Saturday, March 6, 2010

Baby Steps: DNR Proposes a mini-NRCA for Blanchard Mountain

On February 24th, 2010, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark announced plans to establish a 1,600-acre Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) on Blanchard Mountain. While the NRCA is a positive, important step forward, the proposal contains nearly all of the shortcomings of the "management strategies" adopted by the previous commissioner in 2007. (The Conservancy challenged those strategies in lower court and won - more on that here.)

The DNR's press release acknowledges "amazing recreation opportunities, rich wildlife habitat and sweeping views” at Blanchard Mountain, then "amazingly" fails to offer a proposal that actually protects those values. The 1,600-acre NRCA proposed by DNR can't possibly provide the level of protection that's implied in the release.

The DNR's current NRCA proposal offers only token protection of a portion of the existing trail system. No meaningful wildlife corridors are provided, view protection is scant, and many miles of trails would be severely degraded, if not destroyed, by miles of new roads and large-scale logging across two-thirds of the mountain. The largest intact roadless area on the mainland coast of greater Puget Sound would essentially be frittered away.

Even the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, signed into law by President Obama just a year ago, is largely excluded from the NRCA, although the agency has agreed to protect the parking lot at Samish Overlook from logging.

The Conservancy has recommended a 3,100-acre NRCA, although the final area established may be somewhat less than that. The DNR's proposal must be submitted to the Legislature for consideration and approval. Funding will be a key issue, since the timber value of lands set aside as NRCA also needs to be accounted for. Given the tight economic situation we're in, funding issues will need to be addressed over the long-term.

Please email 40th District Senator Kevin Ranker to let him know you support a much larger NRCA at Blanchard Mountain: Ranker.Kevin@LEG.WA.GOV.

We applaud the DNR's willingness to consider the kind of permanent protection an NRCA can provide. Although the small size of the NRCA and the boundaries are major stumbling blocks, we believe these issues can be resolved if the DNR invites the public to participate in developing its NRCA proposal.

No comments:

Post a Comment