A Historical Reserve Assaulted
Whidbey Island’s Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the first and only in the nation, tells the story of the Native Americans who occupied the prairies and forests and the settlers who followed. The Reserve draws visitors seeking to experience an authentic setting; its tilled fields, estuaries, and quiet skies represent the best of “heritage tourism.” Yet, Ebey’s Reserve bears the brunt of Growler jets as they “touch and go” on the nearby runway. Noisy jets flying overhead are incompatible with the peace and authenticity of a historical reserve.
Forty years ago, the community on Central Whidbey made the decision to protect Ebey’s Reserve; property owners gave up their development rights. Allowing military jets unlimited access to the airspace above the Reserve diminishes the significance of this community effort.Historical structures—barns, cabins, storehouses—are threatened by Growlers that fly 300-600 feet overhead.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that adverse effects on historic properties must be avoided, minimized, or mitigated. While weakening of the structures and outright damage from intense low frequency vibrations from the Growlers is virtually guaranteed with 100 flights on busy training days, the Section 106 requirement has been disregarded.
Although the Navy is required to consult with local authorities— mayors, commissioners, and managers of Ebey’s Reserve—it has failed to do so, instead issuing a “memorandum of agreement” that none of the partners have agreed to. The Navy terminated negotiations in November, 2018 without reaching an agreement.