It was nearly one year ago when I first reported to you that one of Puget Sound’s most popular hiking spots may soon succumb to clear cut logging. The Oyster Dome, the Pearl of the Chuckanut Mountains—the only place in the Cascades where the mountains meet the Salish Sea—is in very real danger of being marred by logging. You heard that correctly. Blanchard Mountain—home of the Oyster Dome—and host to a network of extremely popular trails including a portion of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail may soon be altered, degraded and blemished.
This would be a huge loss for the hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and trail-running community and a big slap in the face to the consortium of conservationists that worked hard a decade ago so this wouldn’t happen. In 2006 an agreement was reached with the WA DNR (which manages the property) that would prevent logging Blanchard Mountain’s core—which includes the Oyster Dome, North Butte and Lily and Lizard lakes. The agreement called for the State Legislature to provide appropriations necessary to purchase nearby replacement lands for the core that could instead be harvested.
However, by 2016 the legislature had only provided $6.5 million of the $14.2 million needed to purchase the replacement lands. The full funding needs to be complete by 2017, or the DNR which is mandated to provide revenue for schools and counties through timber sales would have to begin logging on Blanchard’s core. Last year, the conservation and recreation community rallied and put pressure on the governor and legislators to come up with the full funding to honor the decade old agreement, but unfortunately to not much avail.
Outgoing State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark fully embraced the Blanchard plan and full funding. Incoming State Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has given indications that she supports it as well. Evidently it is apparent through the Governor’s budget proposal, that Jay Inslee does not support this decade old agreement. Inslee’s budget includes only $1.5 million for Blanchard leaving a $5.7 million shortfall. If the legislature agrees to the governor’s budget and does not allocate full funding for Blanchard, you can expect the chainsaws to be buzzing around the Oyster Dome this summer!
What can we do to prevent this incredibly scenic and recreational landmark from being compromised? Put the pressure on the governor and your legislators! Please head to Conservation Northwest’s Blanchard Mountain page where you can find ways to help get the word out and put pressure on our government officials. Write a letter to the governor and/or your state reps or click here to send a message to them demanding full funding.
The legislature will be meeting soon to hammer out its Capital Budget. If they ax spending for Blanchard, expect chainsaws at one of Puget Sounds most beloved and scenic hiking areas by this summer. Can you imagine hiking through stumps to Lily and Lizard Lakes? Or peering out over a clear cut slope with logging landings and slash piles? One of the finest views in all of Puget Sound would be seriously marred. That would be a tragedy-and one that we can avoid.
Background and an explanation.
Yes, the Oyster Dome is within the Blanchard State Forest managed by the WA DNR for recreation, wildlife and timber production. Yes, I and most conservationists support this multiple use management in this forest. We realize that funds from timber harvesting in this forest goes toward education—and we are not opposed to logging in this forest. We’re opposed to logging in a small core section of this forest—the section that contains the Oyster Dome, two backcountry ponds, several trails and backcountry campsites. Here, recreation should be the highest management priority.
Please write to your state legislators and urge them to allocate the full $7.7 million in the 2017 Capital Budget Bill for the purchase of replacement trust lands as outlined by the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement.
This is what I wrote in my best selling Day Hiking North Cascades (Mountaineers Books) in 2008.
Rising from Samish Bay, Blanchard is the only place in the Cascades where mountain meets sea. A recreational and biological gem between Bellingham and Mount Vernon, much of this landmass was slated to be logged. But due to the work of Conservation Northwest and other local organizations a consensus of sorts has been reached with the Department of Natural Resources protecting Blanchard’s trails and guaranteeing that its core will remain in a natural state.