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Bird Strike Study
Charles Dees
CCAJN Response

We have been reporting to you recently about a group of citizen activists in Beaufort County, North Carolina, who are attempting to upset the applecart by lobbying very aggressively to keep the Navy out of their communities and the surrounding region.
 
This group goes by the name Citizens Opposed to Outlying Landing Strips, otherwise known as COOLS.
 
In recent months, they have been hounding North Carolina officials on the matter of the Navy's proposed Outlying Landing Fields (OLFs).  Most ranking officials in North Carolina want to see some Super Hornet squadrons home-based at Cherry Point, and recognize the need for a new OLF.  

Unlike most of us in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, however, who are truly impacted, most of these Beaufort County folks live well outside the projected high noise zones of the two proposed OLF sites in neighboring Washington and Craven counties. 

Until now, it has not been well understood among many North Carolinians that if you live outside the 60 dB high noise contour of an OLF, you simply are not impacted by jet noise.  We know that well here, because we have lived with the Navy for many years.

 
As part of their campaign, the Beaufort county folks maintain two provocative Websites that contain a host of inaccurate and misleading information.  We also presume that this is the same rhetoric that they are feeding their elected officials.

For political and public relations reasons, many North Carolina officials who should know better have remained silent in the face of this onslot of misinformation, hysteria, and fear.  Worse yet, many appear to be caving in to the demagoguery and are being influenced by the factual misrepresentations of COOLS leadership.

And so, CCAJN has chosen to challenge the Beaufort county campaign, in the interest of factual and balanced dialogue about what has truly become a regional (if not a national) issue. 

While CCAJN acknowledges the legitimate right of COOLS to oppose Navy efforts to build an OLF in neighboring Washington or Craven Counties because of impacts that would extend beyond county boundaries, such opposition (as practiced by COOLS) amounts to a disservice to the Navy, when COOLS rhetoric concerning these impacts becomes irresponsibly exaggerated, far out of proportion to the actual projected consequences.

The result, if not the intention of COOLS' effort, is to generate fear and anxiety in the general population - apprehension unjustified by the circumstances of the Navy's proposals. This angst, we presume, is intended to manipulate public opinion to gain political support.   The best way to confront the disingenuousness of the COOLS is simply to provide a few examples.

Example:  The COOLS website claims that 4347 students and staff at six schools are in the high noise zones and will be impacted by high noise.  In fact, West Craven Middle and Vanceboro Elementary [in Craven County, not Beaufort County], Chocowinity Middle and Chocowinity Primary [in Beaufort County] --  lie outside the projected high noise zones of the proposed Craven OLF site.
 
Further, while Craven County High School appears to be on the boundary of the lowest noise zone boundary (<60 dB), the Navy indicates in the DEIS that no schools are within high noise zones.  And, the new Chocowinity Southside High School (Beaufort County), contrary to COOLS' assertion, is situated well outside the 60 dB noise contour.   Consequently, impacts at both these schools are expected to minimal or negligible.

The EPA and the FAA consider the 65 dB contour (as opposed to the even quieter 60 dB contour) to separate high noise areas from areas where noise is considered acceptable. 

On the other hand, in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, 17 schools are identified as being within the greater than 65 dB noise zones, 9 of which are in the 70 dB and greater noise zones and 2 in the greater than 80 dB.  Further, the Navy does not identify the 60-65 dB noise zone in the DEIS for the areas around NAS Oceana and NALF Fentress in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  Consequently, the number of schools in this area is not enumerated.

Example:  The COOLS website claims that "105 businesses and 1000 households with approximately 4000 persons will be impacted in Vanceboro" and that "4285 church congregation members will be directly affected by the proposed Craven OLF."  In fact, Vanceboro itself (in Craven County, not Beaufort County) is well outside the lowest (60 dB) noise contour.  Consequently, the average noise level should be nearly ambient in this area.

Further, only one church (there are some 23  in Vanceboro alone) is identified in the DEIS as being in a noise zone - the lowest (60-65 dB) noise zone.   Further, a church in rural North Carolina with a congregation of 4285 parishioners (as would seem to be the claim of COOLS) is, indeed, very impressive.  Further, it has long been the practice of the Navy not to conduct routine flight operations at either Oceana or Fentress during Sunday morning religious services.  This would be likely the case with any OLF.

Finally, in a letter representing COOLS that appears at http://www.thecravenvoice.com/forum.htm< (containing much inaccurate and misleading information), COOLS claims that "[g]rowth in this area [Beaufort, Washington, and Craven Counties] will come to a stop" and" would be lethal to the affected Tier One counties."
 
While CCAJN acknowledges that some misgivings associated with OLF proposals are legitimate, it is also true that Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are and will be far more impacted than would be the case for areas around the proposed OLF sites, yet growth and economic expansion here has continued -- even within the highest noise zones (which, indeed, is one of our problems).
 
Consequently, there is no credible argument that justifies COOLS making such unfounded statements - except, of course, to scare people.

Certainly, there will be people affected in North Carolina at any of the proposed sites that might ultimately be selected.  However, it is not helpful to this country or to the Navy to embellish the impacts merely to support a particular agenda.
 
Let the chips fall where they may, based upon an objective assessment of the facts.  Myths and misrepresentations intended to encourage unwarranted levels of apprehension in order to engender political support do not reflect well on COOLS.

Truth is a much better companion.