During the training operation in southern Coronado last week, members of a 300-person Navy team responsible for moving combat troops and equipment from ship to shore and providing them with logistic support controlled the landing craft.
“It’s a realistic training environment, and by practicing in these conditions, we can get better and better at it,” said Cmdr. Todd Perry, commanding officer of Beachmaster Unit 1.
To meet heavier training demands, the Navy is proposing ramping up activity at the Silver Strand Training Complex, including more helicopter flights, firearm discharges and use of sensitive land. That has some residents and environmentalists worried about what it will mean to neighborhoods, delicate bird habitat and vernal pools.
The Navy is studying the environmental effects of increased use of the 540-acre site where land, beach and offshore wartime training has been conducted for more than 60 years.
According to a draft environmental impact statement, the Navy proposes to increase the frequency of training activities to 5,343 from 3,926 annually. The Navy hopes to increase the number of helicopter sorties to 2,200 from 778 a year and firearm discharges to 1,400 from 150. It plans to use, with some limitations, the nesting areas of endangered birds and allow training on foot over vernal pools when dry.
While some proposed changes may occur immediately, most would happen over the next several years.
The Navy is looking for public comment on its plan; it has the final say on how it addresses the effect of the increased training.
“The amount of extra training they’re proposing would be quite noticeable and really change our quiet neighborhood,” Imperial Beach resident Jeff Foster said. “If it makes a big impact on the peace of the neighborhood, it won’t be a desirable place to live.”
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