‘Difficult to find peace in the woods’: Navy SEALs halt training at Wash state parks amid complaints, lawsuit

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U.S. Navy SEALS are temporarily putting their training exercises in Washington state parks on hold but an environmental activist group wants to evict them permanently.

“It is difficult to find peace in the woods when armed frogmen might be lurking behind every tree,” the ‘war-games” lamenting Whidbey Environmental Action Network reportedly asserted in legal papers filed against the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Coffee or Die Magazine reported.

The parties are due in court on April 1 for a hearing on the legal dispute in which the plaintiffs contend that the military exercises allegedly run counter to state law indicating that parks are meant for recreational and ecological purposes only.

In January 2021, even given many complaints from area residents, “the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in a 4-3 vote to agree to a scaled-back training that would limit where and what time SEALs could train, prompting the lawsuit to block the use of state parks entirely,” Fox News explained.

After the Navy attempted to renew an agreement about park usage for trainees, “hundreds of Washingtonians submitted written and oral comments on the proposal, the overwhelming majority of which were opposed. Commenters cited everything from environmental concerns to fears that SEALs would disturb the peace,” Coffee or Die Magazine reported.

“In these days of great division in our civil society, we don’t need stealthy men in camo uniforms toting toy guns around our State and County Parks. People frequent parks to escape tension, not to encounter more. Keep the Navy commando training out of our parks!” one commenter declared, which was included in 79 pages of responses.

Another person wrote “Parks are where we take our families to enjoy peace and quiet and interact with nature. The very thought of armed military, even if the ‘arms’ are not actual firearms, leaping out of bushes is the very antithesis of a park.”

The Navy, which has trained its elite Sea, Air, and Land Teams at the state’s coastal parks for three decades, describes the training as non-invasive, without the use of live ammo or explosives, and claims that the activities never prompted any incidents with those recreating at a park.

“The training included insertion and extraction of personnel via watercraft, reconnaissance, diving, and swimming,” a Navy spokesman told Coffee or Die.

“This area provides a unique environment of cold water, extreme tidal changes, multi-variant currents, low visibility, complex underwater terrain, climate and rigorous land terrain, which provides an advanced training environment,” the spokesman added.

This observation was in response to claims that the Navy, in the alternative, could use the 46 miles of Washington coastline under federal jurisdiction instead that does not require state permission.

“Although there are several Navy properties in the area, they do not provide the full range of environments needed for this training to be as realistic as possible,” he noted.

In addition to the presence of the rigorously trained commandos apparently making those locals who submitted public comments feel threatened or the equivalent, a local Audubon Society chapter purportedly said that SEAL drones could harm birds as well as be too noisy for humans.

Many social media users have concluded that the lawsuit is off base, so to speak. Here is a sample:

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