By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
OAK HARBOR — The Navy says more electronic attack jets and added practice flights at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station won’t have a significant impact on the environment.
The Navy has released its final environmental assessment after evaluating the potential effects of the transition from the older Prowler to the new Growler jets by three land-based squadrons based at the air station. The number of jets in each of those squadrons also would grow from four to five.
The assessment included a look at the proposed move of a reserve expeditionary squadron from Joint Base Andrews, Md., to Whidbey Island. In addition, the fleet replacement squadron at Whidbey would get more jets.
No change in the training programs is planned, nor are the locations of flight operations or the ratio of daytime to nighttime flight operations at Ault Field, Navy officials said.
However, with the additional number of Growlers at the air station, as many as 1,000 more practice flights each year out of Ault Field are proposed. The Navy took public comment on the draft environmental assessment in August.
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station gets an average of 38 noise complaints a month. The number goes up in the summer when people have their windows open late into the evening. About 140 noise complaints were taken in July, but the number goes down in the winter and it varies when squadrons are deployed, Navy officials said.
Copies of the environmental assessment are available for review at the public libraries in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Anacortes and La Conner. The nearest library for people living on Camano Island and in the Stanwood area is La Conner Regional Library, 614 Morris St.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.