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Olympic National Forest: Military Training Ground or People’s Forest–Can it be Both? by Robbie Roberts

by on December 7, 2014

A combination of a local environmental issue and a legal mess, Olympic National Forest: Military Training Ground or People’s Forest–Can it be Both?, describes the desires of the Navy to engage in electronic warfare simulation in a National Park and beautiful forested area.

Under federal law the Navy, which is hoping to use the land the Forest Service  is all-to-eager to give  to the Navy, is required to notify the public and allow  a period of time for comment.  Nonetheless, “no announcements were published in Clallam and Jefferson Counties to inform the communities beneath the flight path and adjacent to the Olympic National Forest. Then, someone eyeballed a USFS notice describing the Navy’s proposal–tacked to a wall in the Forks’ post office. Then, all hell broke loose.”

Yes, that would be the Forks of Twilight fame, a city which has seen tourism (and revenue) increase drastically in the last few years.

The comment period was extended due to renewed interest.

The Navy is also required under federal law to issue an Environmental Assessment of any project that might impact the environment.  A veteran of the Navy says the “EA is sorely lacking new science regarding possible adverse effects on the environment–this is the noisiest, most polluting aircraft in their inventory. The noise alone at low altitudes would be devastating to wildlife. These are electromagnetic war games on steroids above the Northwest’s most pristine wilderness,” he said.  ‘Here’s what they won’t tell you: ‘all of this can be done on simulators, and for much less money and without all the environmental damage that will be done.’ I suggest: use a simulator!'”

Aircraft noise is not mentioned in the Navy’s EA.

The public has been intentionally deceived on this project by both the USFS and the Navy.  There are questions of the legality of the Navy’s action, which is supported (an understatement) by the Forest Service.  The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics thinks that “the warfare training is an illegal use of national forest land,” according to the Port O Call article.

At a forum on the issue, a person said ‘I guess we need to decide if we want our national park or we want another military training ground. Don’t they have enough? Do they really need this, too?’

 

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