The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics recently filed a lawsuit challenging the Forest Service’s decision to issue a special use authorization to the US Navy. The authorization would allow the Navy to conduct electronic warfare training on the Olympic National Forest and would involve the Navy parking mobile emitter vehicles in the Forest. The mobile units would then emit electromagnetic energy skyward at passing aircraft. The plaintiff asserted that the mobile emitters would degrade the backcountry recreational experience of its members.
The Navy had prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for its operations and, after it was completed, the Forest Service made a decision to issue a permit for the activity. The plaintiff argued that the EA was not valid because the Navy never considered locating its mobile emitters on private land. The plaintiff also complained that the EA “does not explain how the interests and needs of the general public are given priority over the Navy’s interest in deploying mobile emitters on national forest land.” The plaintiff further argued that the mobile emitters and yellow caution tape to be put up around the emitters “will alter the visual character of the roadside by imposing a military-like appearance.” The case is currently pending before the court.