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Naval Base Point Loma’s Ongoing Environmental Efforts

by Ava Lantis

Naval Base Point Loma

Naval Base Point Loma strives to focus on the environmental sector in order to protect and conserve its neighborhood. Recently, the Navy’s environmental team worked tirelessly to build an underwater reef composed of the remnants of a demolished fuel pier. While it was at one time considered dangerous and polluted, the unique location now holds an oceanic ecosystem that has a lot to offer.

The inclusion of the reef exhibits the continued efforts in restoring CO2 levels that are sustainable for humans. Eelgrass has increased nearly 1000% since the restoration began, and several fish species have already been observed. The project was in honor of Navy biologist, Mitchell A Perdue, who passed away in 2018. In addition, they’ve created a sandy beach out of a rocky one, which will benefit the community.

More recently, there was a proposal to increase training sites that could potentially impact the community of Point Loma. The Point Loma Association (PLA) was initially caught off guard with the very sudden warning. Once the Navy was made aware of their unease, they reassured the people.

“I know there are supporters, and I think they trust the Navy to make the right decisions for the community,” Lance Murphy with the PLA said in response to the Navy’s brief statement. He highlighted that their intentions weren’t to stall their timeline, but that they needed more time available to examine the environmental assessment.

Sites that include explosive exercises have especially raised concern to the general public. However, the operations also require consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Coastal Commission. With that, there is still room for discussion and improvement.

Navy helicopter passes downtown (Howard Lipin)

Murphy’s major concerns are traffic in the area, communication defects by the Navy, unfair opportunities for review, and the general well being of Point Loma. The assessment contains information that is consistent with current practices, in addition to helicopter training and would only occur up to three times a year and not outside normal work hours. A negative impact on civilian life is also unlikely taking into account the approximate received sound levels from explosive devices.

Public safety director at Point Loma Nazarene University, Mark Ryan, states that the testing is “barely audible in classrooms, or not at all.” The campus also happens to be closest to detonation. Consistently, the noise hasn’t affected PLNU activity, according to Communications Director Lora Fleming.

The Navy has also taken steps to eliminate traffic complications. The only increase in personnel will be arriving and departing by boat, so traffic won’t be affected by the operation.

Before making any decisions on the environmental assessment, the Navy will thoroughly review public comments. Their attentiveness to the public and continued efforts remain valuable.

Former D.O.D. Regional Environmental Counsel Mary Kay Faryan, whose job it was to advise the Navy on how to comply with environmental law at the state and local level, outlined the specific steps the Navy takes in engaging with the community on environmental issues.

"Naval Base Point Loma Commanding Officer holds Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings at the Southwestern Yacht club with regulatory agencies and members of the public. The meetings are held the 3rd Thursday of the month, starting at 18:00 and clean up actions of historically contaminated sites are discussed. Members of the public are encouraged to attend, learn about the work going on at the base and provide their input. Additionally, the Navy publishes its environmental impact analysis and provides notice to the community of such publication, Soliciting comments on specific activities on the base that could impact the environment under the National Environmental Policy Act, or N.E.P.A. The Navy has an obligation to respond to such comments. Each base has a public affairs officer who is responsible for engaging with local media, including maintaining a Facebook page highlighting activities, and is available for questions. Each base also has a Community Planning Liaison Officer (C.P.L.O) who attends recurring meetings such as the Point Loma Association, Point Loma People for Progress, Point Loma Rotary Club, and SANDAG, and are also in touch with local Town Council members. The C.P.L.O. is a liaison for activities occurring out in town and those happening on base."

In fact, the Naval Base Point Loma’s number one priority is to protect its people, resources, and environment from all threats. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was the first crucial environmental law in the United States and the local base has been ensuring conservation since its establishment in 1998.


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