Department of Defense Targeting Our OP As Militarized Zone
photo by Connie Gallant
Imagine you are basking in the beauty of our Olympic National Park and wilderness. After going for a long walk around stunning Lake Crescent, you find a quiet spot, break out your lunch, and sit at the shore of the lake, with deep-blue water nearly lapping your feet, to enjoy that delicious sandwich and hot coffee you bought from a local store before getting to the lake. As you sit there loving every single moment, you see deer roaming by leisurely with not a care in the world. There are birds on the lake frolicking and fishing and you laugh at their antics. The wind is up and the cool breeze soothes your face. When you are done eating, you feel great—and sleepy. You feel very fortunate to be in such a magnificent and quiet place on Earth, in one of our priceless national treasures. How can life get any better?
This is one of the many reasons why you chose to be on the Olympic Peninsula and in its wilderness—because it is one of the few places left on Earth where such solitude can be found, even with small towns nearby. You lie down on the grass and let your thoughts wander until you feel that sweet sensation of sleep overcoming those thoughts. “This is the life,” you think.
Then, suddenly, your quiet world erupts with a rumble so loud that your ears hurt and your entire body startles. You look up and around, and what do you see? A trio of Navy Growler jets zooming at full speed with afterburners churning on. “I can’t believe this; what is going on?” you exclaim.
Well, what is going on is that the Olympic Peninsula is being pushed and promoted by the Department of Defense to become a militarized zone.
Our quiet Olympic Peninsula is being “invaded” by two branches of the military wanting to use our national forests and wildernesses for war games and combat training. The U.S. Navy is proposing to designate the western half of the Olympic Peninsula and surrounding waters as an Electronic Warfare Range, and the U.S. Army is claiming large swaths of southwest Washington and the North Cascades for Black Hawk helicopter and manpower landing exercises. The Navy wants to fly as many as 153 Growler jets in trios over our communities, national forests and park lands for 8-16 hours per day, 260 days per year, for a series of mock battle exercises to recognize/disable the signals sent by electromagnetic emitter trucks being driven on forest and public roads. The Army wants these areas 24 hours a day, every day of the year except federal holidays.
OFCO has been battling for the protection of the endangered Marbled Murrelet and the Northern Spotted Owl for years. Their habitat is being chipped away, first through logging of older forests on private, federal and state lands (state lands are managed by the Department of Natural Resources) and second, by noise and pollution from combat aircraft. Both species of these birds are declining rapidly, and cannot survive such onslaught.
Please, if you care about what happens to our precious Olympic Peninsula, join us in this new battle. We can win if we join our voices together. You also need to be the voice that speaks for wilderness. Without you, there’s less chance for its survival.
Take a moment to write to the U.S. Army and the Olympic National Forest (the permitting agency) to let them know that you want our Olympic Peninsula wilderness to remain untrammeled and available only to the American people—not to the Department of Defense. Most of us appreciate the fact that our military branches need to be well trained—that is not the issue here. However, training on areas that all of us—military and civilians alike—are supposed to be protecting for present and future generations and for the sustainability of our environment is not an option.
Please join us by submitting your comments on the Army’s proposal by Thursday, July 30, 2015. The Army’s scoping notice can be found here:
Army Scoping Notice
Comments can be submitted via email:
Email Your Comments
Or go to the Army’s website to obtain:
PDF Public Comment Form to Mail
Hard copy comments can be mailed to:
Department of the Army
Directorate of Public Works
ATTN Environmental Division (NEPA)
2012 Liggett Ave, Box 339500 MS 17
Joint Base Lewis-McChord WA 98433-9500
Please send a copy of your comments to the Olympic National Forest, Gregory T. Wahl at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to OFCO at email@example.com.
Thank you for taking action! Remember, comments are due by Thursday, July 30!
Connie Gallant, OFCO Board President