Dole missed a prime opportunity early on, when strong local oppositions developed in rural northeastern North Carolina to the Navy's proposed jet landing field near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. It was a classic confrontation between ordinary citizens and a powerful government.
Many mistook it as a local dispute, nothing more than a NIMBY reaction. But national environmental groups, as well as farmland preservation advocates, saw it as an important test of whether the nation's environmental laws and property rights mean anything. It was the perfect chance for a politician to stand up for powerless people.