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Navy SEALs to stop using Washington state parks after residents voice fears of seeing ‘armed men’

The U.S. Navy is pausing SEAL coaching at Washington state parks whereas a authorized battle over their use winds its manner via the courts.

“It is difficult to find peace in the woods when armed frogmen might be lurking behind every tree,” attorneys for the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, the group behind the lawsuit in opposition to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, argued in a legal brief filed final month.

A gaggle of Navy Seal trainees. Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

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The Navy has used Washington state coastal parks for over 30 years for SEAL chilly water coaching and different particular operations workout routines, with leaders saying the realm presents the proper setting to simulate what the elite forces could encounter on troublesome operations abroad.

“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,” Navy spokesman Joe Overton instructed Coffee or Die Magazine.

But the Navy’s use of Washington shoreline has not too long ago come beneath hearth from native residents who’re involved about each the physiological and environmental impression the SEAL coaching can have on others using the parks.

“I do not care to catch a glimpse of apparently armed men skulking around and I DEFINITELY do not want to risk having my young grandchildren see such a sight,” a resident wrote to state regulators throughout a public remark interval whereas the state was making an attempt to renew its settlement with the Navy.

Other residents expressed related considerations, arguing that the parks are supposed to function a spot to chill out for residents.

“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,” one other commenter mentioned. “People frequent parks to escape tension, not to encounter more. Keep the Navy commando training out of our parks!”

Another commenter expressed considerations over UAVs, arguing, “The Navy’s plan is to use larger, gasoline-powered UAV’s as well as smaller, electric-powered types. This offers significant potential for direct and indirect injury to birds as well as auditory disruption to the experience of park visitors.”

The complaints led to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in a 4-3 vote to agree to a scaled-back coaching that will restrict the place and what time SEALs might practice, prompting the lawsuit to block the use of state parks totally.

The lawsuit contends that the coaching could dissuade residents from using the parks over fears of “encountering the proposed war games or being spied upon by Navy personnel.”

The Navy contends that SEAL coaching within the parks has not interfered with guests, noting that there is no such thing as a use of live-fire ammunition or explosive gadgets.

But that reassurance has not satisfied native residents who say the Navy ought to use the 46 miles of Washington shoreline already beneath its jurisdiction, an space the Navy mentioned doesn’t supply as a lot realism to SEALs.

“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,” Overton mentioned.

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