Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Stands of Any Significant Size of Roadless Woods

©Paul K. Anderson

In this photograph, Interstate 5 traverses along and through the Chuckanut Range.

In the lower left is Bellingham's Lake Padden Park, further south is Lake Samish.  On the left of I-5 is the Lookout Mountain/Galbraith area well known for mountain biking.  Extreme upper left is Mt. Baker National Forest. On the lower right to upper right is the Larrabee State Park/Blanchard Mountain/DNR complex - the Chuckanut Range.

The importance of this area, as a reminder, is that this is the only area of any significant size that contains roadless tracts of forest between Vancouver, British Columbia and Olympia, Washington. An area that has a population base of millions of people. The Chuckanut Range also sits directly on the Salish Sea. It is the start of a mostly forested corridor between the Salish Sea and the heart of the North Cascades.

It is not wilderness. Much of it has been harvested several times.  But to allow logging to continue would require additional logging roads which would create additional problems over the years for water quality in the area.  A fairly recent logging operation on the northeast side of the Blanchard complex caused significant runoff flooding and silting in Lake Samish.  There was property damage.

One of the buzz words/phrases used is that it will be a sustainable "working" forest.  Sustainable is a moving target.  There is no proof that this area can be logged repeatedly and then someday suddenly return back to its earliest status and still provide the other significant ecosystem services if left alone from today on.

There is a working group that defines what tracts will and won't be logged.  It is not representative of many people.  It is represented by the timber industry, the DNR, government, and one environmental advocacy group.  Surveys show that by an overwhelming percentage that people want this area to not be logged, to not be a "working" forest.

Income from timber sales goes to school districts and for public safety but the percentage of their budget these agencies glean from timber sales in the Chuckanuts and on Blanchard is minute.
More money is generated by recreational usage of this area than by any other source.

There is more value in other ecosystem services than the sale of and harvesting of trees.

10/30/2010 Active Logging Operation in the Chuckanut Range

All photos ©Paul K. Anderson

Surrounded by Larrabee State Park and DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources Land) this active logging operation has added several short segments of logging road to the Chuckanut Range.

Logging Road on Steep Slope - Lookout Mountain

©Paul K. Anderson

Lake Samish and Chuckanut Range in background

©Paul K. Anderson

Friday, October 29, 2010

When We Were Fishers on Puget Sound

Puget Sound used to have a viable fishery. Farms dominated the landscape between Seattle and the towns and villages outside the city.  The city of Bellevue had farms near Bellevue Square.  There were many dairies near Snohomish and Monroe.

Mt. Vernon and Burlington had very few auto dealers and RV sale lots.

Marysville, Arlington, Smokey Point, Puyallup's south hill, North Bend had few if any strip malls or big box stores. Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Lynden had distinct, seperate identities and personalities.

Progress happens.  But has anyone noticed that it appears that every major intersection and exit on our interstate system in the Salish Sea watershed is becoming more and more the same? And the general response is that this is good because it is so convenient for us to go shopping and spend.

Build, build, build and over build even tho it lowers property values for everyone.

Spending as a Pavlovian response to the barrage of marketing and advertising that hits us in every form of communication. And that there are Pavlovian responses to buzz words that are thrown at us in these forms of communication  - freedom, constitutional rights, safety, liberty, over regulation?

Has anyone noticed that anytime anyone wants to try and preserve, to conserve, to protect wetlands, small tracts of forests, watersheds or areas of immense beauty the immediate response by well organized and funded opponents are buzz words that elicit an almost pavlovian response and opposition, even if it goes against these individuals own best interests in the long run.

Has anyone noticed that civil discourse seldom takes place anymore that any public discussion is almost always dominated by emotionally charged citizens saying these same buzz words over and over and over and little discussion takes place on what really matters most to us as individuals?

Are we all becoming puppets to marketeers and PR firms hired by well funded special interest groups?

We spend millions trying to restore salmon habitat and those efforts are negated by huge mudslides and poor corporate forestry practices and small governments that allow building in historic flood plains but there is no government or corporate accountability and we as individuals pay in the form of subsidies or taxes or higher insurance fees?

What will this area look like in 30 years?  Will there be small tracts of land like the Chuckanuts available for clean water, salmon habitat, clean air, recreation, a place to be alone.  Or will there be a Pavlovian opposition even when its against one's own best interests?

Has anyone even noticed?

When We Were Fishers on Puget Sound  - 1979    ©Paul Anderson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The View from Blanchard Mt. - British Columbia

Logging continues in the Chuckanut Range today! Trucks are removing timber and delivering to mills on a daily basis right now!

It can't be emphasized enough that within eyesight of Blanchard Mountain and the Chuckanut Range live almost 7 million people.  It is projected that within 50 years the population will increase to 11 million.

In this early summer view from Blanchard Mt. at the southern end of the Chuckanut Range, you can see north into British Columbia.  Notice the large cranes for loading and unloading ships near Vancouver, B.C.?  Click on the photograph to enlarge it in your viewer.

The Salish Sea from the Chuckanut Range ©Paul Anderson

Here is another view of a clearing winter storm from the same, easily accessible location, (it's a short several mile drive from I-5 at the Alger Exit)  looking west into the San Juan Island Archipelago.

Samish Island and the San Juan's from the Chuckanut Range ©Paul Anderson
The ecosystem services provided yearly by the Chuckanut Range, including clean water, carbon sequestration, and recreational benefits far outweigh the short term economic benefits of logging.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The View from Blanchard Mt. - Three Islands

Orcas, Lummi, and Eliza Islands are bathed in light from a wonderful sunset.

©Paul Anderson

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cool, Clear, Water!

Think historically of the Cascade Range and you think of logging. Over the last 100+ years virtually every acre of public land has been logged, or threatened with logging - except for those areas that were economically not profitable to harvest. Some of that remaining land was used for the expansion and development of the National Park and wilderness systems. Today, many leading scientists and former officials of the U.S. Forest Service recognize that the number one ecosystem service of public lands, will not be timber harvesting or grazing, but the year round availability and slow release of clean water.

Think of the ecosystem services that have been provided by the Chuckanut Range in the past, now, and what will be most important in the future. The watershed surrounding the Salish Sea from Olympia in the south to approximately 1/2 way up Vancouver Island and directly across on the mainland of British Columbia will increase in population from 7 million to over 11 million. What will happen as global warming becomes more of a reality and there is a mass exodus of environmental refugees from around the globe to areas less effected - I'm suggesting areas surrounding the Salish Sea. 11 million could become 12, 13 or 14 million.

Think about what ecosystem services will be most important and provided in part by the Chuckanut Range 25, 50 and 100 years from now. Timber for housing? Land for housing development? Or will it be clean water for drinking and agriculture use? Salmon and wildlife habitat? A small corridor of land for access to the main Cascade Range, a migratory stop over for Swans, Geese and other birds? An easily accessible recreational area in the middle of 7, 10, 11 or 14 million people? All of these issues need to be discussed openly - with transparency. 

For the common good.

Small cascades in the Cascade Range ©Paul Anderson

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chris Cullers Perspective From Above the Chuckanut Range

Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation.  Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others.  It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.  ~K.O. Eckland, "Footprints On Clouds"

Editors note:  On Oct.1  Chris Culler and several friends launched from Blanchard Mt.  While in the air these pilots experienced an extraordinary sunset. An obviously fine pilot Chris is equally artistic and is able to capture the essence, the feeling of flight with these wonderful photos that he has agreed to share with us.  Thanks Chris!

©Chris Culler
A little about me:  I have been day-dreaming about flying my whole life.  I imagined flying ultralights, planes, helicopters and such, but every turn to make that dream into reality was thwarted by costs.  It was one such blow in 2002 that lead me to hang gliding.  My brother, Jimmy, had been flying hang gliders for 8 years, and told me how little he had expended to get started.  I did some research into hang gliding and paragliding that winter.  The next spring (2003) I hired myself a USHPA-rated instructor, and in early summer I made my first solo altitude flights at Blanchard Mountain.  Seven years, hundreds of flights, and hundreds of flying-hours later, I made that flight in which you see the pictures.  Flying with me in those photos are Jimmy Culler (my brother), Darren Fox, and Ben McBroom.  I now live in Mount Vernon with my wife, Christine Nidd.  She is also a hang glider pilot.  We met 2 years ago at the Chelan Cross Country Classic hang gliding competition, and she beat me!  It's OK though, because I beat her the year after that, and then I married her.  :o)  At this point in our lives we could easily afford the cost of a private pilot's certificate, but why bother?  When you feel the wind in your face, soaring thousands of feet high, for hours on end, and it all starts with an un-powered foot-launch from a grassy mountainside,'s as close as you can get to flapping your arms.  
©Chris Culler

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oyster Run Motorcycle Rally

The annual Oyster Run - a motorcycle rally - was held in late September.  As many as 25,000 motorcyclists attend.  Many cyclists travel through and around the Chuckanut Range with stops at local businesses in Bellingham, Alger, Blanchard, Chuckanut Drive and Edison.

Because of the wet conditions I spent a few hours on Chuckanut Drive and in Edison. Here are a few images from that morning.

All photos ©Paul Anderson  Oyster Creek Passes under Chuckanut drive

Abandon boats Samish River

Pilings near Blanchard

No sense lighting it with the ride so wet

Asked to appear mean, this friendly Canadian gives me his Popeye look

Artisan Breads and Pastries from the BreadFarm

The friendly confines of the Longhorn served smoked whole roasted pig, oysters steamed and raw.

The Chuckanut Range - important to so many diverse groups of activities, interests and people.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Return of Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeters Near Blanchard, Wa ©Paul Anderson

In the Pacific Northwest we have our share of rainy, dank days.  At times, the grayness of the low skies, and the muted dark green of the Douglas Firs, Red Cedars and Hemlocks can feel oppressive, but then, depending on my mood, the weather can also comfort, by wrapping itself around me like a tired, old, sleeping bag. 
No, this weather doesn’t make me feel warm like that old bag. After years of living in this climate, I am ingrained with the sense, the feeling of familiarity, of the commonplace.  The weather reminds me that this is my landscape, my environment, and my home. I am grounded in this sense of place.
As a creature of habit, I take comfort in the rhythms of life.  The start of my children’s sports seasons, the ski season, our annual four day weekend at Ross Lake Resort.  Fall blueberries in the high Cascades, winter hikes in our Chuckanuts.
I need the return of salmon, a fresh cup of coffee, a good book,  the snow goose migration.

Snow Geese Skagit Flats ©Paul Anderson

The return of trumpeter swans.

I try and embrace the customs and traditions of the holidays and the iconic events of the religious year.  

Holidays ©Paul Anderson

I anticipate the ebb and flow of nature. 
I am reassured by the change of seasons.
As a photographer, I look for shapes and forms, the composition of the landscape. I see patterns and texture in a Mesquite Flats sand dune, and it reminds me of the patterns and texture on a 60 foot high “dune” of wheat waiting for shipment from our granary, the Palouse. 

Death Valley ©Paul Anderson

The Palouse, Son on Wheat ©Paul Anderson

I associate feelings and emotions with specific images, mental and photographic.

I associate images, mental and photographic, with specific feelings and emotions. 
But I don’t consciously understand the what, when, where, or why of how this process begins, nor how it evolves.
I remember sitting in my grandfather’s old rocking chair, my arms protectingly wrapped around my young son.  He is restless and trying to fall asleep on my chest. I feel his soft, warm breath swirling against my neck. 
As I slowly rock back and forth, I remember Toroweap.  
It is late October and chilly on the north rim, within days a snowstorm will close parts of it for the winter. I step out of my tent and sit at the edge, bare feet dangling high above the river, a sleeping bag draped over my shoulders.
In a dry waterpocket, on a ledge of Coconino Sandstone, a small pot of cider reaches a boil, wisps of steam drift past and I breathe in deeply the scent of apple and cinnamon.
From downstream, I sense the pulse, hear the hushed roar of Lava Falls.
To the east, faint stars appear. To the southwest, beyond the Vulcan’s Throne, a thin band of magenta stretches low across the horizon.  
Above, and across the inner canyon , insular clouds, trailing pale, faint, translucent strands of virga, fail in their attempts to quench the thirst of the juniper forest spattered across the Coconino Plateau.
Below, where the basement rocks of the North American continent lay exposed, 1.8 billion years old Vishnu Schists, warmed earlier by the sun, radiate heat, generating  uplift. 
Cooler, heavier air descends to the river.  The displaced warm air rises slowly three thousand vertical feet to where I sit. 
The air swirls, tumbles over, around, gently warming me.
Night ascends from the canyon.
And we sleep.

Toroweap ©Paul Anderson