Today's Orlando Sentinel reports
on yesterday's hearing at which hundreds of Titusville-area residents told NASA representatives that they want to keep Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
for birds and other wildlife.
A final assessment of the environmental concerns likely will be released by mid-September, said NASA's Mario Busacca. Federal law requires that the agency determine whether there would be a serious impact.
About 200 acres inside the sanctuary that attracts nearly a million visitors annually is one of two possible sites for the proposed Commercial Vertical Launch Complex. The other site borders the Atlantic coast inside the restricted area of Kennedy Space Center.
Endangered wildlife and wetlands exist in both locations, but of 11 possible sites, they best fit other criteria established by NASA, such as distance from residential areas and risk from hurricane storm surge, officials said.
However, building in the refuge could affect or even shut down the visitor center and many of the choice spots for bird-watching, which brings in millions of tourist dollars. Parts of Mosquito Lagoon, popular for fishing and kayaking, and Playalinda Beach also could be closed during launches.
For information about the proposal and the Feb. 28 hearing in New Smyrna, click here
. More details from NASA appear here
, along with contact information.
Labels: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife refuge