Has Navy gone too far in expansion plans across western Washington, including attempts to restrict development on Hood Canal?

By Peninsula Daily News staff

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INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS AT at two newspapers, The Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune, have been studying the Navy's activities beyond its controversial electronic-warfare range proposal for the North Olympic Peninsula.

Both newspapers came up with some lengthy, eye-opening reports recently, accompanied by informational graphics:

Navy stealthily targets Hood Canal development (Seattle Times, June 28):

By Will Drabold
Seattle Times staff reporter

With little public outreach, the Navy has stealthily put thousands of acres of Puget Sound shoreline and upland off-limits to proposed and future development.

Recently released documents reveal the Navy has marked a “sphere of influence” in the western Puget Sound that it can use to block developments — even after they're well under way — by deeming them threats to national security.

The Navy has clandestinely targeted projects, rating them according to perceived threat level.

Meanwhile, area developers say they were unaware their work was being monitored.

Last year, the Navy was so worried about a proposed pier bringing barges into Hood Canal that it managed to restrict a narrow, 70-mile strip of seafloor to stop it.

The state hired two appraisers, who independently valued the strip, some 4,804 acres of public land, at $1.68 million.

But to pay Washington state that amount, the Navy first needed approval from Congress.

To get around the lawmakers, the Navy reappraised the lease in-house, valuing the seafloor acreage at $720,000, according to a Seattle Times review of hundreds of pages of Navy and state documents.

The state Department of Natural Resources agreed to the new price despite state law that requires the agency to obtain fair-market value for this “restrictive easement.”

READ MORE: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/navy-stealthily-targets-hood-canal-development-2/

Navy enjoys Northwest building spree but faces lawsuits and other challenges (Tacoma News Tribune, June 30):

By Adam Ashton
Staff Writer

New jets. New ships. New piers stretching into Hood Canal.

They're just some of the big-ticket items the Navy has bought for its bases around the Puget Sound area.

After a dozen years of Army growth and the end of a $2 billion wartime investment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Navy Region Northwest is on its own building spree.

It's spending hundreds of millions of dollars improving facilities ranging from the wharf that handles nuclear missiles at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to the hangars on Whidbey Island set to receive some of the military's latest aircraft.

When the boom finishes five or so years from now, advocates say the Navy will have a secure footing in the Puget Sound region for decades, similar to what the Army and its boosters say they spent years establishing at JBLM.

It'll be home to some of the military's newest weapon systems, making it an unlikely target if the Pentagon begins a serious downsizing.

But before then, the Navy has to win back public opinion. It lost some support as it rolled out plans for six major projects that have unsettled environmental advocates throughout the Northwest.

It's also facing two lawsuits in federal courts. One challenges operations at NAS Whidbey Island over concerns about jet noise. A second takes aim at the environmental studies the Navy conducted before it built the new $715 million explosive-handling wharf at Bangor.

It has also been slowed on two proposals that would add features to Navy training in the skies above the Olympic Peninsula and in the depths of the Pacific along the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

READ MORE: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/06/30/3886236_navy-enjoys-northwest-building.html?rh=1

Last modified: July 05. 2015 8:47AM
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