Navy training proposal

Update June 21, 2022: “There will be no appeal of Judge Dixon’s decision. The commission’s months-long effort to accommodate the Navy’s request to continue Navy SEAL training at state parks has come to an end. It’s time for us to focus on getting ready for what we anticipate will be a record number of visitors in our parks this year. We are confident that the Navy will find alternative training sites, and we wish them the best of luck.“ - Mark O. Brown, Commission Chair

Update Jan. 29, 2021: The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4-3 to approve the Navy proposal at its regular meeting on Jan. 28.  During the meeting, staff introduced an amendment to their recommendations that added more stringent criteria for consideration, and the commission added their own as well. The new parameters will likely rule out many of the parks during the permit application process. State Parks does NOT have a list of which state parks will be permitted. Staff will begin the permitting process soon, and the process will be done incrementally on a park-by-park basis.  

 For more information, please view the news release.

SEPA review

Staff of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has issued a SEPA threshold determination for The United States (U.S.) Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) request to conduct special operations training at 28 state parks and found the proposal does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. Pursuant to WAC 197-11-350(3), the Navy’s proposal has been clarified, changed, and conditioned to include necessary mitigation measures.

The SEPA threshold determination and associated documents can be found here


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*This page will be updated periodically to include additional questions/answers as needed.

Is the Navy currently using State Parks for Special Operations training?
No. The Navy’s Right of Entry permit expired in May 2020

Does State Parks have the authority to permit Navy use of State Parks?
Yes. State law allows the Commission to govern state parks for both public recreation and public benefits if there is no direct conflict with laws. (RCW 79A.05.030(1)) 

Commission authority to cooperate with federal government agencies and issue permits to use state parks:
RCW 79A.05.070 

Commission administrative rules on the issuance of permits:
WAC 352-32-300 

Commission policy and delegation to staff to issue permits, including rights of entry:
•    25-07-1 Delegations of Authority for Real Estate Transactions & Service (authority delegated to Director from Commission).

•    Delegation of Authority Memorandum dated Sept. 16, 2013, revised Nov. 6, 2013. (Authority delegated from Director to Assistant Director)

Have there been any Navy personnel/trainee conflicts in the parks resulting from these trainings?
No. We are not aware of any conflicts between the Navy and the public during training’s in Washington state parks. The Navy has protocols in place to stop exercises if a member of the public enters the training area. 

Will State Parks be compensated by the Navy for training activities?
The Navy is responsible for paying the required application processing fee outlined in State Parks’ Real Property Agreement fee schedule. (WAC 352-32-300)

How does the Commission make decisions on these types of requests?
Commission decisions consider several factors including agency policy, staff recommendations, environmental review and public input. All decisions are made in an open public meeting. 

Does the Navy’s request include simulated munitions in state parks?
No. The Navy has not included the simulated building clearance training (which uses simulated munitions) in their application.

Does the Navy’s request include use of Unmanned Aircraft (drones) in the state parks?
No. The Navy has not included the use of unmanned aircraft systems in their application. 

Will State Parks conduct environmental review?
Yes. State Parks must consider the environmental implications of its decisions consistent with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Some decisions may be exempted from the statutory requirements of a threshold determination if they meet the criteria of either a statutory (RCW 43.21C) or categorial exemption (WAC 197-11-800). Agencies are not required to document categorical exemptions. An agency can adopt National Environmental Policy Act environmental documents for consideration under SEPA (WAC 197-11-610). However, State Parks has requested the Navy prepare a SEPA checklist as part of its request that Parks intends to issue a threshold determination. 

Can the public participate in this process?
Yes. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission welcomes and encourages public involvement. Comments can be provided electronically through the link on this web page, mailed into the address provided on this web page, or in person at any of the regularly scheduled commission meetings.

All comments will be provided to the Commission for consideration.