DNR Advocacy Alert! Baker to Bellingham Recreation Comments Needed!
As many know, there were two public DNR meetings last week (one in Kendall and one in Fairhaven) and it was great to see many of our community there to express your desire to recreate on our state forests in Whatcom County. This is the culmination of 2+ years of work by the DNR and a diverse Recreation Planning Committee. At last week’s meetings, the DNR showed two concepts for areas that could have authorized recreation in the future. Concept D and Concept E
Important: Neither of the two concepts is mutually exclusive and are rather designed to get input on what you like or don’t like from each concept.
If you couldn’t attend and want to express your support for mountain biking on these landscapes, please email the DNR at: BakertoBellingham@dnr.wa.gov
Key points you may want to let them know:
- Let them know you enjoy riding your bike (and other activities) out on trails in the forests.
- Areas you’d like to see mountain bike access to include: The North Fork of the Nooksack, Middle Fork of the Nooksack and the Mirror Lake and Stewart Mountain areas (connecting into Lake Whatcom Park).
- If you ride with your family/kids, let them know that’s important to your family as well.
- Wherever possible, the DNR should assess pre-existing trails (aka, non-designated) to determine if they can be brought to appropriate trail standards. Not only would this help jump start the trail construction, but it also could save a lot of money in the process.
- If you’d like to have a legal shuttle area, please let them know that.
- Do you own a business that benefits from people recreating in Whatcom County? If so, let them know that as well.
Marbled Murrelet and our Recreation Plan:
Many folks are unaware that the DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have concurrently been working on a Conservation Planning Process for a seabird called the Marbled Murrelet. You can read more about the Murrelet here.
In the Marbled Murrelet Conservation plan, it has primarily been looking at the logging of larger trees and the impact on nesting habitat for the birds. However, there was very little voice for recreation in this process which could make the construction of new trails in some parts of Whatcom County very difficult. As an example, large swaths of the North Fork and the Middle Fork have been removed from consideration. In areas around the state that already have authorized recreation and trails, those are being grandfathered into this plan. However, we have no authorized recreation in Whatcom County on DNR lands and so this may have a significant impact. As a result, the DNR has identified some large potential areas as “conditional” during the recreation planning process. That means that the “conditional” areas could only be considered for future recreation if they are NOT in final Murrelet approved areas.
What can you do? Please emphasize to the DNR that they and the US Fish and Wildlife Service need to look at how non-motorized trails are compatible with the Murrelet Conservation Strategy. For instance, we can create appropriate buffers from nesting sites, perform trail maintenance/construction during non-nesting season and can strategically locate trailheads and other infrastructure away from nesting areas to not attract predators. You can read the letter that the Baker to Bellingham Recreation Committee sent to the DNR about the Murrelet Conservation Strategy last March here.
Here is a link to the Baker to Bellingham Recreation Planning Page for future reference. Make your voice heard and ensure that the DNR knows the types of recreation you are looking for on DNR lands and where you’d like to recreate…your opinion matters!