Category Archive: Federal Lands

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Did the U.S. Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests?


The West Coast Action Alliance, along with OFCO, has substantiated, through public records, just how much the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules have been violated by this military agency. Requesting accountability from our government is not unpatriotic—on the contrary, it displays the concern we all have in making sure that our military is not criticized unfairly, while at the same time ascertaining that no public agency holds itself above the law.

This week I received a very expensive looking packet from the U.S. Navy with a cover letter detailing how the complaints of the citizens are “myth.”

The recently published article by Dahr Jamal, of, accurately describes how our military is not adhering to environmental laws/requirements—the same laws that the rest of us have to follow.

Please read Dahr Jamal’s article and decide for yourself.

Connie Gallant

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Joint Memorandum from West Coast Action Alliance and Olympic Forest Coalition Sent to U.S. Navy

This week we sent a formal memorandum, along with a letter from UNESCO, to the U.S. Navy senior command and to federal, state and local elected officials in Northern California, Oregon and Washington, and to other interested parties, about the U.S. Navy’s current course of action in issuing a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Northwest Testing and Training, in an unlawful manner. The area covered in this Final EIS extends from Northern California to Alaska, a huge area of concern.

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U.S. Army Extends Comment Period to Nov. 3

[Please click here for background info.]


The Aviation Division within the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) proposes to establish three off-base helicopter training areas and one mountain training area. The U.S. Army is the lead Federal agency for the proposed action. The proposed training areas would support training operations stationed out of JBLM, but would be located off-base within Washington state.

The Army has prepared a scoping document which is intended to provide interested parties the proposed scope of the Environmental Assessment and to seek additional information pertinent to this analysis. If you have any information that would assist us in conducting an accurate and thorough analysis of the project-specific and cumulative effects associated with the proposed project, you are encouraged to submit them during the scoping period, which has been extended through November 3, 2015. The scoping document including project maps, and a comment form are located at:

To submit comments, send an email to

or write to:

2012 LIGGETT AVE, BOX 339500 MS 17


If you comment via email, we would appreciate it if you would include a “cc” or “bcc” to OFCO. Thank you!

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No Helicopters in the Wilderness

blackhawk_wildernessby The Herald Editorial Board
Published: Sunday, August 9, 2015, 12:01 a.m.
(reprinted with permission)

Our national forests have long been managed for multiple uses. Congress made the customary practice official in 1960 and specified that national forests would be administered for their renewable resources of timber, rangeland and water as well as for recreation opportunities and wildlife preservation.

We’re struggling to see where “military training” fits in among those uses.

Following the U.S. Navy’s proposal to conduct electronic warfare training for crews of EA-18G Growler jets based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in parts of the Olympic National Forest and on state Department of Natural Resources land, the U.S. Army is now proposing the use of areas within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, at least one of those on the boundary of a wilderness area, for the training of helicopter crews from Joint Base Lewis McChord.

The Army is seeking to establish seven mountain training areas on the eastern edge of the North Cascades National Forest, in a larger area that stretches from near Leavenworth north to the Canadian border. The training area would allow, the Army told the Seattle Times, up to 75 practice landings a month at seven landing training areas throughout the year. The aircraft involved include the massive twin-rotor Chinook, and the smaller Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.

A coalition of 20 environmental and recreational groups, including area Audubon Society chapters, The Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association, in their comment to the Army on its proposal, recognizes the need for the military to provide training, but faults the Army’s proposal in several respects:

Other than a standard no-action option, there are no other alternatives proposed than the seven mountain training areas listed.

One of the training zones appears to sit on the boundary or within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, west of Leavenworth. Three of the six landing zones are near other wilderness areas, including the Pasayten, Lake Chelan, Glacier Peak and Henry M. Jackson wildernesses. Wilderness areas, under the federal act that created them in 1964, are specifically off limits to motorized vehicles and the landing of aircraft.

Each of the seven training areas would be located directly on heavily used trails, including the internationally revered Pacific Crest Trail, within the national forest, with several located as close as a mile to trailside campgrounds. One landing site is less than 10 miles from the North Cascades National Park.

Wisely, the Army has extended the public comment period for its environmental assessment of its proposal until Sept. 4. Comments can be emailed to

At the very least, the Army will need to cross off its list the one landing zone within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and it should also search out other more suitable sites that don’t conflict with the quiet enjoyment of trails and campgrounds. As well, those landing zones can’t be allowed to adversely affect wildlife habitat areas.

These lands were set aside to benefit all, but when a proposal, especially a use not originally intended, threatens one or more historic uses, namely recreation and wildlife, the answer ought to be no.

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Olympic Peninsula Under Attack?

Department of Defense Targeting Our OP As Militarized Zone

photo by Connie Gallant

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.

Jet 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 Helicopternational 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, and to OFCO at

Thank you for taking action! Remember, comments are due by Thursday, July 30!

Connie Gallant, OFCO Board President