Decibel noise levels of 125 and 120 were reached in areas of the Nisqually Reservation during the September testing of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord firing range. These levels were measured by Wilson Ihrig, an acoustics, noise and vibration measuring sound company and recorded side by side with JBLM sound monitoring technicians.
A level of 130 decibels is considered dangerous and able to cause pain. In Nisqually, buildings and windows shook, nerves were rattled and birds escaped to the sky during the testing.
Unseen negative effects of the HIMARS explosions might include harm to our salmon spawned during testing. We don’t know — and JBLM doesn’t either. It’s one of the many things that no one knows about when it comes to the effects on our fish and wildlife. Additionally, the number of firings would be many more during a training exercise.
We will push for a full environmental impact statement review to assess the effects on our wildlife and people.
One hundred years ago, Pierce County condemned 3,337 acres of Nisqually Indian Tribe land for a part of what has become Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In that time, we here at Nisqually have become accustomed to a diminished quality of life with cannon fire, helicopters, ground-pounding vibrations and now sonic-boom inducing aircraft that are destructive to our homes, structures and infrastructure. It’s life in a war zone.
We oppose moving this training from Yakima, where it is better suited, to a suburban area where many more people are affected. We have already spent $120,000 to move veterans, elders and young children out of the noise range twice.
We have had a good relationship with JBLM over the years but HIMARS training brings too much harm to our community. We will take this to the highest levels necessary to prevent it. We recognize the military’s responsibility and what they have to do, but we have a responsibility not only to our people, but to the water, fish and wildlife. We will continue to fight this move to bring front-line warfare to our backyards.
Farron McCloud is chairman of the Nisqually Indian Tribe.