The Sun’aq Tribe and the Native Village of Afognak met with military representatives the day after a forum where the Navy assured the public it would not use all the weaponry and technology approved in its environmental impact statement for the training between June 15 and 26.
Tom Lance, the Sun’aq Tribe’s Natural Resources Director, says at that meeting he expressed concern that the Navy is legally able to perform the exercises listed in the EIS.
“My comment to them was ‘Well, hey, you got the license to drive 55, but yet you’re telling us you’re only gonna drive 25. Why should we believe you that you’re gonna drive 25?’” says Lance. “So, they responded that they will send a letter from the Alaska command who is in charge of Northern Edge 15 describing in detail what they would do. And we did receive that letter.”
Lance says he wonders what future training might include.
“The Navy went ahead and did what they planned to do at this reduced level, but next year will bring a whole new round,” says Lance. “So, [the] Sun’aq Tribe and [the] Native Village of Afognak did not agree to any level of Navy use for the Gulf of Alaska for anything that would cause destruction of the resource or impact on the resource, pollution of the resource.”
Lance says they discussed establishing a more open line of dialogue with the Department of Defense at the formal consultation between Native and military representatives.
“The result was that the DOD will do a better job of communicating with tribes and all residents of Kodiak Archipelago, and the Gulf of Alaska for that matter, on future training exercises.”
But Lance says the Sun’aq Tribe won’t be satisfied until the Navy can prove it’s not harming or affecting the oceans or their animal life.