Blanchard State Forest is an enormously popular recreation area located south of Bellingham off Chuckanut Drive that is visited by tens of thousands of people every year.
Blanchard Mountain features such things as the popular Oyster Dome and bat caves; hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails; and scenic wildlife watching opportunities within a few miles of Bellingham. (See Ron Kleinknecht’s “The Chuckanut Formation in our Backyard” Oct/Nov 2016 article.)
Unfortunately, this area is managed by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and logging is scheduled to occur in this cherished habitat and recreation area if the state Legislature doesn’t fund an agreement to protect it in the 2017 legislative session.
Plans to log the entire Blanchard State Forest were met with considerable concern in the 2000’s. A diverse group was convened to decide the future of the forest, and in 2007 a collaborative agreement identified a 1,600-acre core zone that would be conserved for recreation and environmental qualities and would no longer be logged for state trust land beneficiaries.
To date, the Legislature has shown support for the forest by providing $6.5 million of the appropriations necessary to fund the replacement land purchases. But $7.7 million in funding is still needed, and the 2017 legislative session is the last chance for funding before logging begins, according to Conservation Northwest, a Bellingham- and Seattle-based organization that protects old-growth forests and other wildlands on the Washington coast and in the British Columbia Rockies.
Blanchard State Forest provides important habitat connectivity as the only place in Washington where the Cascade Mountains touch the Salish Sea. Blanchard Mountain, the southernmost outpost of the Chuckanut Mountains, together with the Lake Whatcom watershed helps connect the coast to the Cascades.
If DNR does not receive the funding now, the strategy will be gone for good, Conservation Northwest said. Years of partnership and shared vision for the forest would be lost. DNR is committed to implementing the strategy but will not be able to do so without the remaining $7.7 million from the Legislature.
Conservation Northwest urges the governor and state legislators to fully fund the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement, and is asking recreational users and citizens to write to the governor and their legislators to ensure that this occurs.
For more information on Blanchard Mountain, go to