Growlers are detrimental | Guest column

by Susan Shannon

Orcas Island

About 35 people attended a meeting in Eastsound on Nov. 14 by the Sound Defense Alliance about the Growler issue.

Nearly all attendees reported being affected by the sound of the Growlers, some citing exacerbation of PTSD symptoms, physical disruptions such as visceral vibrations due to the low hum and sensitivity to the onslaught of electric and magnetic fields, but nearly all of us general anxiety about the constant rumble.

It is only going to get worse, according to presenters Larry Morrell and Rhea Miller. They outlined the grim picture of what is ahead for us if we don’t mobilize against it. Orcas Island is included in the area where the Growlers will be in a holding pattern until they can land, which will become more frequent as the flights increase. Bigger engines are being put into the existing Growlers; and an increase of flights has been approved.

Morrell and Miller presented information regarding health risks. This is not only an issue for the people who can hear them, also for all forms of life above and below the sea in this region. The low sound frequency does its damage whether you can hear it or not.

The potential environmental loss is monumental. Imagine our islands without bees, frogs, eagles, deer, owls. Where even livestock and pets suffer. Where the beautiful trees continue to die not from logging or drought but from the unregulated bombardment of EMFs from the unregulated number of Growlers flying over. Imagine our islands without salmon or orcas. They are already being affected, as the low rumble of the Growlers occurs at a low frequency, which has been measured up to 100 feet below the surface. Imagine our islands where one must wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones while outside.

Right now, people in Coupeville are forced into wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones inside of their own homes as the Growlers fly overhead.

Morrell and Miller presented hope as well. Regional groups across the Northwest are working together to inform their representatives of the problem. Veterans have come together to push for the return of quiet, peaceful skies. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy over the proposed expansion of Growler jet activity.

We all need to act now. This issue is so much more complex than simply the disruption of peace.

It is a violent threat to our entire environment. I hope everyone reading this will visit the Quiet Skies over San Juan County website at Watch the videos. Write postcards or letters, contact your officials and find ways you can to stand up to this assault, which is going to rob us of the lifestyle we need to continue to preserve.

To one man’s comment, “Who is the enemy here?” I say, can we as a community transcend that binary perspective? It is only us now — humans, feathered, fur, scales, leaves, etc. We’re all in this together.