US Forest Service finds “No Significance” in the Navy expanding war games next to Olympic National Park

In an expected ruling, the Forest Service rubber stamped the Navy’s plans to expand their war games using electronic warfare using high speed unmuffled jets right next to one of the quietest places on earth, the Hoh Rain Forest. In a ruling that can only be called cynical political point-making with the incoming Trump Administration, Dean Millet, the District Ranger in charge of the ruling, ignored tens of thousands of signatures on petitions and thousands of letters of concern, many of them from scientists, political figures and people with a stake in the economy of the Peninsula. He claims to have, “carefully considered public input” in making the decision, but that he found nothing at all to criticize in the Navy’s plans, means that he really didn’t try.

Now, we turn to the courts, and to the elected officials, like Derek Kilmer, who has done very little to stop this, somewhat understandably given the population of military retirees and Bremerton Navy jobs at stake in Kitsap County.

We hope that Representative Kilmer brings his earplugs with him when he and his family go hiking in the Olympic National Park next year, he’ll likely need them. Jets which are supposed to be flying at over 6000ft have been seen and recorded on numerous occasions  by many different eyewitnesses flying at less than 1000, despite the assurances of the Navy. In a video shot at a public hearing out on the coast a couple of years ago the head trainer from Whidbey admitted as much, saying that he had to discipline his cadets  sometimes for flying too low. But other than this one man, there is no real oversight to keep them above 6000′. We don’t have public records to look at even on something as non-essential to security as this.

Is that what a National Park is supposed to represent? Do we want to turn all our places of solitude from the stresses of our industrialized world into low level fly over training sites by unmuffled jets?  What exactly is something that the Forest Service considers a “significant finding?”  I just have no idea of what Ranger Millet’s threshold is. Should we take recordings of jets and go to his house, Representative Kilmer’s house, Senator Murray and Cantwell’s house at night and play them at full volume? Would that help understand the ask? And at what point do we have “enough” training spots in the US that we don’t need more? And who ultimately should decide that? Us, the military or a combination of the taxpayers and those in our employ. Why did the 1988 MOU between the Department of the Military and the FS not come into play?  That document seems pretty clear. Very short and to the point. Less than one page of law.

These are just questions that we would love answers from the people in power, some of whom we elected as recently as this November. It seems clear from this ruling that the Forest Service is not acting in our best interests. Since the Spanish American war we have set about turning the Puget Sound and Strait into a militarized zone. And now we seem to be at a point where our military does what it wants, regardless of what us, the taxpayers, want of it. This is truly the tail wagging the dog.

Also from Ashley Ahearn

Navy Granted Permits For More Growler Jet Training On Olympic Peninsula
The Navy has just been granted permits by the U.S. Forest Service to expand electromagnetic warfare training over Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Now the Navy is cleared to drive trucks out into the Olympic National Forest, armed with electromagnetic signaling technology. Then growler jets will take off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and fly overhead, searching for the signal trucks from the air. It’s essentially a military training game of hide-and-go-seek. The trucks simulate cell towers and other communications behind enemy lines that the Navy wants to scramble. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)