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Navy airs training plans

The Navy is holding an open house and public hearing in Oak Harbor Tuesday night to gather comments on and explain a large document that will guide how the military branch will train in the Northwest for years to come.

The document, “Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for the Northwest Training Range Complex,” covers a large military training area in the Pacific that has been in use since World War II.

The impact statement and other information can be read online at www.NWTRangeComplexEIS.com.

The first of five public hearings on the impact statement will be at the Oak Harbor School District building at 350 S. Oak Harbor Street on Jan. 27. The public information session will begin at 5 p.m., followed by a public hearing at 7 p.m.

The following meetings will be in Pacific Beach, Aberdeen, Newport, Ore., and Eureka, Calif.

Upcoming changes to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station — the arrival of Growlers and Poseidons — are discussed in the draft.

When it comes to explosions on Whidbey, the two alternatives discussed in the draft call for a major decrease in the number of underwater detonations at the Crescent Harbor underwater training range for Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Only two 2.5-pound charges would be exploded each year. Environmentalists have complained about fish kills.

But the alternatives plan for a small increase in the use of explosives and pyrotechnics at the Seaplane Base Demolition Training Range.

The Navy is accepting comments throughout the 45-day comment period, from December 29, 2008 to February 11, 2009. All comments must be received no later than Feb. 11, 2009, to be considered in the Final EIS/OEIS.

Written comments may be submitted via the project Web site or by mail to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, 1101 Tautog Circle, Silverdale, WA 98315-1101, Attn: Mrs. Kimberly Kler – NWTRC EIS/OEIS.

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