The Oyster Dome to be Clear-cut?

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One of the finest views in the Puget Sound lowlands may soon be seriously marred.

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 being considered for a large logging operation. A large segment of trails including a portion of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail may be seriously altered. This would be a shame for the hiking community and a slap in the face for the consortium of conservationists that worked hard a decade ago so this wouldn’t happen.

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 many 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 1,600-acre 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.


Lily Lake surrounded by mature second growth. Will it soon be surrounded by stumps?

In 2006 an agreement was reached with DNR that would prevent logging in this core. It was and still is supported by a wide consortium of stakeholders and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. The agreement to protect this core called for the State Legislature to provide appropriations necessary to purchase replacement lands that could be harvested. The Legislature to date has provided $6.5 million. But it is not enough.  $7.7 million in funding is still needed. And now 10 years later the deadline is nearing for the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement to be completed.

Without the additional funding, DNR won’t be able to purchase replacement lands and will be forced instead to log in the core area where so many of us recreate.  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.

Please write to your state legislators and urge them to allocate the additional $7.7 million in the 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget Bill for the purchase of replacement trust lands as outlined by the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement.

Help preserve and keep intact the 1,600-acre core surrounding Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain.

This is what I wrote in Day Hiking North Cascades 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.

Let’s see to it now that this plan comes to fruition. You can take action by clicking here and adding your voice to supporters of the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement.

56 responses on “The Oyster Dome to be Clear-cut?

  1. Mary Liddell says:

    Preserve the 1,600-acre core of Blanchard Forest for future generations to enjoy!

  2. E says:

    Do you have any links that might provide more information on the planned clearing? Or the Blanchard Forest Strategy? Or the call to action on this? Thanks!

  3. shirley morlan says:

    Please don’t cut this wonderful place. So much damage has already been done to this area.

    shirley morlan
    bellingham, wa

  4. Aaron mcintosh says:

    This would be horrible !
    Oyster Dome is “THE HIKE” I have taken friends from out of state when they visit. It just is that great mix of PNW that gives them a great taste of what we have here.

  5. john abenroth says:

    I’ve got an idea! How about all you people who find it so reprehensible that the state might harvest the timber on this land to benefit schools, etc.,, (the purpose for having the land in the first place), get together and collect the $7.7 million shortfall. Better yet, collect the entire $14+ million and give it to the DNR or buy the Oyster Dome property from the DNR. Then you will have your own private nirvana to manage and enjoy. (by the way, those trees won’t last forever, you will someday be trying to figure out what to do with the trees that are dying from disease or old age.)
    I don’t want to contribute to your enjoyment. The state agency is not called the Department of Natural Parks, it’s called the Department of Natural Resources!

    • Craig says:

      John, the truth hurts! I fully agree!

      • Craig Romano says:

        John and Craig-hate to break this to you but since around 1992, the DNR has been placing many tracts of its (our) land into natural resources conservation areas to be managed for recreation, wildlife and habitat protection. Natural Resources are managed for more than just timber production. Living in a democracy means that we have a say on how our lands are managed-and the best we can do is come to compromises and agreements based on the best uses of the land. In some cases–timber management is viable-in this 1600 acre core, it is not.

        • Clean Hippie says:

          Well said, but your factual reply will likely fall on the deaf ears of those unable to see the world for more than exploitation for profit.

    • Jim says:

      So head down to Lowes and pick up a few cartons of spikes and a small 3lb sledge hammer!

      • Nick Petrovich says:

        Why don’t you drive them spikes into your head you self righteous prick, better yet, contact me and I’ll help you with it
        Hurting hard working men won’t help anything. Do you work?
        360 391 9878

      • Erik Coburn says:

        This is not the right solution, Jim. I’m not sure if your comment is tongue-in-cheek or not.

        Loggers are hardworking folks. You probably live in a house made of mostly wood. Wood has been used in the construction of a large percentage of the buildings we live in, work in, worship in, and beyond. It is also a relatively sustainable material.

        This dilemma we are in can be solved through the proper channels, not violence.

        I operate a chainsaw occasionally and would not want to ever hit metal with it. It could be deadly.

    • Jarod says:

      I’ve got an idea…. how about all of you who are okay with deforestation go to the adult education department of your local school district, and take the remedial science classes that cover the whole bit about plant respiration?
      Clear-cutting 1600 acres of forest is a pretty stupid idea, no matter what the cause is. For a lot of reasons.
      Also, with the fiscal shell games our government plays, if you think education is going to see a dime of that money, you’re kidding yourself. It’s probably going to end up in a pork-spending bill, spent on a useless government contract for someone’s pet project, or dumped directly into the corporate welfare coffer (subsequently put in some CEO’s pocket).

      Logging is fine. I’m a conservationist, not an environmentalist. I understand that we need the lumber industry. But clear-cutting is always excessive and ridiculous.

    • Erik Coburn says:

      It isn’t a “private” nirvana now, so even if we banded together to keep this from happening, it would continue to be what it is now: a public area.

      Also, that forest just might last forever or at least a long, long time if left untouched. Have you been do a pristine old growth forest? It does just fine on its own and doesn’t need human management.

  6. NitaLisa Jorgenson says:

    Leave this place alone. I’m sure there are other areas that could be cut that are less accessible for the general population.

  7. Jim says:

    Leave it alone!! that place is beautiful and needs to be preserved!!!

  8. Peter Tennigkeit says:

    Please do not log this central gem. Blanchard has the potential to serve as an example of how forests can serve multiple purposes for all people, if we’ll all show a bit of respect. This area is such a local favorite that I doubt those trees will go down without a great deal of opposition from their human friends

  9. Elanos Mansker says:

    The DNR may be forced to log by WHO?

    • Administrator says:

      The legislature-as they are mandated to generate so much logging revenue-hence the reason why other lands are needed to replace the 1600 acres that we are hoping to get off of the chopping block.

      • Isaac Marion says:

        Mandated by WHO?

        • Administrator says:

          Legislature sets mandates for funding thresholds. Conservation Northwest which deals more with the policy side can give you a better breakdown on how the system is run.

      • Allen says:

        ‘the legislature is mandated to generate so much logging revenue’: this is why all the old growth and pristine forest in the US has been cut down.

        A tree is a living creature – these could grow to be older than the oldest human. What the hell kind of right do we think we have to do this kind of thing??

        Evolve, people. Find a new income source that doesn’t destroy the environment!

        One place to look for alternate logging revenue might be Colorado – many of their trees are dying from invasive pine beetles and actually need to be cut down. Washington’s forests, on the other hand, are some of the most biodiverse in the country (the ONLY actual rainforest in the country), and already only a tiny remnant of what was once a much larger and older forest.

  10. Bob Worley says:

    DNR by law is obligated to manage for multiple uses, not just revenue for schools. The public (us) is pitted against logging and our under funding of education of our children due to corporate welfare tax breaks that the Republican state senate refuses to correct. Get rid of the corporate welfare and public education will be funded. Corporate welfare in the state of Washington is in the low billions annually. Hold the legislators responsible.

  11. Bryan Smith says:

    Leave Oyster dome alone, it’s a beautiful place to explore! That’ll crush so many people

  12. Ken says:

    Chop it down just to see the liberals cry. They are all for saving a tree or animal but support abortion. Apparently killing a child is less offensive then chopping trees down that can be replanted.

    • Clean Hippie says:

      Did your mother not love you as a child?

      • ken says:

        Trees are a resource for us to use. GOD created them for us to cut down and use. I believe in replanting. Do you know that 1 tree produces enough oxygen for 10 years in just 1 year? Also trees and plants eat carbon. Research shows the more carbon the more oxygen is created. This whole go green movement is a lie. There is no such thing as a carbon foot print. It is true though that the bigger the lie the more people believe it. If people would just open their minds!

        • Erik Coburn says:

          How to you know God created trees for us to cut them down?

          Help me open my mind to understand that.

          • Administrator says:

            So many things wrong with the OP’s post. Assumptions that only liberals care about the forest and that all who do also support abortion-which has absolutely no relevance to this topic. And so much anger too. Please spend some time in the woods and find some inner peace/

        • Chris says:

          Ken, everything you think you know is wrong. Believe it or not the trees are not the problem.

    • Erik Coburn says:

      This is really a mean-hearted post Ken. The issue at hand here has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. I oppose the clear cutting of this area, and I used to work in the lumber industry. Furthermore, how do you know my stance on abortion? Or anyone’s for that matter?

      II cannot speak for God – nobody really can in my humble opinion. However, my vision of God does not entail the anger you put forth with statements such as, “Chop it down just to see the liberals cry.”

      Surely you can admit there might be another solution to this quandary, but to come up with it, we humans have to work together to figure it out, not antagonize each other into a stalemate.

      As it turns out, I tend to feel closest to God when I am at places like the summit of Oyster Dome. I don’t know if you have been up there, but it is a splendid place. God’s Country, as they say. I would like to go for a hike up there with you and discuss a constructive course of action to help solve this dilemma, if you have the time.


  13. Michael McInnis says:

    Spent countless hours exploring the ‘Bat Caves’ with my teenage friends. The entire corridor over to Lake Samish should be preserved.

  14. Deborah says:

    Do we want houses there? What is the more sustainable option?

    • Administrator says:

      Houses aren’t going to be built there even if it is logged. DNR is sustainably logging-it just needs to be directed away from the 1600-acre core.

  15. Isaac Marion says:

    It would be easier to protest this if it made any sense. The DNR is the government? And they need funds from the Legislature (also the government) to purchase US forest land? So the government needs money from itself to buy land from itself? And somewhere in there are big timber companies making big profits that somehow fund public education? I’m lost.

    • Administrator says:

      DNR (state) is not purchasing federal land. It would be private timberland to remain in timber production. This purchase is actually good as it would assure that the newly purchased timberland remains in timber production and is not sold off for development. It all comes down to funding. All the players agreed to the compromise plan 10 years ago to protect this core-now the state needs to pay up so this deal can be sealed. And no big timber companies are making big profits here-much of the Blanchard State Forest logging is done by local operations benefiting local families and economies as well as proving revenue for state schools. The real issue would be to perhaps rethink the mandate of timber production for school funding and come up with better ways to fund education in the state.

      • Isaac Marion says:

        What is “private timber land”? Do private citizens own large sections of the mountains? Or do you mean land owned by timber companies? I’m trying to understand who is buying what from whom in this scenario. On the surface it sounds like we’re asking the state to pay timber companies not to clearcut our recreation land, which would be crazy so I hope I’m misunderstanding.

        • Erik Coburn says:

          Private or publicly-held companies do own vast tracts of timberland in this country. They are subject to less strict requirements in what they do with their land.

  16. Pam Granston says:

    Do not clear cut this beautiful piece of our planet. So much of our human Experiece is sharing space with everything of beauty. This a powerful way that so many of us Connect to the planet we all stand on. Do not take this Beaty from us!!

  17. Gavin Johnston says:

    People need to quit running their businesses for themselves and start running their businesses for the people around them. Cutting down all those trees isn’t a good idea. What are they gonna do, build more houses that are going to get foreclosed on?

  18. Aslan says:

    Seriously just stop using so much wood and we would not even have this discussion. If look at where most of it goes and all the waste it’s insane.

  19. Michael LaMartin says:

    Hey Craig- I’d love to get together with you to put this information and some more into the form of a video and photographic set. I think these are great, but a video/photoseries would definitely bolster some more attention and have a bit more “shareability” on different social platforms.

    Shoot me an email! I’d love to talk more about this and make something happen to get the community better engaged!

  20. Joshua says:

    Oh this beautiful system we have where we must pick between educating our children and keeping what’s left of this beautiful region intact.

  21. Ashley K says:

    Hey everyone who cares, I made a petition last night to “Save Blanchard State Forest from Clearcutting”

    Please sign because we need 100 signatures at least.

  22. Jenny Ervin says:

    For anyone who was confused reading this article (I’m looking at you, Isaac!), Conservation Northwest has a clearer, more concise article posted here:

    Basically, in the early 2000s, there were plans to log all of Blanchard State Forest for “state trust lands beneficiaries”, but in 2006, a “diverse group of stakeholders” created the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement. The agreement basically identified a 1600-acre zone that would be conserved for recreation and would not be logged. However, to conserve this land, DNR needed funding to purchase replacement lands to log. Thus far, Washington State Legislature has provided $6.5 million, but another $7.7 million is still needed and the deadline is quickly approaching (not sure when this deadline is). The Commissioner of Public Lands has requested the remaining balance to save Blanchard Forest, but the state legislators have not yet written it into the state budget (hence writing them to encourage them to). Essentially, the land could be saved by giving the DNR enough funds to purchase other land to log, and if we cannot pay up, then the area will be logged.

    In response to this: “It would be easier to protest this if it made any sense. The DNR is the government? And they need funds from the Legislature (also the government) to purchase US forest land? So the government needs money from itself to buy land from itself? And somewhere in there are big timber companies making big profits that somehow fund public education? I’m lost.”

    I totally understand your confusion, but you’re sort of correct. Basically, the land (owned by the government) was going to be logged, but a group of people intervened. The DNR agreed to conserve the land, but only if they were given money to purchase other land to log. So, this same group asked for funding from the Legislature to give money to DNR (yes, government giving government money) so that they could log a different area of land rather than this one. But, the same issue still remains that they did not get enough funding from the Legislature. I’m not totally sure where the “funds from timber harvesting in this forest goes toward education” thing comes from, but I hope the rest of this makes sense.

    Please know that I do not work for Conservation Northwest and do not know every facet of this issue. I also had trouble understanding what is really going on from this article. I do not claim to have all the answers, but am just trying to help clarify this article, from what I understand.

  23. Erik Coburn says:

    What I do not understand about this all is that how am I finding out about this just now. I hike, run, and mountain bike the Chuckanuts regularly and always thought it was protected. After all, that and Fragrace Lake are the two most popular hikes in the area. I guess this is all a moot point but I’m just surprised there weren’t any signs out there saying that the area was not protected and needed help.

    I’m going to write to our legislators and spread the word. Is there a meeting to be held about this soon?

    • Administrator says:

      Erik-there were signs all over Blanchard when I was up there on Sunday. Remember that Larabee is a state park and the adjacent land is Whatcom County parks and WA fish and game. Blanchard is DNR is that is where this applies. The northern part of the Chuckanuts are not affected by this.

      • Erik Coburn says:

        I normally access from the I-5 side via Incline Trail and Lily and Lizard. I guess I haven’t seen the signs. Oh well I emailed the legislators and am wondering if there are any hearings on the matter because I would like to attend. I have a packed schedule like everyone but would be interested in helping out in a small way at least. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have been spreading the word.

  24. Rod Billinghurst says:

    Sounds like step one is to cancel any existing agreement with the DNR and start over, preferably with a 3rd party investigation into why these state government agencies are making funds obligations pointing towards logging interests.

  25. Brittany says:

    Please do not do this. We need air not furniture or paper.

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