Letter: Bristow should know the locals before labeling

Editor,

In Northwest Voices, Steve Bristow, president of Oak Harbor Council of the Navy League complains about cartoonist Dave Horsey’s depiction titled, “Navy’s noise need for speed on Whidbey Island riles residents.”

Mr. Bristow makes several statements that are inaccurate. Yes, jet noise has emanated from our island since the 1950s, but the proposed expansion of the Growler fleet would more than triple the flights that were common in the 1950s and the new Growler is considerably louder.

Mr. Bristow also infers that the complainers are new arrivals to Whidbey Island. I’ve lived on Whidbey Island for over 40 years and come from a pioneering family that came to what was known as the Oregon Territory in 1849.

I grew up hiking all over the Olympic Mountains and beaches and never heard Navy jets flying over at low altitudes like they do today. He depicts us locals with statements claiming, “complaints expressed by current activists are purposeful histrionics, easily debunked exaggerations.” The reality is the Navy proposes to triple OLF flights with planes that reach over 120 decibels; that’s deafening. Hearing loss begins at noise levels about 80 decibels. These noise levels don’t just harm humans, but killer whales and wildlife too. I’m a veteran myself, and I don’t oppose our military as long as they respect our rural agrarian and active outdoor lifestyle. There are very few days in the year that I am not actively outdoors working on our land or hiking on local trails and beaches. Deafening noise does not fit with my normal activity, and I like listening to the wildlife on the land around me. I suggest Steve Bristow come on a hike with me and get to know us locals before trying to depict us so negatively. I guess I kind of wonder how long he’s lived here too?

Gerald (Jerry) Hill

Freeland

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