Logging on hold, but Blanchard Mountain funding not yet finalized
Conservation Northwest / Nov 08, 2017 / Blanchard Mountain, Protecting Wildlands
By Chase Gunnell, Communications Director
Thank you to our dedicated activists and members of the conservation community who have spoken loudly to protect the core of Blanchard State Forest from logging!
Located south of Bellingham off Chuckanut Drive, Blanchard is a hugely popular recreation area visited by as many as 100,000 people each year. Managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and encompassing Blanchard Mountain and popular Oyster Dome, the forest features wildlife watching and prized hiking, horseback riding and biking trails.
Since the mid-2000s, we’ve been a leader in efforts to conserve this special place. In 2007, we helped craft the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement, identifying a 1,600-acre core zone that would be protected for recreation and environmental qualities and would no longer be logged for state trust lands beneficiaries. However, to implement the Strategy DNR needed funding to purchase replacement timberlands to offset those in the core zone.
After passionate advocacy in Olympia from our organization, our WILD NW Activists, and numerous other recreation and conservation leaders, funds to preserve the Blanchard core were included in both the state House and Senate budget proposals during the 2017 legislative session. Frustratingly, the Capital Budget was stalled due to disagreement over unrelated issues, and the legislature adjourned without passing it.
Despite the lack of a funding bill this past session, we’ve recently received some exciting news. With general agreement among state lawmakers on funding to resolve this issue: Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz committed to not logging the Blanchard core in the short term.
We’re hopeful Blanchard Mountain will finally be protected during the 2018 legislative session, and we’ll be working closely with DNR and other stakeholders to ensure funding is fully secured. Look for additional updates as they become available this coming winter!