If one thing is clear about the new golf course proposal by the Naval Academy Golf Association (NAGA) to lease land at Greenbury Point, located on Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis and owned by the Department of Defense (DOD), is that not much is clear.
The proposal itself is still a mystery and though not a matter of national security, it’s being treated as such.
The incestuous relationship between NSA Annapolis, a subordinate command of Naval District Washington (NDW), the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), NAGA and the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA) has resulted in a lack of transparency, documents not posted that were required to be, age discrimination at the existing golf course, no accountability for trees that were removed at the existing course and more questions than answers.
There is already an 18-hole golf course on Greenbury Point which is owned by the USNA, on land that is owned by the DOD – that course is managed by NAGA. That course was just renovated in 2019.
The area that NAGA wants to develop as a new golf course is an undeveloped portion of Greenbury Point which is currently managed as a conservation area – one the public is allowed to use for low-impact recreational purposes, when the firing range is not in use.
The firing range is unquestionably necessary for the missions of both the USNA and NSA Annapolis – mission readiness always takes priority for DOD-owned property.
What are the missions and have they strayed?
According to DOD, its mission “is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure national security.”
According the U.S. Navy, its mission is “to recruit, train, equip, and organize to deliver combat ready Naval forces to win conflicts and wars while maintaining security and deterrence through sustained forward presence.
According to the U.S. Navy, the mission of Naval District Washington is “Deliver effective and efficient shore readiness through our assigned installations to enable tenant mission execution around the globe. Provide coordination of foreign diplomatic representation and world-class Navy ceremonial resources for high-level events and National-level events interests within the National Capital Region (NCR) and beyond. Serve as a proactive and anticipatory component to Joint Task Force NCR and a willing partner to all local, state, and Federal agencies within the Region.”
According to the DOD, the mission of NSA Annapolis “is to provide material, personnel and service support to the Naval Academy by maintaining small craft, equipment and facilities for Midshipmen training, and by providing logistical support to the Naval Academy in its Midshipmen professional development program.”
According to the DOD, the mission of the USNA is “is to develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character, to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”
According to NAGA’s 2018 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 (tax return), the mission stated by NAGA to the IRS is “To fulfill the need of the USNA to have a golf course in close proximity to the Naval Academy property in order to effectively administer a golf program. The golf program focuses on the physical needs of Midshipmen, provides an invaluable opportunity for physical education and athletic training in addition to promoting their physical readiness.”
“No where in NAGA’s mission statement does it mention the Naval Academy Golf Course should be open to civilians who have no affiliation to the USNA or DOD.
Golf is not included in any DOD mission statement.
Age Discrimination at the existing golf course – including against some veterans
Until this reporter recently questioned NAGA and the USNA about NAGA’s age restriction on enlisted retirees of the military, NAGA was telling enlisted veterans that had 20 or more years of service to this country, who retired with honorable discharges and retirement benefits, they couldn’t join until they were 60-years-old.
And this was happening while NAGA had no age restrictions on civilians who never served a day in the armed forces and had no affiliation with the DOD or USNA.
In other words, NAGA was giving preference to civilians who could buy their way in.
This reporter sent the following to the USNA:
“The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in all programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The Act prohibits recipients of Federal financial assistance from taking actions that result in denying or limiting services or otherwise discriminating on the basis of age.
The USNA owns the Naval Academy Golf Course. The USNA receives federal financial assistance.
Can you tell me if the USNA was aware of the NAGA membership rule that states “Retired enlisted must be at least 60 years of age” and if so, how is that not considered age discrimination?”
A similar question was sent to NAGA and asked how long this rule had been in effect.
There’s been no response to these questions from the USNA (update – response was received after this was published – it’s been added at the end), but a reply from Katie Vonderheide, NAGA’s director of membership and marketing, stated, “Retired Enlisted does not have to be 60 years of age, there is a typo in our applications. They only need proof of retirement.”
And that “typo” or more accurately, age restriction for enlisted retirees, was removed from NAGA’s website, but still remains on their membership application, which is accessible on their website.retiredenlistedmembershipweb
This reporter responded, “Can you tell me if this is also a typo? ‘Individuals currently retired from USNA, or the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA), in the aforementioned categories and at least 65 years of age.’”
The reply from NAGA stated, “We use age 65 as somewhat of a benchmark age, since that is typically the age of retirement.”
This reporter responded, “So, that age is not set in stone and people that fall into these categories can join at whatever age they do retire?”
NAGA’s website was then updated without the age restriction for USNA and NAAA retirees and a response from Vonderheide stated, “Nope not set in stone at all, they can join when they retire.”
These NAGA-imposed age restrictions seemed to violate the Age Discrimination Act and no other military academy golf course has these age restrictions.
Are there any reasons why NAGA would do this?
The initiation fee to join NAGA for civilians with no affiliation to the USNA or DOD is $22,500 with monthly dues of $314 for single or $423 for family.
This is much more money than other NAGA members are charged. More money would normally mean more revenue.
Vonderheide previously stated NAGA is not accepting new members at this time because “exceeding capacity may jeopardize providing the best service possible.
Added to the preferential treatment for civilians with deep pockets that had no affiliation with the USNA or DOD, are these civilians “jeopardizing the best possible service” to Midshipmen or armed forces retirees? Are they taking tee times ahead of those that have affiliation to the USNA/DOD?
Though requested, there’s been no comment from the USNA leadership regarding the age discrimination on the golf course they own. (Update – the USNA responded to questions after this article was published. The answers have been added to the end to this article).
The Formerly Missing Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan and other environmental concerns
Among the protections of the Sikes Act is the Integrated Natural Resources Management Act (INRMP).
According to the DOD, “Congress established the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a- 670o) in 1960 to ensure that DoD conserves and protects the natural resources they use. Because military lands often are protected from human access and impact, they contain some of our nation’s most significant remaining large tracts of valuable natural resources. In 1997, Congress amended the Sikes Act to require DoD to develop and implement Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) to outline how each military installation with significant natural resources will manage those resources.
INRMPs are planning documents that outline how each military installation with significant natural resources will manage those resources. They integrate military mission requirements, environmental and master planning documents, cultural resources, and outdoor recreation to ensure both military operations and natural resources conservation are included and consistent with stewardship and legal requirements. INRMPs require installations to look holistically at natural resources on a landscape or ecosystem basis. They are living documents that provide direction for daily natural resources management activities, and they provide a foundation for sustaining military readiness.”
INRMPs are required to be publicly posted.
The Navy recently publicly posted several questions the agency received from reporters (and others) about the new golf course proposal, as well as their answers to these questions.
Missing from these posted questions were those asked by this reporter about the then missing, but required to be publicly posted (INRMP) – a document that has since been posted.
Ed Ziegler, public affairs director for NDW, initially stated, “NSA Annapolis does have an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan. However, the plan is an internal working document and not something we share with the public. If you have specific questions about information that is contained in the plan I can see if I can get them answered for you.”
This reporter replied, “According to the Department of Defense (see page 10/11 here – https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodm/471503m.pdf?ver=2018-11-13-125658-050), “The DoD Components make final INRMPs available electronically to the general public through the installation’s website or other appropriate outlet the INRMP for each installation.”
Ziegler replied, “looks like the INRMP Manual says we should share the IMRMP with the public. Let me get with the people who manage the INRMP and find out why we don’t have it posted on the website.”
Here’s the whole exchange (you can zoom in on these emails if they’re too small to read):
The INRMP was posted five days later, then was later moved to another Navy website and additional documents about work done at Greenbury Point, as well as the frequently asked questions and answers have also been posted on that site.Completed-Final-NSA-Annapolis-INRMP_May-2011
That INRMP states, “Proposed changes at NSAA North Severn include construction of a new Navy Exchange and Commissary, expanding the Brigade Sports Complex, a medical clinic, an Executive Learning/Conference Center, Department of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) cottages, as well as renovation of several existing facilities. Most of Greenbury Point would remain as a conservation area under this plan. Any new development at NSAA North Severn, however, must be cognizant of potential natural and cultural resources constraints such as wetlands, floodplains, and Chesapeake Bay Critical Area criteria. Any development activities must be coordinated through the natural and cultural resources programs. Regulatory agency coordination and permitting must be sought early in the planning process.”
The part about “most of Greenbury Point would remain as a conservation area under this plan” is especially important.
Remaining a conservation area wasn’t just in the INRMP for NSA Annapolis, it was also stated by the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1998.
According to Appropriations Committee, “Regarding NSA Annapolis the Committee has provided $4,200,000 for the design and demolition of the Navy radio transmitting facility [NRTF] towers at the Naval Station, Annapolis. The Committee encourages the Navy to maintain this parcel of land as a permanent wildlife refuge with managed public access. Additionally, the Committee directs the Navy to report to the congressional defense committees the status of this demolition effort and intended use of the land not later than October 15, 1998.”
The Maryland Department of Environment has a document on its website that states, “Greenbury Point is now maintained as a nature conservation and education center. The Navy’s long-term goal is to provide critical open space and wildlife habitat for the Annapolis area. The area is now an important nesting area for Osprey and Bald Eagles. The wildlife education center monitors the migration patterns of the Monarch Butterfly through a tag and release program. The habitat afforded from the undisturbed open area on Greenbury Point provide critical habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.”
This is all on public record.
“When most of the Greenbury Point towers were torn down in 1999, there was universal consensus from the Navy, Congress and our community that the best use of Greenbury Point is as a conserved natural area,” stated Joel Dunn, president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy. “Since then the Navy’s environmental program has put an enormous amount of money, effort and time into creating the Greenbury Point Conservation Area. They have planted thousands of trees, removed invasive plants, installed interpretive material and operated a nature center for many years. Today, thousands of people use it regularly and love it dearly. Knowing that history makes the idea of a private golf course on top of the Greenbury Point Conservation Area all the more upsetting”.
The Sikes Act says there can be “no net loss in the capability of installation lands to support the military mission of the installation; and (J) such other activities as the Secretary of the military department determines appropriate.”
In other words, allowing for the construction of a new golf course, which isn’t part of any military mission, on Greenbury Point, all of which is in the critical area, would not be in accordance with the Sikes Act, however the decision about “such other activities” is left to the Secretary of the Navy.
And this is likely how a letter from Chet Gladchuk to the Secretary of the Navy came to be.
Chet Gladchuk is the president of both the NAAA and the NAGA, two non-government organizations – he wants another golf course.
This is the same person that manages the existing Naval Academy Golf Course where age discrimination was being used against some retired veterans, as well as retirees of the USNA and NAAA.
In the military, there’s what’s called the chain of command. Even if you’re not a member of the military and still work around the DOD, one is normally is expected to follow a chain of command.
Earlier this year, Gladchuck sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy about his new golf course idea. He cc’d USNA Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck on the letter.
The letter was made available to the public because of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Rachel Pacella, a reporter for The Capital Gazette.Pacella-FOIA-Response-Enclosure
Is someone that is not part of the Navy chain of command or an employee of the Department of Defense (DOD) allowed to request changes for a DOD-owned property? No.
That Gladchuk sent a letter directly to the Secretary of the Navy, without going through the correct channels, is known, in Navy terminology, as jumping the chain of command. In non-Navy terminology, it’s known as going outside of one’s lane.
Gladchuk got a response to his letter from James B. Balocki, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (Installations, Energy and Facilities) which stated, “Approval requests for leasing actions must come from a Department of the Navy component. I recommend you reach out to the Public Works Officer (PWO) of NSA Annapolis.”
In other words, get back in your lane and go up the chain of command.
Exactly who in the chain of command did Gladchuk jump over with his letter? As Belocki mentioned, there’s the public works officer of NSA Annapolis who is responsible for the projects done on the installation. There’s also the commanding officer of NSA Annapolis, the commanding officer of Naval District Washington and yes, the USNA superintendent, who supposedly has oversight of Gladchuk.
Did the superintendent know the letter being sent by Gladchuk was going to be sent before it was? Did he care?
Though this reporter asked, no response has been received. (Update – the USNA responded to questions after this article was published. The answers have been added to the end to this article).
Gladchuk’s letter is dated February 15, 2022. Balcoki’s reply is dated May 6.
Without knowing Gladchuk’s letter or Balocki’s response existed, this reporter sent an email to the USNA’s public affairs office on May 20, which questioned the Superintendent’s oversight of Gladchuk.
That email stated, “While the NAAA has its constitution posted that indicates “The Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy (the “Superintendent”) is neither an officer of the Association nor a member of its Board of Control, but holds oversight powers and responsibilities with regard to the Association, as elaborated in this Constitution.” It continues, “The Superintendent hires the Director of Athletics, who serves as the President of the Association. Through the Superintendent’s oversight of the Director of Athletics and Board of Control, the Superintendent exercises final authority over all athletic policy decisions at the Naval Academy and is responsible for institutional control of the Naval Academy’s varsity athletics program as per this Constitution and National Collegiate Athletic Association legislation.”
There’s no such constitution posted for the Naval Academy Golf Association(NAGA). Does the Superintendent of the USNA have oversight on the NAGA?
Does the Superintendent have any comments about the public opposition to the possibility of a golf course expansion? For background – the Severn River Association, Chesapeake Conservancy and Chesapeake Bay Foundation have all shared their opposition to a golf course expansion.”
No reply was received.
Gladchuk’s letter to the Secretary of the Navy stated, “Our vision includes mitigation efforts that include a walking trail for the community, a berm to protect some environmentally sensitive hazardous material on the land, address issues regarding the Navy’s existing firing range, and mitigation of loss of trees and the conservation area.”
That “environmentally sensitive hazardous material” is likely spent ammunition that contains lead, which comes from firing range.
If Gladchuk wants a berm to ensure lead isn’t leaching into the environment at Greenbury Point, that could be considered benevolent of him to have NAGA pay for it – as for the rest of what he wants, that’s another story.
Greenbury Point already has a lot of walking trails and these are trails where people need not be concerned with getting hit by errant golf ball and trails that are filled with all sorts of flora and fauna one wouldn’t see on a golf course. As for tree mitigation, that wouldn’t be required if no trees are taken down – for a new golf course, next to an existing golf course.
Gladchuk’s letter to the Secretary of the Navy neglected to mention how many civilians with no connection to the USNA or DOD are using the current golf course. He mentions active duty personnel, military retirees and Midshipmen.
Gladchuk also neglected to mention in his letter how NAGA was using age discrimination against some military retirees, as well as retirees from the USNA and NAAA.
Gladchuk’s relationship with NAGA, NAAA and the U.S. Naval Academy has been questioned more than once.
A recent article in Inside Climate News referred to it as “a convoluted arrangement” and further stated, “Both private organizations—NAGA and NAAA—compensate Gladchuk for his services as president. According to publicly available tax returns filed by NAGA between 2015 and 2018, Gladchuk made almost $7 million in salary and bonuses from NAGA alone.
NAAA’s tax filings for the same time period, or the previous years, were not available. Gladchuk has run it as president for over two decades. A 2018 editorial in the Capital Gazette praised Gladchuk’s overall performance but chided NAAA, which benefits from federal funding as well as private contributions, for a lack of transparency and operating behind a veil of secrecy, and urged it to disclose its financial statements.”
As for NAGA, which seems to be accustomed to operating “behind a veil of secrecy,” Gladchuk is now attempting to put the organization in charge of developing and operating a new golf course on an undeveloped and environmentally-sensitive property.
According to a Capital Gazette article, “He said his request for a sole source lease will mean the golf association can complete the work of collecting public input and paying to design a project with a promise from the Navy that the golf association will operate whatever is ultimately built on the land, if anything. They don’t want to deliver a well-designed project with community input that is then bid to someone else to run, Gladchuk said.”
Gladchuk is no stranger to environmental problems that happened on his watch.
“The U.S. Naval Academy’s Athletic Association has been targeted by state environmental authorities for not controlling dirt-filled runoff from the site of its stadium renovation,” stated a Washington Post article from 2004.
The article continues with a quote from a Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist – “They really never did what they were supposed to do out there,” Schnabel said.
Back to those questions that were posted by the Navy – some that came from this reporter were included on the list, including the one about if trees were removed for the 2019 renovation of the existing golf course and if it was 500, as was stated in a public review of the course on Facebook.
No one knows.
According to Ziegler, “I have not been able to confirm that 500 tress (sp) were removed. Our PWD combed through documentation and could not find where trees were removed. There have been several projects at the golf course over the last few years and the only project that discussed trees being removed was the Short Game Practice Course project. A building was installed, which required some trees to be removed, but they were mitigated with the replacement of trees.”
With a requirement for new trees to be planted when other trees are removed, how can no one know?
Chesapeake Conservancy also wanted to know how many trees were removed and they reached out to one of their partners for help.
“An analysis of removed trees at the existing recently renovated golf course conducted by Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center reveals that approximately 191 trees were removed,” explained Jody Couser, senior vice president of communications for Chesapeake Conservancy. “The geospatial analysts looked at tree counts from 2018, provided by the University of Vermont (a Chesapeake Conservancy partner in the production of high-resolution land cover data for the Chesapeake) and compared those counts to June 2022 aerial imagery to find where tree loss occurred.”
NAGA has an Instagram account with many photos and videos of their 2019 renovation to the existing golf course.
Jesse Iliff, executive director of the Severn River Association, reviewed some of these posts.
I’m looking at this photo from Oct 1, 2019,” said Iliff. “It shows a lot of construction equipment and lots of grading and exposed soil – there’s totally insufficient erosion and sediment control. There is no greater source of sediment to a receiving waterway than an improperly stabilized construction site.”
In this case, the receiving waterway was the Severn River.
“It’s a threat,” said Iliff. “There are things in the pictures from the prior renovation of the golf course that make me wonder how seriously Naval Academy Golf Association takes their legal requirements when they’re building something.”
The golf course renovation did receive a sustainability award from the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA).
According to its website, “The NGCOA is the only trade association dedicated exclusively to golf course owners and operators. NGCOA members include owners, operators and general managers of daily-fee, semi-private, private and resort courses of all sizes. While diverse in its makeup, the association offers information and inspiration on how to operate golf facilities as efficiently and profitably as possible.”
There are many environmental regulations that protect Greenbury Point – most of these were written about on this site previously and all of those articles are linked at the bottom of this.
Additional regulations were spelled out in the 2015 Final Environmental Assessment for the USNA’s Center for Cyber Security Studies – this document is public on the USNA website.Final_EA_for_the_CCSS_27April2015
Of note in that environmental assessment is “No significant impact to vegetation or submerged aquatic vegetation” and “No significant impacts to wildlife, migratory birds, or wildlife habitat are anticipated.”
That project was on the USNA campus, not on Greenbury Point, which is undeveloped and managed for conservation.
Gladchuk was recently quoted in a Washington Post article – “It’s overgrown … It’s infested with ticks. The walking trails are full of invasive species. It’s just undeveloped land.”
“Just undeveloped land” with ticks and invasive species seems a lot like what some might refer to as natural area, green space, property that supports much biodiversity, wildlife habitat or maybe even, conservation land.
As for ticks, Gladchuck might not have realized their environmental benefits, including being a food source for wildlife and helping to balance deer populations.
Moving on, there was another question.
Why is NAGA charging some members with monthly irrigation assessments for a golf course on DOD-owned property?
Gladchuk emailed, “we use 100% reclaimed water that comes off the property and is recycled..It is all collected in retention ponds……the assessment to all the members is for a new irrigation system we installed for the entire course…it is state of the art for efficiency and measured water usage……this should answer the questions…”
In other words, NAGA isn’t charging people for water, but for the irrigation system itself – Gladchuk indicated the irrigation assessments will stop once the irrigation system is paid off.
NAGA does shield a fair amount of information from the public.
Their 2018 NAGA tax return is the most current for the organization that is posted by the IRS – in it, it was stated by NAGA, “Currently the organization does not make its governing documents, conflict of interest statement or financial statements available to the general public.”
As for the new and secret golf course proposal, NAGA planned a meeting to inform neighboring community members about it, then cancelled the meeting. It has yet to be rescheduled.
The new course proposal is different than other projects that have been done at NSA Annapolis and the difference was not likely not intended by NAGA.
Community members found out about the proposal and that created a firestorm of concerns, the creation of a Save Greenbury Point Facebook group, opposition from environmental organizations, community members and elected officials, as well as a petition by Chesapeake Conservancy and the Severn River Association and a more recent petition.
The Washington Post article stated, “Gladchuk, though unsurprised by the outcry, characterized the response as alarmist and wildly premature to what he describes as the equivalent of a trial balloon.”
“Alarmist and wildly premature” might not be entirely accurate given that other projects on NSA Annapolis, including the 2019 golf course renovation, were green-lighted with very little, if any, public transparency.
Concerns shared on social media about Gladchuk/NAAA predate this latest golf course proposal and some of these came from inside the USNA.
More recently and related to the golf course proposal, some midshipmen are using Jodel, another social media platform, to share their thoughts about it.
One Jodel post states, “USNA spending millions to build a new golf course in a protected ecological area while Bancroft is literally falling apart and the gyms are decrepit is the most USNA thing I’ve ever heard.”
While NAGA, a non-profit, would be paying for the new course, the midshipman’s concern about the “protected ecological area” indicates that concern about this new golf course idea is coming from within the USNA also.
A reply to that post states, “Yes it’s different funds but maybe people who donate should consider what they’re donating to more carefully… like the QOL of the actual students :/”
There’s another Jodel post that simply states, “We don’t need a new golf course.”
These midshipmen are supposed to be the focus of NAGA’s mission, at least according to the mission NAGA stated to the IRS.
While there are many unknowns, Gladchuk and his staff have been very responsive to questions asked by this reporter.
Golf courses at other military academies
What happens at other military academies where golf courses exist?
Lets start with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point because that’s the Army’s equivalent of the USNA.
The West Point Golf Course is run by U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation, which is part of a government entity that has quite a bit of oversight – this differs from the Naval Academy Golf Course, which is managed by NAGA, a non-government organization with a president that is supposedly accountable to the superintendent of the USNA.
Those hefty fees one finds at the Naval Academy Golf Course are non-existent at West Point. There are no membership or initiation fees to an association required, but one can purchase an annual pass.
There are no age-limitations at the West Point Golf Course and while civilians, without affiliation to DOD/West Point, can use the course, it’s limited to those from the surrounding area of ” Highland Falls/Ft. Montgomery and surrounding Orange County residents.”
Again, this differs from the Naval Academy Golf Course which has no geographic limitations for the civilians who can buy their way in. This geographic limitation by West Point Golf Course likely ensures there aren’t too many people using the course or wanting to.
The U.S. Air Force Academy has its Eisenhower Golf Course, which like West Point Golf Course, is run by a government entity. And there are no initiations fees like those at the Naval Academy Golf Course that are paid to NAGA. It also has no age limitations.
It’s very clear which one of these golf courses at military academies is unlike the others, as is the money involved.
While the relationship between USNA, NSA Annapolis, NDW and NAGA predates the leadership of all of these Navy entities, as well as the Secretary of the Navy, in Navy terms, it’s their watch now – they’re responsible for decisions that happen on NSA Annapolis.
The USNA superintendent has made it clear he’s not responding to questions about his oversite of NAGA and Chet Gladchuk. Then again, NAAA brings a lot of money and athletes into the USNA. (Update – the USNA responded to questions after this article was published – those answers have been added to the end).
Who else has oversite of these Naval installations?
Because of the U.S. Constitution, oversite of our armed forces goes to the President and Congress. From there it goes to the Secretary of Defense and the secretaries of each of the military branches – the Secretary of the Navy in this case.
With the president’s office is the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), created by the National Environmental Policy Act, which has quite a lot of oversight.
In Congress, there are some committees that could be especially important to what has already happened on NSA Annapolis and what has been proposed by NAGA.
Because of the many environmental protections on DOD-owned land, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency have significant oversite ensuring projects are accordance with federal laws.
To some extent the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources also has some oversight, though the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution can come into play with limiting a state’s ability to enforce state/local laws on federal property.
This reporter asked MDE about their enforcement powers. The answer, provided by Mark Shaffer, MDE’s communications director, follows:
“This is a complicated legal question, and it depends on a variety of factors, such as whether the federal program has been delegated to the state, or whether the federal statute provides for such authority. A statute must specifically waive sovereign immunity in order for the federal government to be subject to enforcement. As a practical matter, the Department of Defense seeks to be in compliance with all state and federal laws at all times. MDE works with the Department of Defense to ensure that Maryland’s environment and public health is protected. When a facility is found to be out of compliance we work with the facility leaders and federal partners to address the issue immediately.
Federal law explicitly states that federal facilities are subject to state requirements, including permits. Also, MDE is authorized by EPA to administer the federal hazardous waste permitting program. The Department of Defense does its own cleanup of hazardous substances at its sites. For sites that are listed on the National Priorities List, EPA is the lead regulator but partners with MDE to ensure that all state regulations are enforced including critical areas like the Chesapeake Bay. Here is a website that might be helpful: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-federal-facilities.”
Added to the many environmental protections for NSA Annapolis, there are others that are more recent and/or on the horizon.
Leasing federal land, which is undeveloped and managed for conservation, for use as a membership-only golf course could be considered the quintessential opposite of the Environmental Justice for All Act.
The bill, which has not yet passed, includes the statement, “Environmental justice disparities are also exhibited through a lack of equitable access to green spaces, public recreation opportunities, and information and data on potential exposure to environmental hazards.”
On July 21, 2022, the White House announced, “an interagency effort, called the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), that will work to create more safe, affordable, and equitable opportunities for Americans to get outdoors. The FICOR – which includes leaders from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense – will focus on improving access to nature, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing the public with improved and more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters.”
And there’s Climate Emergency Act of 2021, known as the Climate Bill, which has not yet passed.
This bill states the federal government will avoid solutions that increase inequality, that exacerbate or fail to reduce pollution at the source, that violate human rights, that privatize public land, public water, or natural resources and that expedite the destruction of ecosystems.
None of these environmental protections, if there is oversite, would bode would well for approving the construction of a new golf course, next to an existing golf course that was renovated in 2019.
The NSA Annapolis INRMP states, “The NSA Annapolis Commanding Officer must ensure preparation, completion, and implementation of the INRMP and should systematically apply conservation practices set forth in the plan. It is his/her responsibility to act as steward of installation natural resources and integrate natural resources requirements into the day-to-day decision-making process; involve appropriate operational and training commands in the INRMP review process to ensure no net loss of military mission; and endorse this INRMP via Commanding Officer signature.”
The NSA Annapolis INRMP includes the map below that outlines conservations areas.
Another potential issue with the relationship between all entities involved on NSA Annapolis is rank – the commanding officer of NSA Annapolis is a Navy captain who is significantly outranked by the superintendent of the USNA, a three star admiral. The USNA superintendent also outranks the commandant of NDW, a two star admiral.
The issues that have happened on the existing golf course and on NSA Annapolis, as well as the global/local climate and environmental issues, will not be lessened by giving NAGA, or anyone else, a lease to build another golf course on land managed for conservation, next to an existing golf course that was just renovated.
What could be lessened, if there was any oversight, is the incestuous relationship between NAGA, USNA, NSA Annapolis and NDW that has caused their missions and responsibilities to veer off course to the possible detriment of the U.S. Navy, the environment and the American people.
We will continue to follow this story. Feel free to subscribe on the bottom of this page.
Donna L. Cole is an award-winning multimedia and investigative reporter. She’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Update (8/3/2022 / 6:46 pm) – the USNA emailed me at 5:59 pm with answers to some of the questions previously asked.
Q: Does the USNA lease the land from NSA Annapolis for the golf course or does the golf course and land belong to the USNA?
A: The land is owned by the Department of the Navy and is leased to the Naval Academy Golf Association, a 501(c)(7) organization.
Q. There’s no such constitution posted for the Naval Academy Golf Association(NAGA). Does the Superintendent of the USNA have oversight on the NAGA?
A: The Superintendent has no direct relationship with the Naval Academy Golf Association.
Q. Does the Superintendent have any comments about the public opposition to the possibility of a golf course expansion?
A: The Superintendent has not expressed an opinion on the golf course proposal.
Q. Does Admiral Buck consider Gladchuk’s letter to SecNav jumping the chain of command? Did Admiral Buck know about the letter before it was sent?
A: Vice Adm. Buck was aware of Mr. Gladchuk’s letter before it was sent.
Q. Can you tell me if the USNA was aware of the NAGA membership rule that states, “Retired enlisted must be at least 60 years of age” and if so, how is that not considered age discrimination?
A: Question answered by NAGA. The land is owned by the Department of the Navy, and is leased to the Naval Academy Golf Association. The Naval Academy does not own the land that is licensed to the Naval Academy Golf Association and was not aware of the membership rule regarding the retired enlisted minimum age.
For more reading about the new golf course proposal at Greenbury Point –