Letters from a Neighbor about the Navy plan for practicing bombing from jfighter jets.


My wife and I believe that our community of Bryson-Hesperia, directly to the south of Fort Hunter-Liggett, will be severely impacted by the Navy's proposal to develop an air to ground target range at the fort. We know from more than 20 years of experience that these Navy fighter-bombers fly directly over or very close to our community. In past years, these training sorties have been sporadic and occasional. The Navy is now proposing over 2000 training flights a year. This averages to more than five sorties of multiple target runs everyday.

We want the Navy to understand that as water and air pollution poison the body, sound pollution poisons the mind.

These fighter-bombers are built for maximum power with no sound suppression features. They are extremely loud, many times louder than the commercial jetliners, which fly their north-south routes high above our community. At 1000 feet above the ground, these aircraft are ear splitting. At 20,000 feet above the ground, they create a long reverberating roar of angry thunder. The Navy has said that they will keep their sorties well away from and high above residential areas, but we know from experience that this is not so. This past week, one or two fighter-bombers passed just to the east of our home. These planes made two low altitude runs into Hunter-Liggett and then passed directly over Bryson-Hesperia in the direction of Lemoore. This scenario, increased more than a hundred fold, will completely destroy our quality of life and drive many residents from this area of natural quiet and beauty. Property values will plunge and our years of work and financial investment will be lost.

The Navy is aggressively forcing its proposal through a flood of opposition without having done a full environmental impact report (EIR). The Navy claims its right to use Military Operations Areas (MOA's) that are totally outdated. These MOA's were instituted during World War II, more than half a century ago. They are no longer justified and should be reconfigured. The Navy has not considered the present demographics of California and the negative impacts these fighter-bombers will have on our residential and natural communities. The population of California, including its central coast, has increased 5 times since these MOA's were instituted. The population of Bryson-Hesperia and the San Antonio Valley has increased that much in the last 30 years.

We have heard many and continuously changing reasons why the Navy needs to use Fort Hunter-Liggett for a high-use bombing range--tule fog at Lamore, 3 million dollar is fuel savings, suitable terrain, MOA's. None of these reasons justify the severe degradation of the central coast of California. There are excellent alternatives.

Why hasn't the Navy seriously considered other target sites? China Lake Naval Weapons Areas are already owned and used by the Navy. They offer thousands of acres of diverse terrain and potential targets, little more than 100 miles to the southeast of Lemoore. Fort Irwine, which is proximate to China Lake, offers many target sites and also an opportunity to co-train with ground forces. Fallon Nevada is close to the vast Nevada Test Ranges. Combining Lemoore and Fallon into one operation, would improve logistics and would saves millions of tax dollars.

We suspect that the Navy will keep its flights as far as possible from the Ventana Wilderness and the endangered Condors to the north. Considering the foraging range of these endangered birds, this will be impossible. Out of respect for the Catholic Church and because it is a place of prayer, the Navy will try to avoid passing near Mission San Antonio de Padua to the east. This is impossible, since the mission is only 5 miles from the target. The mission's bucolic setting will be turned into a virtual war zone. The Navy flights will avoid passing over the Big Sur, because it is a major tourist destination with political clout. That leaves our community of Bryson-Hesperia and the San Antonio Valley to the south and southeast to receive the negative brunt of these flights.

Fort Hunter-Liggett's primary mission has been to train ground forces. We believe it should remain so. A high-use bombing range would be a major change in the fort's mission. The thunderous roar of these attack aircraft is quantum leap in degrading the natural and cultural resources of the central coast the quality of life in our community. These aircraft should not train here. Fort Hunter-Liggett and the rich and fragile lands, which surround it, are not suitable for this of activity.

As one of our nation's peacekeepers, we ask the Navy to keep the peace of our community.

As a guardian of our democracy, we ask the Navy to respect our congressional and county representatives, who unanimously oppose this bombing range.

Thank you for your consideration,
Charles Ewing and Elizabeth Cecchi-Ewing
Bryson-Hesperia CA