Navy Jets: Coming Soon to the Olympic Wilderness. Seriously.

The Olympic Peninsula is isolated, far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Made up of six wilderness areas, including Olympic National Park, this remote peninsula in Washington State is the scene of millions of vacations each year. Olympic is the 6th most visited National Park in America, with 3 million+ visitors coming from around the world to see the rainforests, mountains, rivers, lakes and beaches of the nearly one million acre park. Highlighted by solitude, ancient forests and stunning displays of nature, the Olympic Peninsula is one of the last places in the world to experience a true timeless wonderland. Surrounding the park is wilderness and National Forest Service land, full of wildlife, amazing hiking and camping, and quite possibly soon, the sound of Navy jets screaming overhead. 

As I have reported over the last 11 months, (here and here) the United States Navy is hoping to conduct military training exercises in and around the wilderness surrounding around Olympic National Park. Despite hundreds attending meetings locally and expressing their anger over such a plan, the US Forest Service is still debating whether or not to allow the Navy to use the air and land for they warfare training. According to an article from Truth-out.org, if the Navy gets their way,

The Navy would be flying Growler jets, which are electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming, in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day.

For me, this issue is personal. I was born here, grew up here, moved away from and later returned to the Pacific Northwest. As a kid, teen and young adult, I would spend countless hours in the wilderness around the Olympic Peninsula, enjoying the solitude and quite peace of wilderness. Sadly, over the nine months, half a dozen hikes to remote locations have been interrupted by military aircraft flying ridiculously low over protected areas. Often, they are directly over Olympic National Park land, and more often than not, over wilderness areas.

The first time it happened to me this year, I was out on the beaches of Ozette in Olympic National Park when I heard a rumbling. For three or so minutes, I scanned the skies, looking for an aircraft. As the noise got louder and louder, I finally spotted a single military jet breaking through the clouds no more than a thousand feet above me. As the noise reached a defining roar, every bald eagle that had been perched on the trees near me flew away, not returning until the sun almost set. The noise from the jet last almost 10 full minutes until all that could be heard was the waves and the wind.

The last time it happened to me, I was standing atop Maiden Peak near Deer Park in Olympic National Park. Again, a distant rumbling, lasting about thee minutes, was heard overhead. As the roar once again nearly shook the ground I was standing on, I saw a military jet screaming by me, maybe only 750 feet above my position. This time, I snapped a picture with my camera with no zoom:

A jet from Whidbey Island, flying over Olympic National Park.
A jet from Whidbey Island, flying over Olympic National Park, breaking the silence of the wilderness. No zoom was used.

Events like this are becoming common in our public lands, mainly because people do not fight for their rights against the military. Those who do speak up are told we are unAmerican, unPatriotic and tree hugging hippies. We are told we need to support America and that our troops need to practice. We are told animals don’t care about noise pollution and that they don’t respond negatively. Despite studies showing that bears get elevated heart rates just from the sound of something small, like a drone,  Navy officials continue to claim that there are no side-effects of their proposed warfare training. There are better places to do this, yet the military is insisting to do it over our protected lands. I for one am against any military activity over or close to protected lands, and it looks like I am not alone.

So far, over 98,000 people have spoken out against the military maneuvers being conducted over the region, and the decision on whether or not the Navy will conduct these war games is expected to be announced at the end of the month. To get your voice heard now, sign the petition and tell the US Forest Service to listen to the will of the people, not the military industrial complex.

The petition will be delivered in person to the Olympic National Forest Services offices in Olympia on Wednesday, September, 23 at 3:30PM. Supporters are encouraged to show up for a rally at 3:15 in the parking lot. I’ll be there. Will you?

SIGN THE PETITION: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/888/458/402/

 

Read the Full Press Release from Protect Olympic Peninsula

The Executive Director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics told citizens that letters to Mr. Bonnie may be the best shot we have to defeat the plan of the Navy’s to turn the Olympic Peninsula into an Electronic Warfare Range. We only have a few weeks left before the Forest Service makes its “decision”.
The letters don’t have to be long…but we need a lot of them! Can you spread this Alert through your own network, and perhaps share it with the younger generation who are so adept at social media? Know any groups who would post it on their Facebook page?

ACTION ALERT: SAVE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Please help save beautiful Olympic National Park from becoming a Warfare training Range! We have only a few weeks before the decision is made. YOUR voice is needed!

See how you can help:
http://protectolympicpeninsula.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/STOP-ALERT.pdf
It has been recommended that the letters to Mr. Bonnie also be cc’d to our representatives. Thank you for caring and taking action.

Derek Kilmer’s exec secretary’s email address:
judith.morris@mail.house.gov
Senator Maria Cantwell: http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-maria
Senator Patty Murray: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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