" ... a misconception conveyed in the media related to the bombing range proposal. Although what the Navy is proposing is new, (not to mention absurd), the ongoing disruptive military maneuvers in this area are not. The peace and tranquility has been compromised for years--the Navy bombing range is only the most intensive and extensive of many proposals being advanced by the military. Usually the activity extends from April through October of each year. This last year, however, was unusually active and the time frame for this activity clearly has extended beyond previous years. We believe this intensification is deliberate and designed to establish a pretense that this base, in the center of the most remote region of California, is an important facility when it is not. In the base closure and realignment process, it was largely decommissioned, then passed to the National Guard, then to the Reserves, who now serve as its general custodian. Anyone who has studied a map of California realizes that the degree of land militarization in this state is absurd given the growing population and dwindling areas of open space. The true conversion of this base to public open space and protected wilderness use can and should be accomplished in the near term to balance the population growth in the state. There are other locations in less sensitive areas for all of the activities on-going at this base.
It was our awarenes of the inappropriateness of the current military uses that prompted our group to investigate plans for the base for this upcoming year. We learned that we should only expect for the scheduling of various planned military uses to increase. The representation to the public (through conventional medias sources) that the base was "decommissioned" in 1995 was misleading. From the lay persons perspective, it looks like the space is being "rented out" to different branches of the armed services for various kinds of uses. For hikers, hunters, recreational users and wildlife, there have been enormously distressing and irresponsibly low fly overs within the Base MOA [military flight operations area] (which extends from Point Sur South to Cambria and inland from Salinas to Paso Robles). These abuses have included helicoptors hugging the Nacimiento River Valley and the coastal Big Sur mountains and high tech bombers performing low and high altitude flyovers. In addition, the surrounding inhabitants of this extraordinary wilderness are routinely treated to the sounds of tanks shooting rounds of artillery into the surrounding golden hills. It can be reliably cacophonous during "high season" which coincides with the period of greatest public use of the region. In addition, with the increasing concern over depleted uranium tipped ammunition used in Europe and Arabia, some attention to this issue here is of concern since the Ventana wildreness watersheds ultimately descend into the Salinas Valley and our drinking water and farmlands.
So, we plan to continue to focus awareness on what is both proposed currently AND what has ALREADY been going on for some time now. Check the web site: www.ventanatrust.org for further updates.
Charles Rowley and Steven Craig