The state Parks and Recreation Commission appears ready to move forward on a proposal by the Navy to conduct training on Deception Pass and 27 other state parks.
After conducting a State Environmental Policy Act Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance, the commission found that the proposed Navy training likely won’t significantly hurt the environment, it released in a statement last week.
The Navy’s activities on state parks would include “small unit, intermediate and advanced cold-water maritime and land-based training activities for naval special operations personnel,” according to commission documents. Some locations could be used up to 36 times a year for up to 72 hours at a time.
The parks commission outlined mitigation measures the Navy must follow to reduce impacts on plants, animals, cultural and historic resources, as well as recreation. No portion of the park may be closed to the public that would otherwise be open, and if members of the public are near a training area, all activity must cease, according to the document.
Public comment is being collected on the Parks Commission website until Jan. 6 for a special virtual meeting on Jan. 26. The proposal is also on the agenda for the commission’s virtual regular meeting on Jan. 28.
The Navy has had permission to conduct training on state parks before. It was granted a five-year right-of-entry permission to train regularly in five Washington state parks in 2015. This new proposal however would extend to allow for regular training in 28 parks in the state, including Joseph Whidbey, Fort Ebey, Camano Island, South Whidbey, Cama Beach and Skagit Island.
A previous public comment period yielded 79 pages of comments, with most opposing the proposal. The Skagit Audubon Society, Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve and Whidbey Environmental Action Network are among the groups that spoke against it.