Electronic Warfare coming to a neighborhood near you

In a letter to the editor in last week’s Forks Forum from D. Brown, Brown questioned a notice she happened to see on the window at the Forks Post Office and what it was about.

What has been discovered is that this little notice at the Post Office was the only notice our community received regarding this activity that the Navy soon will be implementing in our area. The activity includes installation and operation of equipment on an existing tower at Octopus Mountain and operation of the Mobile Electronic Warfare Training System, vehicle mounted emitters, in the Olympic Peninsula on USFS and WSDNR lands to facilitate training.

After questioning Dean Millett, District Ranger, Pacific Ranger District, he did share a number of documents that shed some light on this project.

A description of the activity using a mobile unit on USFS roads involves defining a certain area where the Electronic Warfare (EW) will take place and if humans or animals are detected, the activity must be stopped, due to electromagnetic radiation exposure. Is it dangerous? Humans are easy to see, will this have an affect on wildlife?

There are many questions but the main problem is we never got to ask them or comment on this.

Millett explained that there was still time to comment but you could only comment if you had already commented before and there had been only two comments.

Why were there only two comments? Because the legal notices describing this proposal were not published anywhere that anyone that lives in Forks might see them. The Navy claims in its Environmental Assessment that the public within the study area was notified, legal notices were published in the Seattle Times, The Olympian, The Daily World and the Montesano Vidette in August, but nothing in the Forks Forum or Peninsula Daily News.

The Navy also says in its EA that local elected official were notified. A call to Forks City Hall revealed that Mayor Bryon Monohon and City Attorney Rod Fleck have never heard of it.

So what does this activity mean for our community?

Does the Navy and the U.S. Forest Service believe that “we” the people that live in Forks are not worthy of knowing what is planned? That we are not important enough to share this information with, information about an activity that may have an impact on our quality of life? Our tourism industry? Unknown effects on wildlife and human beings? Logging and fishing get blamed every day for the failure of fisheries but the Navy is exempt inland and in the Marine Sanctuary if wildlife is killed?

The bottom line is we got left out. If you would like to see the public comment period extended or learn more about this plan, call Dean Millett at 374-1222 or Charles Escola (Navy-Silverdale) at 360-396-0069 or Leslie Yuenger, Northwest Public Affairs Officer (Navy) 360-396-6387.