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Military exercises expanded along coast

The Navy will hold public meetings this week in Fort Bragg and Eureka to discuss its controversial warfare training exercises off the Northern California coast.

Rep. Mike Thompson requested the meetings about the Navy's recently expanded military exercise program, which critics fear will harm marine wildlife and pollute the ocean.

The Navy contends it does everything possible to reduce harm to wildlife and the ocean.

About 90 percent of its training activities take place in Washington, primarily in the Puget Sound area. The training area stops just north of Mendocino County.

Thompson said he wants the Navy to address concerns of North Coast residents.

"A highly trained Navy, transparency regarding planned activities off our coast and protection of marine life are not mutually exclusive," he said in a statement.

The Navy recently won approval for expanding its activities, which include submarine and airplane operations and testing of sonar, minefields and bombs.

Nearly 100 Mendocino County residents attended a meeting last year on the expansion prior to its approval.

Navy officials will answer questions about the Northwest Training Range complex, one of 13 training and testing areas.

It includes more than 126,000 square nautical miles of ocean, 34,000 square nautical miles of airspace and 875 acres of land between Washington and California.

The first meeting will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Wharfinger Building, 1 Marine Way in Eureka. The second will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Pentecost Hall, 822 Stewart St. in Fort Bragg.


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