximately one-half of the remaining habitat - almost certainly dooming the last remaining viable colony of Regal Fritillaries in eastern North America.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shares NABA's view of the threat to the Regal Fritillary colony. We are very grateful to the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, and especially to Harry Zirlin and Bruce Hart of that law firm, for representing NABA pro bono in this matter. Thanks also to the many NABA members who wrote letters to the Army and National Guard about this grave issue.

Late-breaking Regal Fritillary News
As this issue of American Butterflies was in press, the United States Army agreed with NABA that its plans for a tracked vehicle maneuvering area at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania were inappropriate without further study. Faced with NABA's legal action, the Army and Pennsylvania National Guard agreed to file an Environmental Impact Statement, assessing the effect of these activities on the butterfly, and to work with NABA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to attempt to develop a plan that would allow the Regal Fritillaries to survive. This victory for butterflies, gives the Regals at least another year to live, but does not, as yet, guarantee their long-term fate, since, after further study, the Army may yet decide to proceed with its current plans. We will keep NABA members posted.

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19 March 2000
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