News FocusEcology

The Great DOE Land Rush?

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Science  23 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5389, pp. 616-617
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5389.616

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To cope with post-Cold War budget cuts, the Department of Energy has been quietly divesting itself of wilderness parcels no longer deemed essential for safeguarding the nation's weapons labs and is considering selling off additional land around its national labs that has been undisturbed for decades. These zones have become protected havens for wildlife and valuable locations for ecological research. So far, three labs have given up more than 1200 hectares (ha) of buffer zone, much of which has been sold to developers for house lots, landfills, and commercial construction, and another 5200 ha may soon be put on the auction block. Scientists acknowledge that they have been slow to take up the cause, but the deals are setting off alarms among environmental groups.