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.

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