Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's hiking on Blanchard Mountain?

On Saturday, while hiking up the Pacific Northwest Trail toward Oyster Dome, I spent 90 minutes gathering 37 signatures on a petition asking Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark to establish a much larger conservation area (NRCA) than what's been proposed. (For more on the NRCA, see the blog entry for March 6 below.)

In those 90 minutes of ambling up the trail, chatting, nibbling and collecting autographs, I was amazed to be passed by about 80 hikers headed down, all of whom had obviously gotten a more respectable start than I. These were not organized groups, just friends and family enjoying the first day of spring.

While I was pleased that most of the trailsters I had a chance to speak with were happy to sign, what shocked me the most was just how far many of them had come to enjoy their day on the trail at Blanchard Mountain.

Of the 37 hikers who signed the petition, only six were from Bellingham. Just two lived in Skagit County. Three others were from Ferndale. That's 11 people--or 30 percent--whom I would consider "local."

Where were the others from? Seattle, mostly. Seattle and King County accounted for 17 (46 percent) of those 37 people who were concerned enough to sign the petition. One couple even came all the way up from Packwood, east of Centralia. Others were from Edmonds, Mill Creek and Oak Harbor. Later, I met someone from Vancouver, Washington, and several more from Colorado and Nevada who were visiting friends in the area.

I was amazed. When you do the math and consider all the trails at Blanchard Mountain--a splendiferous year-round trails destination--it's not unthinkable that 100,000 people may step foot on these trails over the course of a year.

And no, it certainly wasn't a scientific survey, but intriguing and enlightening, nontheless. For those who might think Blanchard Mountain is just a place for local hikers to kick up some dust, the mountain may be saying, think again.

You can help us save this place by donating to the cause today (then imagine the roar of 100,000 thank yous--good thing we're not all up there at once).

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