Navy holds Public Meeting for “noisy” Draft EIS. Public holds silent protest

The U.S. Navy began the first of five public meetings at Port Townsend today, in order to roll out their new “draft” Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to expand the use of the Whidbey Island Airbase. The airbase is primarily used for carrier and expeditionary (land based wings) training of cadets. A group of approximately 40 protesters sat in a silent protest during the event. While police looked on, no arrests were made nor was their anything other than a peaceful sit down protest.

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The Navy is no longer asking for any lowering of cadet training, and in fact is looking to expand by 35 or 36 aircraft. Personnel increases range in the proposals from 371 to 664, with an expected expansion of dependents (family) of 509 to 710). They are planning to increase operations/year from 88,000 to 130,000 an increase of 33%. One thing to understand that was explained to me by Ted Brown, the Installations and Public Affairs Officer for the Navy, is that these operations actually need to be divided by 2 to more clearly understand them. A jet taking over and do a touch and go is engaging in a minimum of 2 operations. However, this increase in the levels takes us from a low range where we have been since approx 1996 to a much higher level, more closely aligned to the levels leading up to the first Gulf War (1976-1988).

The more problematic issue of all this is that the Navy will be impacting many more people with noise levels at or above 65dB. To put this in perspective, 65dB is considered “normal” level of talking to someone at 3′. However, we are talking about jet aircraft noise and not human voices. Hearing loss can occur at sustained levels above 85dB. A navy aircraft sound print lasts approx. 30 seconds usually peaking at 93.5 dBs and sustained above 80 for most of that 30 seconds.  In the summer, I routinely am roused out of sleep after 12 midnight by jets taking off and landing 16. 2 nautical miles away from my house. That qualifies for what the navy calls sleep disturbance but it does not track that from my distance, so any of us affected by this are not included in their calculations.

The Navy assumes that in our area of Port Townsend, we can expect noise levels capable of affecting speech comprehension inside an additional 4 times an hour. Outdoor events would increase up to an additional 3 events per hour. 

Events  that the Navy expects to be so loud as to disturb indoor classroom activity is expect to increase by 2 events per hour. 

Sleep disturbance events between 10PM and 7AM are expected to increase up to 48% in some locations.

It is also worth noting that the Navy primarily flies these during times when the aircraft carriers are in port. They have a window of opportunity and the pilots also need to achieve night flight status. This means that with darkness falling later and later, they end up spilling into the later evening. So expect more noise late in the summer, and with more planes, it will only get worse.

There is a hope on the horizon, much longer out, in that the touch and goes are now in the early phases of having a onboard computer fly the plane with greatly increased safety, and less wear and tear on the plane and flight deck. At some point, we may see a dramatic decrease in touch and goes, as computers take over that function, decreasing training on it. Newer F-35s have the ability installed but older ones do not. The software is not yet operational though, being in testing now.

What can be done about the intrusion into our peaceful surroundings? There is a no action alternativethat the Navy isn’t seriously considering, but should be proposed in writing by anyone concerned about this growth. However, don’t expect the Navy to choose this. If you are planning to contact any of our Congressmen or Senators, you might as well push for it. That’s the only way you will protect yourself and your family from increased unmuffled jet noise.

 

 

 

 

Navy to expand sonar, other training off Northwest coast – AP

Despite our best efforts…the military continues to turn our area into a training ground. Expanded sonar testing. Expanded jet flights. Increasing base forces. They get the National Marine Fisheries Service to buy into their assumptions on ‘no net loss’. They expand an antiquated air field  that should be shut down and moved to a more remote area. They conduct sonar tests in the same waters as our last remaining Orcas. Folks, they will never really work to protect our environment. Now we get a Federal Government that will give them carte blanche to continue to expand. And where is Representative Derek Kilmer, Senator Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in all this? Silent.

The U.S. Navy has finalized a plan to expand sonar testing and other warfare training off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The Navy decided to implement its preferred plan after a lengthy review that included a determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service that the exercises would not have major impacts on endangered orcas and other marine mammals. It announced its decision on Nov. 4. The fisheries service last year renewed the Navy’s five-year permit, through 2020, to conduct the activities in areas from the inland waters of Puget Sound in Washington state to the northern coast of California. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.thenewstribune.com/latest-news/article114532458.html

Navy, Noise and Sealife – News & Event

From the people at The West Coast Action Alliance and the Olympic Forest Coalition
http://westcoastactionalliance.org and http://olympicforest.org

Noise in the sea is killing and injuring wildlife. The numbers are shocking. The online news organization Truthout published their top story this morning, on the excessively high numbers of marine mammals the US Navy is allowed to “take” as a result of exploding mines and bombs and using sonar in sensitive habitats during testing and training exercises. Truthout senior investigative reporter Dahr Jamail researched and wrote it after noticing this post from the West Coast Action Alliance:

Coincidentally, the New York Times wrote last week that Navy sonar “cannot be ruled out as cause of death” for dolphins in Southern California.

Which brings us to this: 23 organizations are sponsoring a showing of the movie “Sonic Sea” on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 PM at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (QUUF) in Port Townsend, Washington, 2333 San Juan Avenue. The eye-opening film reveals how noise from Navy sonar, drilling operations and everyday vessel traffic adversely impacts whales and other sea life. (Watch trailer here.)  A donation of $10 is suggested at the door.

Two world renowned experts and cast members will be at the screening – Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research and Michael Jasny of the National Resources Defense Council. They will speak and, after the film, lead a Q&A session. (Press release here.)  If you are not in the area, check this site for more screenings, or to host one in your area. To learn more, download theOcean Noise Report.

On all fronts: Army and Navy forge ahead with training plans for Northwest forests despite loud opposition – Tacoma News Tribune

Finally, a major news outlet on the “east” side of the Sound discusses, in depth, what has been happening out here over the last year. Our friends in the environmental movement in Seattle have rebuked all efforts to get them involved in any way, stating that the coal and Bakka Crude train issue is all they can handle. Luckily, there are a number of dedicated people, like Karen Sullivan quoted in the article, that have worked to keep this a front burner issue.

To be clear, jet training noise in Port Townsend, which is 16 nautical miles from the airbase, is loud enough at midnight to wake people up inside houses with windows closed. That would be the equivalent of Green Lake hearing the jets from Sea Tac at midnight. The Seattle-ites that love to come over here and use the Olympic National Forest might want to help before the expected peace and quite of the wilderness is overrun by troop training exercises. It will be too late then, folks. They are asking for over 260 days a year to use these locales, and never admit that or state it in public meetings. Just read the documents to find the truth of their demands.

Special Operations units and an Air Force survival school already use Northwest forests New plans might lead to more noticeable training on Olympic Peninsula, North Cascades. Environmental reviews draw thousands of letters from opponents


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/military/article59954826.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/military/article59954826.html

Navy appears to be using active sonar near Orcas – Beamreach

Beamreach has published sound patterns from the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network that appears to show active sonar blasts that could seriously impact Orcas and other marine mammals. The Navy has stated that it would avoid this kind of behavior, and we are awaiting word from them that they either mistakenly did this, or will stop it. To be clear, the intensity of these pings have scientists worried about injury to the whales.

With transient killer whales in the area and the whereabouts of J and L pods (and their many newborns!) unknown, we were concerned to hear that active sonar was utilized late in the morning on Wednesday, January 13, in Haro Strait — critical habitat for species in both Canada and the U.S.  At the same time, military training activities were planned or taking place on both sides of the border.  This is what is sounded like — – See more at: http://www.beamreach.org/2016/01/14/navy-starts-2016-pinging-in-the-pool#sthash.tUSgcTV7.dpuf

http://www.beamreach.org/2016/01/14/navy-starts-2016-pinging-in-the-pool

Navy special forces use state parks for training – PT Leader

News has now officially broke in the Port Townsend Leader that the Navy has been using using our public beaches, for night time war games training for Navy Seals and others. The issue here is very clear: This is all new expansion of Navy uses of public lands without consultation of the the public.  The total number of sites includes Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, Fort Casey, The Port Townsend Launch Ramp, Port Ludlow and Mystery Bay. 

Until very recently, I lived a short walk from Fort Worden. I am astonished that public officials from the Parks decided, in secret, to allow this kind of use. While the park is technically closed after dusk, many people stay in the park, in campers. It is certainly likely that some of them are armed, legally, and could be out taking a pee or walking a dog late at night. Coming across heavily armed landing parties is a recipe for disaster. As is the notion of a PR flack running up and yelling that it’s the military and it’s ok.

We are watching our way of life changing with a Navy presence that we never were allowed to question, or debate in public. Is this what we want? Random night landings by armed troops? Low flying high speed unmuffled jets roaring right along the border of a heavily used National Park, where people come to seek solitude and peace in nature? What are we becoming?

The environmental angle to all this is that none of this is covered by the Navy EIS, unless they are interpreting it different than written. Clarity is needed.

The Navy has millions of acres, all over the US, that have been traditionally used for training. I, and many like me, did not move here because we thought that this kind of training was happening. It wasn’t happening and they have decided to do it wihout debate. 

Can any of you imagine if this was happening all along Seattle beaches and parks? What kind of outcry their would be? They do this because they believe that they can get away with it. Thanks to Truthout for surfacing the original story, and to the Port Townsend Leader for finding out the existing storyline.

We can stop this behavior now. Call your elected officials.

Washington State Parks has issued a right of entry permit to the U.S. Navy that allows nighttime training exercises at five state parks, including Fort Flagler State Park and Mystery Bay State Park.

Brian Hageman, manager of Fort Worden Area Parks, told the Leader that the Navy has used Fort Townsend and Fort Flagler state parks and has at least once in recent years used Fort Worden.

http://www.ptleader.com/news/navy-special-forces-use-state-parks-for-training/article_5d1fe9da-b98c-11e5-ad99-ab04c3472ac0.html

U.S. Navy to Initiate Actions Without Completing Agency Consultations – WCAA

The Navy continues to show what seems to be an arrogance in it’s interpretations of the laws of the state and the country when it comes to providing proof of non-harm of the environment.  It is quite astounding that after all the thousands of comments that have been put forward by the people living in this area against the attempts of the Navy to co-op our air, land and waters for training exercises, when there are alternative locations available, that the Navy would choose to take this route. In the face of tribal cultural resources, environmental and historical areas of significance, etc., that the Navy would choose to put this current EIS document out, and that they are giving you, the people paying their salaries and who they defend, no public comment period, seems to be  both illegal and outrageous behavior. 

Keep the momentum up people. The legal system will be used,  and your calls to Derek Kilmer, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and locally our State Representatives and Senators is required to show that we are not going to let the Navy simply get it’s way because it puts out thousands of pages of erroneous information, on purpose. 


Port Townsend, WA, November 8, 2015 –  The West Coast Action Alliance and Olympic Forest Coalition received the astounding news that the Navy has unilaterally declared the consultation over, on effects of Navy activities on cultural and historic properties, with Washington’s State Historic Preservation Officer. In her immediate reply letter from the State, State Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Allyson Brooks strongly objected to the abrupt termination.

Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the Navy is required to consult with Washington’s Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

In their letter to Dr. Brooks, the Navy claimed that they have complied with the requirements as set forth in the statute and regulations.

However, Dr. Brooks’ office has made it abundantly clear, and reconfirmed this in her letter, that the process is far from complete.  Dr. Brooks strenuously objected to such abrupt termination of ongoing discussions.

As of October 2, the Navy produced a 3,400-page Final EIS on Northwest Training and Testing, with no public comment period and without completing formal endangered species and cultural/historic site consultations with the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the State of Washington. After granting itself a waiver via the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Donald Schregardus, the Navy is expected to sign a Record of Decision on Monday, November 9. This in effect gives the Navy permission to proceed with actions that require incidental take permits from federal wildlife agencies, and a determination from the State of Washington on potential harm to cultural and historic properties, without knowing what those impacts will be.

Contacts:

Dr. Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer: 360-586-3066

John Mosher, Northwest Environmental manager for the U.S. Pacific Fleet: 360-257-3234

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Environment (Donald Schregardus): 703-695-5270

Karen Sullivan is the spokesperson for the West Coast Action Alliance and Olympic Forest Coalition on this topic. More information at:  http://westcoastactionalliance.org

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