"I was at the Lake Quinault Inn last February when I was shocked by an incredibly loud noise right over the lodge – clearly some sort of airplane. Even though I was standing right at the check-in desk when it happened, the employees acted as if they had heard nothing and would not tell me what the noise was. It was only when I searched the internet that I realized what I had heard. Seems like the park service employees have been instructed to simply ignore this horrible intrusion to the peace and quiet of the rain forest."
Navy Issues Draft EIS for More Growlers
November 19, 2016
The US Navy recently released its draft Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposed addition of 36 more Growler aircraft at NAS Whidbey Island. The Navy currently flies 82 Growlers with 12 more as backup at the base. A total of 153 Growler jets have already been funded and are scheduled to all be at Whidbey by sometime in 2017.
The DEIS calls for an increase in the number of air field operations at Whidbey's Ault Field of up to 38,700 each year. It is not immediately clear how many of these operations will be operating over the Electronic Warfare Range, where the Navy has previously promised an increase of only 10% over its historical level of 1250 flights per year.
Numerous citizens on the North Olympic Peninsula have complained about the current noise levels and the frequency with which these aircraft fly. So far, these complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears. For a real view of how these thunderous jets affect real people see this article just published in Seattle Met. And this is before the huge increases called for by the DEIS.
STOP has discussed these issues in previous communications. Many of you submitted comments questioning the justification for this increase after the Navy's scoping session in 2014.
Now is the time for you to raise your voices again.
You can do this by showing up at one of the
Forest Service Issues Draft Decision Notice to Approve Permit for Navy's Electronic Warfare Range
in Olympic National Forest
On November 29, the Forest Service issued a "Draft Decision Notice" in preparation of approving a special use permit to allow the Navy to install mobile electronic emitters within the Olympic National Forest as part of the Navy's electronic warfare range training activities on the Olympic Peninsula. Concerned citizens have already begun to voice their objections by writing the Forest Service (read objection letter here).
Find links to the Forest Service documents in the following letter signed by District Ranger Dean Millett.
USDA United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service, Olympic National Forest
Pacific Ranger District
437 Tillicum Lane,Forks, WA 98331
File Code: 1950
Date: November 29, 2016
Dear Interested Party:
As the Responsible Official, I have prepared a Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (DN/FONSI) that would adopt the Pacific Northwest Electronic Warfare Range Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by the U.S. Navy in 2014.
The Draft DN/FONSI would authorize a Special Use Permit to allow the U.S. Navy to conduct training on Olympic National Forest for a period of up to five years. The permit would allow for the operation of mobile electronic emitters at eleven roadside locations and include project design features and standard operating procedures to protect resources and public health and safety. Legal locations are as follows: T22N, R9W, Section 31; T22N, RlOW, Sections 14, 24, 33; T23N, RlOW, Section 1; T24N, RlOW, Sections 2, 28; T24N, R9W, Section 31; T28N,
R12W, Section 1; T29N, RllW, Section 30; T29N, R12W, Sections 14, 15.
The EA, Draft DN/FONSI, and associated project documents are available on-line for review at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa project exp.php?project=42759
I carefully considered public input, along with other factors, in making my proposed decision as documented in the Draft DN/FONSI to implement Alternative 1 from the EA with modifications.
This proposed decision is subject to objection pursuant to 36 CFR 218, Subparts A and B. Objections will only be accepted from those who submitted project-specific written comments during scoping (6/26/2014 through 7/10/2014) or other designated comment periods (8/4/2014 through 9/6/2014 and 9/26/2014 through 11/28/2014). Issues raised in objections must be based on previously submitted comments unless based on new information arising after these opportunities to comment.
Objections must be submitted within 45 days following the publication of the legal notice in The Daily World (Aberdeen, Washington) and The Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, Washington). The date of these legal notices is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an objection. Those wishing to file an objection should not rely upon dates or time fames provided by any other source. It is the objector's responsibility to ensure evidence of timely receipt (36 CFR 218.9).
Objections must be submitted to Reviewing Officer Reta Laford. Electronic objections should be submitted to: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/Commentlnput?project = 42759 . Objections may alternatively be submitted by FAX (360-956-2330) and by mail or in person (1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW, Olympia, WA 98512) during business hours (M-F 8:00am to 4:30pm). In all cases, the subject line should state "OBJECTION Pacific Northwest Electronic Warfare Range".
Objections must include the following minimum items as specified in 36 CFR 218.8(d):
1) Your name, address, and telephone.
2) Your signature or other verification of authorship.
3) Identification of a single lead objector when applicable.
4) The project name (Pacific Northwest Electronic Warfare Range), the Responsible Official's name (Dean Millett) and title (District Ranger), and name of affected National Forest (Olympic National Forest) and/or Ranger District (Pacific Ranger District).
5) Reasons for, and suggested remedies to resolve, your objections.
6) Description of the connection between your objections and your prior comments. Incorporation of documents by reference may occur only as provided for at 36 CFR 218.8(b).
For additional information about this proposed decision or the Forest Service objection process, contact Olympic National Forest Environmental Coordinator Greg Wahl (Phone: 360-956-2375. Email: email@example.com. Address: 1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW, Olympia, WA 98512.)
DEAN R MILLETT
NEWS RELEASE NOVEMBER 30, 2016
Navy’s Plan to Increase ‘Growler’ Operations
Draws Criticism, Promise of Legal Challenge
The Navy’s recently announced plans to increase ‘Growler’ jet training over Whidbey Island has drawn fire from one citizen organization, led to the formation of another, and prompted the Town of Coupeville to hire their own noise experts to scrutinize the Navy’s plan.
The Navy plans were outlined in a required Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that is supposed to have studied the potential impacts of its planned expansion and identified alternatives for public consideration and comment. The Navy did not begin its self-conducted environmental study until after Growler operations began.
“The Navy’s actions violate our democratic principles and harm the very people the Navy is sworn to protect,” said Ken Pickard, President of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve. COER has been at the forefront of efforts to halt Navy Growler operations that have become a source of complaints from communities throughout the Puget Sound. Growler noise impacts in Central Whidbey have already created what one health expert labeled a “public health emergency.”
The Navy’s “Preferred” alternative for expanding Growler Operations would:
• Increase low-level training operations at its Outlying Field (OLF) near Coupeville from 6,250 operations a year to 35,100 - almost a 600% increase.
• Increase noise footprints and expose up to 3,446 children to greater than 65 dB DNL– which research shows to cause decreases in learning, reading, comprehension, cognitive abilities with a host of other adverse health and behavioral impacts. The noise can interrupt classroom learning up to 45 times per hour. (Navy DEIS.)
• Increase Growler operations from North Whidbey Island and noise impacts over Port Townsend, Anacortes and San Juan Islands – including Lopez Island where more than 5000 complaints were registered on a Growler noise ‘hot-line.’
• Increase impacts on Deception Pass State Park, where Growler noise drives away visitors at a loss of $1000 a day in park fees alone. (Seattle Times)
All of the Navy’s ‘alternative’ scenarios will increase noise, health harms and other adverse impacts. The Navy’s “no action alternative” would continue Growler operations that currently expose people in homes, schools, parks and businesses to noise that exceeds community standards set by the State of Washington, the EPA, the Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA), and the World Health Organization.
“Asking citizens to choose from the Navy’s list of alternatives is like asking us which club we want to be beaten with,” said COER member Bob Wilbur. “The Navy's desired number of flyovers will force homeowners to sell their unlivable properties at huge losses.”
According to COER, the Navy’s Environmental Study is flawed by design, in part, because the Navy did not take a single real-time measurement of noise experienced by communities. Instead, the Navy used unreliable computer modeling that averaged periods of noisy over-flights with days of silence when jets did not fly. National noise experts say this is an invalid misuse of the noise metric.
The National Park Service recently completed a sound study of Growler noise impacts over Ebey's Landing Historic Reserve and concluded that Growler noise is a problem requiring serious attention.
Because of Navy Growlers, the once peaceful Reserve is now the loudest National Park in the Nation.
The Navy will issue a final Environmental Impact Statement and decision after it ‘considers’ public comments on the Draft EIS. The National Environmental Policy Act only requires the Navy to seriously study potential harms and alternatives. However, the Navy can still choose the most harmful action alternative.
COER is urging the public to reject all of the Navy’s proposals and has vowed to continue its political and legal efforts to oppose Growler operations over populated and environmentally sensitive areas.
P.O. Box 202, Coupeville, WA 98239
NAVY OPEN HOUSE PUBLIC MEETINGS
Monday, December 5
3 PM - 6 PM
Fort Worden State Park
Conference Center USO Hall
200 Battery Way
Port Townsend, WA
Tuesday, December 6
4 PM - 7 PM
Oak Harbor Elks Lodge
155 NE Ernst Street
Oak Harbor, WA
Wednesday, December 7
3 PM - 6 PM
Lopez Center for Community
and the Arts
204 Village Road
Lopez Island, WA
Thursday, December 8
3 PM - 6 PM
Seafarers' Memorial Park Building
601 Seafarers' Way
Friday, December 9
Coupeville High School Commons
4 PM - 7 PM
501 South Main Street