Politics

Dept. Of Defense Spends $3.5 Million To Protect Gophers

| by Sylvan Lane
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Whether you’re a teacher, politician, soldier or construction worker, the sequestration of the federal budget has most likely impacted your life either directly or indirectly—and if it has, it probably wasn’t good. For the 650,000 civilian employees of military bases furloughed in the wake of the across-the-board spending cuts, the true costs of the sequester are all too real. However, while these men and women wait to get back to work, one group of gophers—yes, gophers—are enjoying the benefits of a $3.5 million Department of Defense grant.

The grant is going to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington state to purchase land around the base in an effort to protect the Mazama pocket gopher, according to Fox News. The gopher is neither threatened nor endangered, and this move isn’t quite sitting well with workers spurned by the sequester.

"That really makes me mad that they would do that," said Matt Hines, one of 10,000 civilian employees forced to take a 20 percent pay cut, to Fox News. "I'm all for saving animals, but at what cost?"

“In addition to the Mazama pocket gopher, environmentalists say the purchase of 2,600 acres of prairie land around JBLM will also help Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned larks,” the report from Fox News reads.

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Glen Morgan, of the Freedom Foundation based in Olympia represents landowners who have been fighting what he considers the government takeover of private land.

"It shows our government is out of control and our priorities are completely out of whack," Morgan said to Fox News. "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."

Meanwhile, members of the Ogala Indian tribe in Pine Ridge, S.D., are suffering severely from a lack a federal funding, according to The New York Times. While many programs such as Medicaid, tax credits for working families and food stamps were exempted from sequestration, similar programs designated for American Indian tribes administered through other departments weren’t spared.

“More people sick; fewer people educated; fewer people getting general assistance; more domestic violence; more alcoholism,” Richard L. Zephier, the executive director of the Oglala Sioux tribe, told The Times. “That’s all correlated to the cuts from sequestration.”

Sources: Fox News, The New York Times