Top members of the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. last month to lobby against the Navy’s EA-18G Growlers.
They will report on their trip at a meeting 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 20103 Highway 525 in Freeland. The program is hosted by the Whidbey Island Fellowship of Reconciliation and is open to the public.
The group said they met with both legislators and staffers from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Pentagon, National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
“We thought our reception would be cool, but in most cases it was very warm,” said the group’s president Michael Monson. Monson made the trip with group members Ken Pickard and Maryon Attwood.
Monson said they were happy with the reception they were given.
“They had done their homework, they knew our situation,” Monson said. “We were really surprised how much they knew about our situation and gave us some very good suggestions. We were very high on the way home, it was just absolutely marvelous. Even the Navy, they listened to what we had to say.”
The group has stated its intention to close the Navy’s Outlying Field in Coupeville and remove the EA-18G from Puget Sound. They say their mission is to protect the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the region, including the marine, migratory and endangered species, and preserve the historic northwest communities being threatened by military jet training flights.
“This is now a regional issue, not just an OLF issue,” Monson said. “The Growler is a poor fit for Whidbey Island and Puget Sound.”
The Navy is hoping to bring three additional Growler squadrons to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the coming years, and is in the process of completing an Environmental Impact Statement on the Growler.
Monson said that with 68 state parks and eight national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and public lands that border Puget Sound, the Navy’s plan to expand its operation in the area is “out of balance” with the region’s civilian interests.
“Because the Navy chose to build the EA-18G Growler without any noise mitigation features, over the objections of their own auditors, it is part of a growing military noise problem,” Attwood said. “The high noise levels of this aircraft are impacting civilian communities and have created a public health issue.”