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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 291-03
April 30, 2003

DEPARTMENT OF NAVY TRANSFERS VIEQUES PROPERTY

The Department of the Navy has transferred all real property on the eastern end of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico to the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Interior as required under the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-398), as amended by Section 1049 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law 107-107).

Under the law, Department of Interior is required to develop the land for use as a wildlife refuge, with the former live impact area to be designated a wilderness area and closed to the public. This year $2.3 million has been designated for the Department of Interior to protect and conserve these natural resources. Additionally, Department of the Navy is demolishing and removing all temporary facilities and structures.

Department of the Navy will retain responsibility for the environmental cleanup of this property. The final extent and cost of the cleanup is linked to land use plans being developed by Department of Interior in compliance with the National Wildlife Refuge Act. The Department of the Navy will participate in future decisions and actions regarding the long-term environmental cleanup at Vieques.

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