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Citizens of Ebey's Reserve asks for temporary halt to practices at Outlying Field
Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve are asking the Navy to delay touch and go operations at Outlying Field Coupeville until the completion of the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement.
The request comes via press release in response to the Navy’s decision to delay the activation of a new Growler squadron until the EIS is complete.
Maryon Attwood, COER member and owner of Cook on Clay pottery studio near OLF, said she found the Navy’s “good neighbor” policy highly questionable as the increased flights are occurring in the same month when Whidbey Island has the most visitors, according to the news release.
“Last Friday, farmers could not bring in their crops for the Saturday market, artists could not set up their tents for a long-planned Studio Tour, and wedding planners had to delay their preparations.”
“All of these activities were outdoors and had to be put on hold for the Navy jets,” Attwood said. “Sales are lost as potential customers arrive and then flee when the jets fly over. The arts industry here brings $13 million dollars to Island County, and over 90 percent of our dollars stay right here.”
The delay request was sent via news release to state and federal lawmakers, as well as the Navy’s top brass, Attwood said.
The Navy postponed the stand-up of an expeditionary electronic attack squadron, VAQ-143, in early August, saying it was awaiting the result of the EIS, according to a report in the Navy League’s Sea Power Magazine.
“A new date has not been set and will not be set until after the completion of the environmental impact study,” said Jeannie Groeneveld, public affairs officer for the Naval Air Force U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Michael Monson, president of COER, is calling for the Navy to delay the use of the Coupeville Outlying Field for touch and go operations, as they did last year.
“Since the Navy has announced that it is delaying the formation of a new Growler squadron until the EIS is completed, COER believes it is reasonable to request a delay of training flights at OLF until the EIS is completed,” Monson said in COER’s news release.
Additionally, the group claims arresting training flights at the OLF makes sense in light of the Navy’s announced intention to amend the Growler EIS and potentially add 22 more Growlers.
“These are major changes in excess of the original EIS that citizens were allowed to comment on about transitioning from Prowlers to the Growlers,” Monson said.
The Navy has no intention of stopping the operations at OLF but will keep to the 6,120 they agreed to in the 2005 Environmental Assessment, according to Ted Brown, the Navy’s Installations and Environmental public affairs officer.
Brown said touch and go training is tied to the carrier operations and that local authorities have little control over the schedules.
"It's a requirement that they have to train a certain number of hours before they go to the carrier," Brown said. "There's no real flexibility. There are very good reasons why we fly."
Historically, the Navy has exceeded 30,000 touch and go operations in the 1980s, and the 6,120 they are now performing is not a lot when put in context, Brown said.