Documents from the following federal agencies are posted here: The Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, EPA, Congressional Research Service, and some joint federal agency reports.
Department of Agriculture – US Forest Service
March 5, 2015 NOTE: Results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request (Here is the original FOIA request.) The Forest Service has been allowing the Navy to use its roads for electromagnetic warfare testing and training since 2010, and the Navy has not been limiting itself to roads in the Olympic National Forest but is also using public roads in populated civilian areas.
Letter from Forest Service responding to request for information about a temporary special use permit issued sometime in 2011, to the Navy, to use roads in the Olympic National Forest. According to this letter, FOUR temporary permits have been issued to the Navy for mobile emitters in Olympic National Forest, between 2010 and 2014. Though the writer of this letter asked many more questions, the Forest Service did not answer them. Here is the citizen letter that prompted the Forest Service’s reply.
As a result of a recent Freedom of Information Act request, here is a 2012 email from the Navy to the Forest Service containing the following statement: “Mobile emitters will be transported all through most of the region as well as outside the geographic confines of the MOAs [Military Operating Areas in the Olympic National Forest] to optimize and vary training scenarios (dependent on road and area availability).” This begs the question: Where else will electromagnetic warfare training occur? This Temporary Special Use Permit from 2013 indicates on the map on page 5 that public roads on the North and West Olympic Peninsula may also be used. These are populated areas. Does the Navy have a permit from the State Department of Transportation for this? [UPDATE March 2, 2015: The Washington DOT responded, “A very diligent search was conducted and there does not appear to have been any permits issued, or any changes or modifications done to the highway system regarding the training referenced in your public disclosure request.”]
These Special Use Permits are here: 2010, 2011 and 2012. 2013. Navy’s application for 2010 and 2011 permits. Navy’s maps for 2011 permit showing changes and a photo of the mobile emitter at a campground. Navy’s 2014 application. Navy’s maps for 2014 application showing changes and mobile emitter at a campground. A brochure on the different types of mobile emitters.
The public has not been told about the Navy’s intent to drive mobile emitters throughout the region conducting electronic warfare testing and training in populated areas.
The email also says the mobile emitters will be available to ships for War-At-Sea training: “These sites allow for training in: close-air support, modified escort profiles, general EW tactical proficiency, and War-at-Sea training. Outside of the benefits provided to the Electronic Attack community, placement of EW emitters on the Olympic peninsula has the potential to provide EW training to the US Naval surface community as well.” NOTE: Neither of these two statements were discussed in the Navy’s Environmental Assessment. That 2012 email from the Navy to the Forest Service also contained this enclosure detailing the Navy’s process up to that date.
Notes from an internal conference call, January 2013.
Forest Service employees saw problems early on with the Navy’s proposed activities. A Forest Service “comment matrix” received via a Freedom of Information Act request contains 26 comments, all from Forest Service employees. Here are three examples:
1. “Effects analysis for other wildlife species outside of ESA-listed is vague and nearly non-existent especially with electromagnetic analysis.”
2. “Site 2 on Mt. Hull [Roosevelt-Okanogan Military Operating area near Canadian border] may be somewhat sensitive to local populations since some think there already is a hidden military based under Summit Lake where Blackhawk helicopters fly out of.” Navy answer: “Understood. Please note that Blackhawk helicopters are not Navy platforms. Believe these are boarder Patrol and Anti-Drug assets. Our activities only involve the use of established roads and pull-outs by vehicles.”
3. “Based on your scoping, if done, I do not see any list of the issues raised by the public or internally about this project. This is something that the Forest Service would normally incorporate in Chapter 1.” Navy answer: “The Navy is in compliance with 5090.1D and does not require public scoping for an EA.”
2014 – Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for Pacific Northwest Electronic Warfare Range. NOTE: This was later cancelled when the District Ranger extended the comment period; thus, a new Draft Decision Notice should be issued, with a comment period. Also note that in this Draft Decision Notice, references are made to pages that do not exist; there is, for example, no page 29 or page 50.
2010 – Navy requests first of four Temporary Special Use Permits (SUP) from Forest Service (2010 through 2012; 2013; maps for 2014 permit) to run one Mobile Emitter for testing feasibility of ground-based EW program. Permits granted each year from 2010-2014, inclusive, but public is largely unaware of it. Permits show public roads in its map of areas used by Navy for training.
1990 – Most recent Forest Management Plan for Olympic National Forest finalized.
Department of the Interior – US Fish and Wildlife Service
2015 – Letter from the Navy to the US Fish and Wildlife Service requesting re-opening of consultation on endangered species. (Public comments had a lot to do with this.)
2014 – Letter from the Navy to the US Fish and Wildlife Service telling them no need to reopen consultation on endangered species.
1988 – Effects of aircraft noise and sonic booms on fish and wildlife (Survey of USFWS facilities)
Department of the Interior – National Park Service
Park Service Director’s Order: SOUNDSCAPE PRESERVATION AND NOISE MANAGEMENT An overwhelming number of visitors to National Parks (91 percent) go there to listen to natural sounds inherent to a place.
1987 – Report to Congress on Effects of Aircraft Overflights on the National Park System “The concept of natural quiet and its importance as a resource is embodied in the 1916 NPS Organic Act, as amended.1 For Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP), Congress embedded the concept into two major public laws. It is also stated quite explicitly in NPS policy. Natural quiet is also very important to park managers and to a majority of park visitors.”
Department of Commerce – NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service
2016 – DOCUMENT CONTAINING PROPOSED CHANGES TO: NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION DRAFT GUIDANCE FOR ASSESSING THE EFFECTS OF ANTHROPOGENIC SOUND ON MARINE MAMMAL HEARING – UNDERWATER ACOUSTIC THRESHOLD LEVELS FOR ONSET OF PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY THRESHOLD SHIFTS Significance: Controversial, see this news article from the Kitsap Sun.
2015 – NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service Biological Opinion on Navy Northwest Training and Testing EIS
2012 – October 16 – NMFS issues Letter of Authorization to Navy for take of marine mammals in Northwest Testing and Training Range. Permit good from November 2012 through November 2015. Level B Harassment allows for take of 129,599 marine mammals per year and allows take to exceed limits by 10 to 25%, depending on species.
2010 – November 11 – Biological Opinion issued by NMFS for NWTRC, good for June 2010 through June 2015. Navy estimates 650,000 marine mammal takes in 5 years.
Environmental Protection Agency
1978 – Noise: A Health Problem
Government Accountability Office
2005 – “Military Training: Better Planning and Funding Priority Needed to Improve Conditions of Military Training Ranges.” GAO’s visits to eight training ranges, along with DOD’s own assessments show that ranges are deteriorating and lack modernization. Of all branches of the Armed Services the Navy has done the poorest job of implementing management actions for improvement; a report on range utilization is more than a decade overdue. Therefore, inefficiencies in management of existing ranges are likely contributing to the current encroachment by the Navy on public and private lands.
Congressional Research Service
Joint Federal Agency Reports