Letter: COER shouldn’t be able to hijack Section 106 process

Editor,

Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, has hijacked the Section 106 process. Based on an Island County public records request, COER hijacked the historical mitigation — Section 106 — process by design and in collusion with other “consulting parties,” specifically:

• COER’s mission, “remove all Growlers from the Northwest,” has followed an unsuccessful three-prong attack — delay NEPA, litigation and political pressure.

Now, they are using the Section 106 process.

• Despite COER’s clear position, the State Historical Preservation Officer, or SHPO, designated the COER president as both a “consulting party” and “the community” including an exclusive meeting with the governor to analyze the Navy’s offer, which was rejected — confirmed in the emailed record.

• During a congressional brokered $4 million offer process, COER firmly established its “not for sale” position and both the SHPO and local politicians appeared to align with them — also confirmed in the emails.

During the public meeting held on Dec. 19, COER members conflated every known issue with Section 106. Real facts are much different:

• Per founding documents, OLF Coupeville is part of Ebey’s Reserve and should be protected based on Ebey’s federal mandate. However, “OLF” was deleted from the NPS website in 2017.

• Ebey’s Reserve was created in 1978 when Navy was flying 25,000-plus operations a year with louder aircraft. The projected noise profile is less.

• Growler is less noisy — in decibels — than the Prowler per the NEPA noise study. COER challenged this in court with their own noise study, but the judge stated that “noise studies were similar” and the case was dismissed and never appealed.

• NPS completed an EIS for Ebey’s Reserve in 2006, stating, “Navy jet noise is minor to moderate impact.”

• Activists claim “Growler health impacts,” in particular heart disease. However, Washington state heath data shows the opposite, that heart-related mortality rates improved 26 percent since Growler transition.

• Activists claim Central Whidbey real estate values dropped since the Growler. However, the opposite is true — there’s been a 52 percent increase, per Zillow.

The Navy is a leader on environmental and partnering issues, garnering top awards and spending $12 million preserving thousands of acres inside and out of the reserve. How much has COER funded? Community support for the Navy is much higher than activists. Navy Facebook “likes” — NAS Whidbey and Support OLF — are 45 times higher than COER’s page. Given the above, the ACHP should take over negotiations from the state, re-balance the membership with objective groups, exclude COER and SDA, and leverage the real above facts absent of extremist group positioning.

Scott Smith

Anacortes

More in Letters to the Editor

Letter: Cartoonist doesn’t understand gun laws

Editor, Regarding the political cartoon in your Aug. 10 issue that shows… Continue reading

Letter: Stop throwing your butts onto the roads

Editor, Just over a year ago, my best friend and I decided… Continue reading

Letter: Christmas In July Food and Fund Drive a huge success

Editor, We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere… Continue reading

Letter: Business community in Oak Harbor is better off thanks to Cribb

Editor, I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to Christine Cribb for… Continue reading

Letter: Time spent in emergency room less than satisfactory

Editor, My first experience in the WhidbeyHealth emergency room was in May… Continue reading

Letter: Despite hyperbole, lawsuit not about shuttering base

Editor, The Bounce-on-Whidbey group is ramping up its rhetoric and scaring politicians… Continue reading

Letter: Kudos to city for its update to Windjammer

Editor, I’d like to extend heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the City… Continue reading

Letter: Humans aren’t responsible for climage change

Editor, I want to address the “Climate 101” lesson that Mr. Piazzon… Continue reading

Letter: State AG’s lawsuit about activism, not science

Editor, The Whidbey community should be quite cynical concerning the Washington Attorney… Continue reading

Most Read