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Feb-02-2009 16:55printcomments

Navy Plans to Take Over Oregon Coast Airspace for Military Operations

The Navy needs to rethink and abandon large parts of this entire proposal. The potential effects of new and increased military activity off the coast of Oregon could result in a general degradation of the environment, be fatal to wildlife and detrimental to the human quality of life.

Some say Oregon's coastal airspace is already spoken for photo by Bonnie King

(DEPOE BAY, Ore.) - I went to the US Navy’s hearing last Friday night in Newport. What an "eye opener"!!!

I was told by one of the Navy’s representatives that the Navy wants to take over the two training areas currently used by the Oregon Air National Guard. This includes the entire coastal air space and coastal waters of Oregon.

The hearing was part of their “public outreach”; strangely only one hearing in the entire state of Oregon. I was told the Navy published a small notification of the hearing in a Lincoln County newspaper and no other newspaper in Oregon.

As evidenced from their public comments, most people learned of the hearing at most 2-3 days in advance. As a result, only about 40 people attended. Six people made public comments for the official record. There was no question and answer period. Few knew about the Navy’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement website:

PLEASE go to the National Resources Defense Council website to read about the mid-frequency sonar effect on whales and other marine mammals; it causes their eardrums to rupture and they die. The NRDC sued the Navy over this in California and got a partial victory. Of course, the Navy talked about all they will do to protect marine life; the NRDC partial court victory is making them do it!!! Not optional.

OSU Professor Bruce Mate told me at the hearing there isn’t a 12-mile offshore limit to the Navy’s proposal. In fact, one of the Navy personnel said that if they need to do shallow water training, their proposal allows them to do it.

Here’s the deal..... The Navy wants to take over the Oregon Air National Guard areas off the entire coast of Oregon in order to expand the Navy's training activities, including mine fields (YES, I said mine fields!!), predator drones, artillery shelling practice, submarine exercises including munitions and their associated debris. These are what I picked up from other speakers. Who knows what else is in the DEIS????

Included in the Navy's handout for their preferred proposal:

EA-18G Growler aircraft.... which flies at Mach 1.6, exceeding the "sound barrier". Will the coast be subjected to sonic booms if the Navy gets what they want?

Guided missile submarines

P-8 Multimission Maritime aircraft

Unmanned Aerial systems

Air and sea surface targets

Portable undersea tracking range for anti-submarine training

Use of mid-level and high frequency active sonar (, known to cause marine mammal deaths.

Please go to this website and read some of the documents in the Navy’s DEIS.... They are quite alarming.

I was so alarmed about the Navy’s proposals that I spoke at the hearing, saying I am calling Gov. Kulongoski’s, Sen. Ron Wyden’s and Sen. Jeff Merkley’s offices on Monday to ask their intervention with the Secretary of the Navy. I encourage others to do likewise. And encourage their friends and neighbors, too. All the contact information for our federal and state elected officials is at this website:

The Navy needs to rethink and abandon large parts of this entire proposal. The potential effects of new and increased military activity off the coast of Oregon could result in a general degradation of the environment, be fatal to wildlife and detrimental to the human quality of life. And contrary to the best interests of the tourism industry and coastal property values. We need to ensure our concerns are heard loud and clear before the Navy’s proposals become foregone conclusions.

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Patricia Porter February 18, 2009 12:00 pm (Pacific time)

I live in Port Townsend, Washington which is across the bay from Naval Magazine Indian Island. Port Townsend Bay is approx. 1 1/2 miles from the loading docks at Indian Island where Munitions ships load and unload on a monthly basis. Navmag Indian Island is part of the Northwest Training Complex EIS currently being discussed. Yesterday we received an extention from the Navy for Public Comments until Mar 11th. The Navy has a history in our community of 'making a strong attempt at deluding the public'. They are pretty savy with their public relations. It is very difficult to educate our public on the 'real' intentions of the Navy. We all want to believe that the Navy is concerned about our safety, and that they are protecting the public. But when the Navy wants to 'blow up explosives in our bay' we begin to wonder. If we didn't have ferry traffic, recreational boats, munitions ships in our bay it still would be pretty stupid to 'blow up explosives' for environmental reasons alone. The Navy recently expanded the 'security zone' around Indian Island as if security would take care of an Explosive Quantity Safety Distance issue. Mind you we are a tourist community. We already have an encroachment issue with the expansion of the depot over the last 8 years. It is a mess. The Navy paints us as a bunch of troublemakers and the local military people 'profile' us as unpatriotic. We are environmentalists not terrorists. It is just plain nonsense. We can't get our local papers to even print a decent article about our concerns. The Navy PR people have them under pressure of some kind, probably a national security issue. We have bought more time to respond to this latest environmental impact and hope that Oregon and Calif. will stand with us on this. It is the responsiblity of citizens to engage with their governing bodies concerning the safety and welfare of all citizens and the environment in which their livihoods depend on. That is just simply being a responsible person. Pat Porter Port Townsend, WA

Old Student February 4, 2009 11:05 am (Pacific time)

I too am grateful to have learned about this issue from Ms. Gargano, and I believe she has reason to be alarmed. It seems that coastal Oregon has yet to strike a healthy balance between development and conservation. On the one hand we resist change to preserve our character, and the other we turn around and build a strip mall or more condos. The question we must ask ourselves is not whether the "mines" are real or not, but rather how is all this supposed to help our community? If it doesn't, are we unpatriotic for saying so? Are healthy marine ecosystems really all that important to our economy? If so, what exactly are the benefits of allowing the Navy in? Why did it take an outraged letter to the editor to get the issue heard anyway? We don't all have time to examine every square inch of every issue of every paper around here, but something this big should have been on several front pages long before the hearing took place. But, that would have required giving the people of Oregon the benefit of the doubt. It would have acknowledged the potential for organized resistance to this proposal. However, it would have also given supporters a chance to mobilize in support of the Navy--if such support exists. I still haven't heard of any of that either.

Dennis Couch February 4, 2009 6:29 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for printing this letter, it shows where we have completely blotched it and continue to do such. Ant unless we plan for success, we shall continue to fail. With every need to keep the government's actions close and under scrutiny, who would have thought that the intents of the Navy could have been public knowledge for six months and not a single newspaper, watchdog group or interested party found this newsworthy until the eleventh hour! What do the groups we donate to, have for an excuse for this blunder? Is someone asleep at the wheel? I would believe that six months worth of organized protest would allow the best chance to defeat these plans, so why do we get the alarm only now from these groups? What about the press? Is this not important enough to many, that the press would rather print yet another Paris Hilton article and pass this one up? We fail! All that is left now is to blame the Fox for not guarding the henhouse. Oh, and if you are sufficently upset with the Navy's testing plans off of Oregon's coasts, you might think about making a donation to help them further their work. They are looking out for us and our interests.

Thankful February 3, 2009 8:56 am (Pacific time)

Thank you editor, for printing this letter. I'm in Newport and heard NOTHING about this proposal until yesterday. For those griping about the OPINION piece, recognize if the Navy really wanted to inform the public, they would have actually complied with the intent of the notice rules and published notice of hearing in more than 1, tiny paper (I have no idea if they complied with the letter of the law; I’m sure there are others looking into that now). What's amusing is their attempt to stay low on the radar will wind up back firing, as many people who would otherwise have no opinion are now suspicious of the proposal due to the lack of appropriate notice. The Armed Forces protect and defend the Rule of Law abroad, they need to FOLLOW it in the US too.

Dennis Couch February 2, 2009 10:28 pm (Pacific time)

Mark Twain once stated" If you don't read the news, you are uninformed, but if you do, then you are ill informed". It is the nature of the beast, as people have their agendas. Agendas are pushed, massaged and colored until they have the desired effect of the author. Some material is made to inform, and other material is made to deceive. Would your eyebrows raise if your wife asked you to bring back 8 pounds of milk from the store? I would suspect that having an enquiring mind, you may ask her something along the line of "Sweetheart, haven't we grown comfortable together purchasing our liquids in accepted liquid volumns of measurement?" You just may consider having her looked at, or at least, wonder why she detoured from the norm. One becomes suspect. Does 8000 pounds of a LIQUID sound like a lot? How many gallons would that be? My guess is that it would depend on the specific gravity of the liquid. Depending on the chemical in question, that magic 8000 lbs may be less than 2500 gallons... or less than 1000 gallons. It may even be less. Much less. If a chemical has been shown to cause lung tumors in a specific type of lab rat, does that prove that this chemical will also cause lung tumors in humans? If a chemical causes lung tumors in a specific type of lab rat, does this prove that this chemical is responsible for every cancer that plagues mankind? If a chemical warning says "this chemical CAN or MAY cause cancer, is this just another way of saying WILL cause cancer, or DOES cause cancer? No one will ever know for sure about every chemical for the reason that it is considered unethical to experiment on humans.

Fenian February 2, 2009 8:12 pm (Pacific time)

As someone without a dog in the fight, I can honestly say that the editor's bold face comments were ruder than the comment that twisted his panties. His remarks clearly show his bias. "Filthy rotten"? How professional. No wonder the print media is dying.

Editor: Pardon the emotion, we are deeply involved in the investigation of the contamination of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station where I served in the 1980's. The Navy has not made anything easy for the veterans who have been ill and the tragedy that surrounds those who died because of the contamination is unabating. I don't think calling a spade a spade makes anyone unprofessional. I call it responsive.

FactHungry February 2, 2009 7:40 pm (Pacific time)

I was at the meeting too. Ms. Gargano is very misleading and exposing a distinct bias - a bias apparently shared by

I haven't the time for ignorant drivel like this, so I'll point out only one of the flaws in Ms. Gargano's illogic...her paranoia about the "mine field".

According to the Navy the "mine field" contains simulated mines - buoyant items the rough equivalent of barrels temporarily anchored to the sea floor so submarines can practice transiting hazardous areas without actually being subjected to explosives.

Salem-News has pubished aranoia and tripe from an andmittedly biased source. That's not news.

Editor: I don't know what kind of "news" you are accustomed to FH, but this is a "Letter to the Editor" and that is not the same thing as an article generated by the staff of   I thought Ms. Gargano's observations were very worth sharing, and here is the comment section for people like yourself to add your two cents.  However, if you are rude I will flush your comment right down the drain, so keep it productive.  As far as my "bias" goes, I was with KATU Channel-2 News in Portland one day when Navy jets came screaming over the Oregon State Capitol grounds about a hundred feet off the deck.  They had no right to do that according to the rules, but the public affairs staff at Whidbey Island NAS had next to nothing to say about it.  They didn't seem very worried about what the people of Salem thought.  I'd say experiences like that might taint the well a little, but the Navy has a filthy rotten reputation at environmental stewardship and that among many other reasons, sends red flags up into the air.  Don't even get me started about the military, I am well schooled and experienced in this area as a former Marine and a person who has spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan covering operations with the Oregon Guard.

Anonymous February 2, 2009 6:09 pm (Pacific time)

add this to the entire National Guard, being sent to Iraq. oops, nope, they are keeping a handful and a rented helicopter. You will soon be seeing foreign soldiers on your streets. We are becoming "globalist" hope you enjoy it. Ask Tim about the Uganda military in Iraq. He is learned, but what he does not know, because they would not show him, is how they treat people..not nicely. Oregons National Guard is GONE..look it up. Its mainstream news. ah heck..I'll help but getting tired of this.. first view this. then: his morning, I read a confirmed article that: Called into duty for a 400-day deployment, all 12 of the Oregon National Guard Black Hawk medevac helicopters and 135 pilots, crew chiefs, maintenance and support staff are heading to Oklahoma for training and then on to Iraq. leaving only four pilots and one borrowed helicopter to cover the state's emergency Guard calls. Seems as tho Oregon is without a national guard.. Looks as tho we are on our own here. where is YOUR obama savior now?

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