by Craig Romano
Editor’s Note: the following was originally published on Jan. 31, 2016, at Craigromano.com/blog. Reprinted with permission.
One of Puget Sound’s most popular hiking spots may soon succumb to clear cut logging.
The Oyster Dome, the Pearl of the Chuckanut Mountains — the only place in the Cascades where the mountains meet the Salish Sea — is being considered for a large logging operation. A large segment of trails including a portion of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail may be seriously altered. This would be a shame for the hiking community and a slap in the face for the consortium of conservationists that worked hard a decade ago so this wouldn’t happen.
An explanation. Yes, the Oyster Dome is within the Blanchard State Forest managed by the WA DNR for recreation, wildlife and timber production. Yes, I and many conservationists support this multiple use management in this forest. We realize that funds from timber harvesting in this forest goes toward education — and we are not opposed to logging in this forest. We’re opposed to logging in a 1,600-acre core section of this forest — the section that contains the Oyster Dome, two backcountry ponds, several trails and backcountry campsites. Here, recreation should be the highest management priority.
In 2006, an agreement was reached with DNR that would prevent logging in this core. It was and still is supported by a wide consortium of stakeholders and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. The agreement to protect this core called for the State Legislature to provide appropriations necessary to purchase replacement lands that could be harvested. The Legislature to date has provided $6.5 million. But it is not enough. $7.7 million in funding is still needed. And now 10 years later, the deadline is nearing for the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement to be completed.
Without the additional funding, DNR won’t be able to purchase replacement lands and will be forced instead to log in the core area where so many of us recreate. Can you imagine hiking through stumps to Lily and Lizard Lakes? Or peering out over a clear cut slope with logging landings and slash piles? One of the finest views in all of Puget Sound would be seriously marred. That would be a tragedy, and one that we can avoid.
Please write to your state legislators and urge them to allocate the additional $7.7 million in the 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget Bill for the purchase of replacement trust lands as outlined by the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement.
Help preserve and keep intact the 1,600-acre core surrounding Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain.
How to Take Action: Go to the following website and add your voice to supporters of the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement: http://goo.gl/ JDTTTs
Craig Romano is an outdoors writer and award winning author of more than a dozen guidebooks. He holds the following degrees: an AA in forestry from White Mountains Community College (NH); and a BA in history and masters in education from the University of Washington. He lives with his wife, son, and cats in Skagit County. Read more at http://craigromano.com/blog.