SEQUIM, Wash. – Residents of Whidbey Island and the Olympic Peninsula are mobilizing against the U.S. Navy’s plan to turn this peaceful region into an Electronic Warfare Range (EWR) with deafening, low-level overflights by squadrons of Growler jets.
The jets, stationed at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, will take off and fly west over the Olympic Peninsula and engage in target practice over National Forest Service lands in the west end of Clallam County. The Navy plans to schedule these flights as long as 16 hours daily, 260 days annually. The will fly as low as 1,200 feet altitude.
Outrage has been stirred by disclosure that the Navy plans to invade the airspace above the Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, home to wildlife that will be put at risk by the Navy’s war preparations.
Also in the flight path of the jets will be the reservations of Pacific Northwest Indian tribes—the Quileute’s mile-square reservation at Lapush, the Hoh Reservation and the Quinalt Indian Reservation.
A grassroots organization, Save the Olympic Peninsula, charges in a fact sheet, “Growlers are the noisiest jets ever made, up to 113 decibels at 1000 feet. Exposure to that noise, even for a short duration, can permanently damage human hearing. Children’s ears are especially vulnerable.”
The Navy has requested permission from the U.S. Forest Service to place radar-emitting trucks on Forest Service roads beaming electromagnetic signals to the squadrons of warplanes. The pilots will train to home in on these targets and knock them out with highly focused electronic beams. Defenders of wildlife charge that the noise and the electronic radiation pose a dire threat to animals and plants that now thrive in the wilderness regions of the Peninsula. Already, the Navy’s submarine sonar is blamed for threatening whales and other marine mammals.
“A Huge Environmental Mistake Coming to the Peninsula” is the main headline in the spring edition of Voice of the Wild Olympics, the newsletter of the Olympic Park Associates (OPA). OPA President, Donna Osseward, writes, “The Olympics urgently need your help. We need to convince our Congressional representatives, Forest Service administrators, and the Navy, that the Navy’s shocking plan to create a Permanent Electromagnetic Warfare Training Range on the Olympic Peninsula is ill-advised.”
An urgent petition to the Forest Service has been started: Don’t Turn the Olympic Peninsula into a War Zone! Block the Navy’s Jets!
Photo: The Petition Site