WASHINGTON – A judge has ruled that Navy SEALs will not be able to use Washington state parks as training grounds, according to the Navy Times.
In January 2021, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted to approve the Navy’s proposal to use more than 20 state parks for training purposes.
However, residents near affected parks and recreation-goers have complained of feeling unsafe seeing SEALs emerge from the water in the dark or seeing armed soldiers enter and disappear into parks.
The Northwest News Network also reports that many recreation-goers said in public comments that they would avoid these areas for fear SEALs would watch them without the knowledge or consent of visitors.
Nearby residents have also argued in public comments that state parks are meant to serve as places to relax.
Prior to the ruling, the Navy maintained that SEAL training at the parks did not interfere with visitors, noting that there is no use of live ammunition or explosive devices.
On Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the commission’s 2021 decision was illegal and outside its jurisdiction, which includes protecting and improving parks, according to The Navy. Times.
Additionally, Dixon ruled that the commission violated state environmental policy law by failing to fully consider how the formations could deter visitors.
The Navy halted training at state parks in January this year as the legal battle over its use worked its way through the court system.
The Navy has used Washington State Coastal Parks for more than 30 years for cold-water SEAL training and other special operations exercises, with leaders saying the region provides the perfect environment to simulate what elite forces may encounter during difficult operations overseas.
“This area offers a unique environment of cold water, extreme tidal changes, multi-variant currents, low visibility, complex underwater terrain, harsh climate and land terrain, which provides an advanced training environment” , Navy spokesman Joe Overton told Coffee or Die Magazine. .
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