Advocacy Alert! Help Save 1,600 Acres on Blanchard Mountain
In 2007, the DNR, along with recreation and conservation groups worked out an agreement that would set aside 1,600 acres on Blanchard Mountain from any future logging. An integral part of that agreement was to secure funding to purchase similar lands near Blanchard to reimburse the trusts (which support Skagit and Burlington-Edison schools) and to ensure those lands remain as working forests.
The time frame to secure funding for the the Blanchard Forest Strategy Agreement (see below for more information) that would protect 1,600 core acres on Blanchard Mountain recently expired. This core area includes the Oyster Dome, Lily and Lizard Lakes, and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.
To date, the legislature has supported Blanchard with $6.5 million; however, an additional $7.7 million is needed to complete the purchases of core zone replacement lands. If DNR does not receive this funding now, the integrity of the Agreement will be gone and the Strategy will no longer be implementable. Years of partnership and the shared vision for the forest will be lost. The DNR is committed to implement the Strategy but will not be able to do so without the remaining $7.7 million from the legislature. Without your help, the future of the core 1,600 acres on Blanchard Mountain is uncertain as much of it will return to active forest lands. Read more about the agreement in the DNR’s fact sheet.
TO HELP SAVE BLANCHARD’S CORE 1,600 ACRES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS BY FEBRUARY 10TH AND URGE THEM TO FULLY FUND THE BLANCHARD FOREST STRATEGY AGREEMENT. To find your district, you can search here.
40th Legislative District:
Email Senator Kevin Ranker or call (360) 786 – 7678
Email Representative Kristine Lytton or call (360) 786 – 7800
Email Representative Jeff Morris or call (360) 786 – 7970
42nd Legislative District:
Email Senator Doug Ericksen or call (360) 786 – 7682
Email Representative Vincent Buys or call (360) 786 – 7854
Email Represenative Luanne Van Werven or call (360) 786 – 7980
Chairs of the Respective Capital Budget Committee
Email Representative Steve Tharinger (24th Legislative District) or call (360) 786 – 7904
Email Senator Jim Honeyford (15th Legislative District) or call (360) 786 – 7684
Additional Ranking Members on Capital Budget Committee
Email Representative Derek Stanford (1st Legislative District) or call (360) 786 – 7928
Email Senator Karen Keiser (33rd Legislative District) or call (360) 786 – 7664
Suggested Comments (personalize and share your own experience):
- Blanchard Mountain is a unique forest and one of the most beloved places in Puget Sound with amazing access for recreation with great proximity to Larrabee State Park and Whatcom County parks lands.
- The Blanchard Forest Strategy Agreement is a good solution for recreation, conservation, natural resource industries, and the local economy.
- Please fund the Blanchard Forest Strategy Agreement with the remaining $7.7 million needed to protect all 1,600 acres in the CORE area.
Blanchard Mountain is beloved and well-used for recreation, respite, and exploration. It separates the increasingly populated Skagit and Whatcom counties. Tens of thousands of people visit Blanchard’s trails each year to ride horses, hang glide, hike, mountain bike and watch birds and other wildlife. The hike to the Oyster Dome is one of the most popular in all of Puget Sound and you can see lines of cars parked along Chuckanut Drive every day of the year.
Blanchard Mountain is also very special natural habitat. It features lakes and rivers with a native run of salmon and sea run cutthroat trout in Oyster Creek; owls, murrelets and woodpeckers; the famous bat caves, deer; mushrooms; and territorial views to the San Juan Islands and to Mount Baker and the Cascades. Remnants of old growth and stately, mature trees remain or have naturally regenerated. This type of forest is quickly disappearing in the low elevations of Western Washington. Blanchard Mountain is the only place along Washington’s Coast where the forested Cascades connect to salt water.
Blanchard Mountain is one of many valuable state trust lands – public forests managed by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR had planned to log the entire mountain in order to provide revenue to its beneficiaries which include Skagit County and the Burlington-Edison School District. Providing revenue to the beneficiaries is required by law thus for years DNR did not believe it had any options. But many of us wanted to protect Blanchard and its forests. Others were concerned about losing the forestry base locally and thus were not supportive of large-scale conservation of Blanchard. After years of discussions and threats, DNR came up with a solution. In 2006, the DNR convened a group of diverse interests, including Skagit Land Trust, Conservation Northwest, The Back Country Horsemen, Friends of Blanchard Mountain, Skagit County as well as highly-regarded representatives from Industry, Forestry and local communities in Skagit County. DNR asked this group to create a management plan for Blanchard’s forests that could satisfy the needs of all with interests at stake. It took two years of hard work and the result was the 2008 Blanchard Strategies Group Agreement.
This collaborative agreement recommended that a 1,600 acre core area be permanently protected. This core protects most of the recreational and sensitive natural resources such as the top of Blanchard including the Oyster Dome, trails, Lily and Lizard lakes and oldest forest habitat. The other two thirds of Blanchard were to remain working forest. Meanwhile, to replace the core, DNR with assistance from the Strategies Group was to seek funding from the WA State Legislature to purchase nearby private forestland that are at risk of conversion to residential use. These replacement lands would be used for continued forest activities. The concept was that this would protect the sensitive core of Blanchard, enable the trust beneficiaries to continue receiving revenue, and ensure retention of timber jobs. The MOU gave 5 years to satisfy this agreement, later updated to 7 years due to the Economic downturn.
The Public Land Commissioner at the time, Doug Sutherland, accepted the recommendations and the Washington State Legislature has shown their support over the course of four legislative sessions by providing $6.5 million of the $12 million (now $14.2 million due to inflation and updated timber appraisals) in appropriations necessary to fund the replacement land purchases. Since 2008, the Blanchard Strategies Group have continued to work with the Legislature to ensure the fiscal needs of the Agreement are fulfilled.