Friday, March 11, 2016

Shelling Out Our Tax Dollars

A few days ago there were reports that Navy SEALS are suffering from a shortage of rifles.
Navy SEAL teams don't have enough combat rifles to go around, even as these highly trained forces are relied on more than ever to carry out counterterrorism operations and other secretive missions...

After SEALs return from a deployment, their rifles are given to other commandos who are shipping out... This weapons carousel undercuts the "train like you fight" ethos of the U.S. special operations forces...

Sharing rifles may seem inconsequential. It's not. The weapons, which are outfitted with telescopic targeting sights and laser pointers, are fine-tuned to individual specifications and become intensely personal pieces of gear.
That's bad enough. But this report is even worse.

Taxpayers to shell out $50M for Marines to evacuate 1,200 Mojave tortoises
Taxpayers will be forking over $50 million to have the Marines remove nearly 1,200 tortoises from future training grounds in the Mojave Desert...
Simple math tells us that $50 million divided by 1200 tortoises works out to $41,667 per hard-shelled reptile. Hell, for a mere $25,000 apiece I'll go out there and relocate the damn things myself.

But wait. It gets worse.
... similar efforts in the past have proven disastrous, say environmentalists.
Oh great. We taxpayers are going to shell out (sorry...) $50 million on something that's doomed to failure.

Sounds a lot like Jeb Bush's campaign.
The desert tortoises, already under stress from drought, disease and human interference, will be airlifted later this month from 130,000 acres surrounding the Corps' Air Ground Combat Center. The center is undergoing an expansion to facilitate live fire and maneuver training for full-scale Marine Expeditionary Brigade-sized elements.

The area slated for expansion is in prime tortoise habitat, and the number of breeding adults has dropped by about 50 percent over the last decade, according to a recent survey by federal biologists.
So they're already going down the drain, so to speak. Why on earth should we spend a small fortune (well, by government standards it may be a small fortune - by my standards it's a freaking huge one) to relocate critters that appear to be on their way out anyway?
Some environmentalists are against the pricey effort to relocate the tortoises, which can stress the animals and leave them vulnerable to dehydration, predators and human interaction...
Dehydration? Seriously? Just transport them in a bucket of water. Problem solved.
In 2008, the Army moved 670 tortoises from its National Training Center near Barstow to new homes in the western Mojave. That $8.6 million effort proved disastrous when it was learned that a large percentage of them died within a year, many eaten by coyotes.
I knew coyotes would eat almost anything. But tortoises? Is that the coyote version of oysters on the half shell?

(Side note: I ate a dozen oysters on the half shell on my wedding night. Only 8 of them worked...)

And why does it cost the Army roughly $9 million to move 670 tortoises, while it costs the Marines over five times that much to move less than twice as many?
The plan, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will utilize 100 biologists who will capture 900 adult tortoises and put transmitters on them before releasing them on nearby public lands. Another 235 hatchlings raised in pens at the base also will be relocated once they are strong enough to survive on their own.
Again with the math - that works out to 1 biologist for 9 tortoises. The student to faculty ratio at the university where I used to teach was about twice that. Evidently we as a society think tortoises are more valuable than students.
The Combat Center raises the hatchlings in its 6-acre Tortoise Research and Captive Rearing Site...
"What did you do during the war, Daddy?"
"I raised baby tortoises."



Well Seasoned Fool said...

Let me add to the stupidity. Why can't the Marines use the already established Army facility? I believe it is called the NATIONAL Maneuver Center.

Old NFO said...

Interservice rivalry. Army won't 'share' with the Corps... I'll go halfs on the turtles... :-)

CenTexTim said...

WSF - what NFO said. Soldiers and Marines don't play well together.

NFO - You and I are veterans. I have a Hispanic buddy, and I know a female who is part Cherokee. If we all get together we can get Veteran, woman, and minority preference points. Now all we need is a gay person top join us, and we'll lock up the tortoise relocation contract. $50 million divided 5 ways - we could retire!

Oh, wait...