Navy SEALs stop using Washington State Parks after residents express fear of seeing ‘armed men’

The U.S. Navy is putting SEAL training on hold in Washington State Parks while a legal battle over their use winds its way through the courts.

“It’s hard to find peace in the woods when armed frogs might be lurking behind every tree,” lawyers for the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, the group behind the lawsuit against the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, argued in a legal letter filed last month.

En gruppe af Navy Seal-elever.  <span class="ophavsret">Charles Ommanney / Getty Images</span>“data-src =”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ t.ae8jfCqnIOv.PDR2Mj0g– ~ B / aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u / https: //<noscript><img alt=Charles Ommanney / Getty Images“src =”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ ae8jfCqnIOv.PDR2Mj0g– ~ B / aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u / https: // “”

A group of Navy Seal students. Charles Ommanney / Getty Images


The Navy has used Washington State Coastal Parks for over 30 years for SEAL cold water training and other special operations drills, where leaders say the area offers the perfect environment to simulate what elite forces may encounter during difficult operations abroad.

“This area provides a unique environment with cold water, extreme tidal changes, currents in several variants, low visibility, complex underwater terrain, climate and rigorous land terrain, which provides an advanced training environment,” Navy spokesman Joe Overton told Coffee or Die Magazine.

But the Navy’s use of Washington’s coastline has recently come under fire from local residents who are concerned about both the physiological and environmental impact that SEAL training may have on others using the parks.

“I do not care to catch a glimpse of apparently armed men lurking around, and I certainly do not want to risk my young grandchildren seeing such a sight,” a resident wrote to state regulators during a public comment period while the state tried to renew its agreement with the Navy.

Other residents expressed similar concerns, arguing that the parks should serve as a place to relax for the residents.

“In these days of great division in our civil society, we do not need insidious men in camo uniforms carrying toy weapons around our state and county parks,” said another commentator. “People frequent parks to escape tensions, not to encounter more. Keep the Navy’s command training out of our parks!”

Another commenter expressed concern about UAVs, arguing, “The Navy’s plan is to use larger, gasoline-powered UAVs as well as smaller, electrically powered types. This offers significant potential for direct and indirect damage to birds as well as auditory disturbance of experience. of park visitors. “

The complaints led the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, by a 4-3 vote, to agree to a scaled-down training that would limit where and when SEALs could train, prompting the lawsuit to completely block the use of state parks.

The lawsuit claims the training may deter residents from using the parks for fear of “meeting the proposed war games or being spied on by Navy personnel.”

The Navy claims that SEAL training in the parks has not disturbed visitors, noting that there is no use of live fire ammunition or explosive devices.

But that assurance has not convinced local residents, who say the Navy should use the 46 miles of Washington’s coastline already under its jurisdiction, an area that the Navy said does not offer as much realism to SEALs.

“While there are several naval properties in the area, they do not provide the full range of environments necessary for this training to be as realistic as possible,” Overton said.

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