The U.S. Navy has submitted a request to expand its Special Operations Training to 29 state parks.
This includes 4 parks in Grays Harbor and 3 in Pacific County.
Twin Harbors, Westport Light, Westhaven, Grayland Beach, Leadbetter Point, Cape Disappointment, and Pacific Pines State Parks are all being proposed as training sites.
The Washington State Parks Department has created a resource for information on the proposal, providing information on how to comment on the possible use.
They say that the Navy currently has a Right of Entry permit allowing it to conduct training in five state parks: Blake Island, Fort Flagler, Illahee, Mystery Bay and Scenic Beach.
That five-year permit expires May 1.
They say that while the Navy has been using these facilities, there have been no conflicts between the Navy and the public during trainings.
This training would not include simulated munitions or unmanned aircraft as part of the training.
In their application, training is being described as “Insertion/Extraction”, “Over-The-Beach”, and “Surveillance and Reconnaissance”
Each park appears to have the same base application for uses.
The Navy says that training would be conducted over a 2-8 week period where trainees and support personnel would participate in “cold-water maritime and land-based training”
The training is described as having the main objective of “avoidance of detection” so they say there will likely be minimal interaction with the public.
If the Navy were not permitted to train in the parks, they would relegate their operations to a restricted number of other sites within the state.
The Washington State Parks Commission is expected to make a decision on the Navy’s application at a regularly scheduled meeting this spring or summer.
The public can comment on this proposal in person (limit of up to three minutes per person) at any regularly scheduled commission meeting, electronically through our online form or by mail to:
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
c/o Becki Ellison
P.O. Box 42650
Olympia, WA 98504-2650
A special comment hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 6, at Fort Worden Historical State Park in Port Townsend. More details to follow.
All comments on this topic will be provided to the Commission for consideration.
Navy application (PDF)
2014 Letter of Permission (PDF)
2015 Right of Entry permit (PDF)
Letter from Gov. Inslee (PDF)
Parks response to draft Environmental Assessment (PDF)
Navy Environmental Assessment (FONSI) (PDF)
The public can watch the Parks’ staff report to the Commission online (limit of 1,000 participants). The live stream is listen only. Participants will be able to see and hear the report; no public comment will be taken. The report is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. March 12, 2020.
Join WebEx meeting
Meeting number (access code): 808 726 244
Meeting password: mUfihpAm922
Join by phone
Meeting number (access code): 808 726 244
The report will be posted to this page the week after the meeting.
*Updated periodically on the Washington State Parks link to include additional questions/answers as needed.
Is the Navy currently using State Parks for Special Operations training?
Yes. The Navy currently has a Right of Entry permit allowing it to conduct training in five state parks: Blake Island, Fort Flagler, Illahee, Mystery Bay and Scenic Beach.
Does State Parks have the authority to permit Navy use of State Parks?
Yes. State law allows the Commission to govern state parks for both public recreation and public benefits if there is no direct conflict with laws. (RCW 79A.05.030(1))
Commission authority to cooperate with federal government agencies and issue permits to use state parks:
• RCW 79A.05.070
Commission administrative rules on the issuance of permits:
• WAC 352-32-300
Commission policy and delegation to staff to issue permits, including rights of entry:
• 25-07-1 Delegations of Authority for Real Estate Transactions & Service (authority delegated to Director from Commission).
• Delegation of Authority Memorandum dated Sept. 16, 2013, revised Nov. 6, 2013. (Authority delegated from Director to Assistant Director)
Have there been any Navy personnel/trainee conflicts in the parks resulting from these trainings?
No. We are not aware of any conflicts between the Navy and the public during trainings. The Navy has protocols in place to stop exercises if a member of the public enters the training area.
Will State Parks be compensated by the Navy for training activities?
The Navy is responsible for paying the required application processing fee outlined in State Parks’ Real Property Agreement fee schedule. (WAC 352-32-300)
How does the Commission make decisions on these types of requests?
Commission decisions consider several factors including agency policy, staff recommendations, environmental review and public input. All decisions are made in an open public meeting.
Parks’ staff plan to provide an update to the Commission at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, March 12, in Chelan.
Does the Navy’s request include simulated munitions in state parks?
No. The Navy has not included the simulated building clearance training (which uses simulated munitions) in their application.
Does the Navy’s request include use of Unmanned Aircraft (drones) in the state parks?
No. The Navy has not included the use of unmanned aircraft systems in their application.
Will State Parks conduct environmental review?
Yes. State Parks must consider the environmental implications of its decisions consistent with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Some decisions may be exempted from the statutory requirements of a threshold determination if they meet the criteria of either a statutory (RCW 43.21C) or categorial exemption (WAC 197-11-800). Agencies are not required to document categorical exemptions. An agency can adopt National Environmental Policy Act environmental documents for consideration under SEPA (WAC 197-11-610). However, State Parks has requested the Navy prepare a SEPA checklist as part of its request that Parks intends to issue a threshold determination.
Can the public participate in this process?
Yes. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission welcomes and encourages public involvement. Comments can be provided electronically through the link on this web page, mailed into the address provided on this web page, or in person at any of the regularly scheduled commission meetings.
All comments will be provided to the Commission for consideration.
Parks staff plan to provide a report to the Commission on 12:45 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in Chelan.
The report presentation and audio will be streamed live and can be viewed by clicking on the following link:
The public will also have an opportunity to provide comment at a special public meeting on Wednesday, May 6, at Fort Worden Historical State Park in Port Townsend.
When will a decision be made?
The Commission is expected to make a decision on the Navy’s application at a regularly scheduled meeting this spring or summer.