Forest Service officials have given the green light to a controversial plan to stage electronic warfare games on the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.
The decision allows personnel from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station to park three “mobile transmitter” trucks at 11 locations in the western part of the national forest. The trucks will shoot electromagnetic signals skyward. Navy fighter jets will try to detect and intercept the signals.
The proposal drew widespread criticism from local residents, conservationists and the general public. FSEEE was among those to file a formal objection to the proposal, contending that there is no legal authorization for conducting the training on the national forest.
Terms of the permit allow the Navy to train up to 260 days a year, for 8 to 16 hours each day. No training would be allowed on weekends or federal holidays.
Olympic National Forest officials said in a news release that “(n)o significant public health or safety impacts would occur as a result of the training exercises.” They said that the agency worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in reviewing the proposal, and determined that the training is “not anticipated to result in significant disruption to species.”
Dean Millet, a district ranger on the Olympic National Forest, signed the decision notice on Monday.
Navy officials are reviewing the permit, said Greg Wahl, environmental coordinator for the national forest, and still must sign the document.
“As soon as they do, they can use the Forest Service roads,” Wahl said.