Navy wants comments on hedgerow plan for OLF Coupeville

The Navy will plant a hedgerow and disseminate a report on the history of Outlying Field Coupeville under a proposed agreement with two history-minded agencies.

The Navy is seeking public comment on a draft memorandum of agreement between Navy Region Northwest, the state Historic Preservation Officer and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regarding security enhancements at OLF Coupeville.

The issue is over concrete eco-blocks that the Navy placed along the perimeter of the field in Central Whidbey; they prevent vehicles from driving onto the runway. Navy EA-18G Growler pilots use the field to practice simulated aircraft-carrier landings.

The Navy went through the proper regulatory process before placing the concrete blocks in 2013. But after the community expressed concerns about the aesthetics and the lack of public notice, the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation reversed an earlier finding and found that blocks have an “adverse effect” on the historic landscape of neighboring Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

In response, the proposed memorandum was drafted.

Under the proposal, the Navy will plant a hedgerow of Oregon grape, Nootka rose and snowberries in front of the blocks to shield them from sight.

In addition, the Navy agreed to create a report on the historical legacy of OLF Coupeville to the history of Whidbey Island. The intent of the document, the draft memorandum states, is to provide a historic context for the property.

It is to include documentation of the early settlement and land claims that overlap the OLF Coupeville property; a history of OLF Coupeville for the entire period of significance for Ebey’s Reserve; and the Navy’s use of OLF Coupeville and its relationship to the broader historic legacy of the military in Ebey’s Reserve, it states.

The document also says the Navy will develop a consultation plan to include guidance on how the Navy, the reserve’s Trust Board and the National Park Service can “participate in and share information regarding property management, project planning and project execution at OLF Coupeville.”

The memorandum is available for review at www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrnw/installations/nas_whidbey_island/om/environmental_support/section-106-national-historic-preservation-act.html. The website can also be found by Googling “NAS Whidbey historic preservation.”

Comments will be accepted until the process is complete, but are preferred before Oct. 31, the Navy reports. Comments may be submitted in writing to Commanding Officer, NAS Whidbey Island, Attn: NASWI CR PM, 1115 W. Lexington Drive Oak Harbor, WA 98278, or sent via email to NAVFACNWCR@navy.mil. All comments will be provided to NAS Whidbey Island’s cultural resources program manager.

Those who want a response to a comment should provide an email or street address. All personally identifiable information of individuals who provide comments will be kept confidential and will not be released, unless otherwise specifically indicated by the commenter or as required by law, according to the Navy.

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