Blanchard Mountain at risk without Senate funding

Blanchard Mountain at risk without Senate funding

Conservation Northwest / May 08, 2017 / Blanchard Mountain

The state House included funding for a Trust Land Transfer in their capital budget, but the Senate must do the same during the special session to preserve this cherished place from logging.

Blanchard State Forest is a hugely popular recreation area visited by as many as 100,000 people from across the Puget Sound region each year. Unfortunately the core of this special area will soon be logged if state lawmakers don’t fund an alternative during the special session!

The state House has passed a capital budget bill that includes funding to save the Blanchard core through an existing program called Trust Land Transfer. Now it’s up to the Senate to support this funding as well, and we need you to respectfully urge your state leaders to permanently protect the core of Blanchard from logging.

This contact form is directed at users’ local state senator and representatives, as well as budget leaders Senator David Frockt, Senator Kirk Pearson, Senator Barbara Bailey, and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.

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Our suggested message content is copied below:

Please support funding Blanchard Mountain Trust Land Transfer in Senate capital budget

Dear Honorable state legislators,

Thank you for your attention to the need to protect the core of Blanchard State Forest this legislative session. I’m writing to encourage you to continue to do so during the special session, notably the urgent need to include full funding for a Trust Land Transfer program in the Senate capital budget bill, appropriations that were approved in the House bill with the support of Blanchard stakeholders.

Reports from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show that this hugely popular recreation area south of Bellingham is visited by as many as 100,000 people from across our region each year. My family and many others visit Blanchard for a wonderful local taste of what makes the Pacific Northwest so special. From bird and wildlife watching, to towering trees and incredible views from Oyster Dome, it can all be found here just off the I-5 corridor. It’s a spectacular place that’s close to home, and having access to it is important for our community, local businesses, and our quality of life.

Our love for Blanchard Mountain and the surrounding forest means I was grateful to see that the House bill would appropriate $10 million to save the 1,600 acre Blanchard core and meet the goals of the 2007 Blanchard Forest Strategy Agreement through a Trust Land Transfer, an existing program that allows special state lands to be protected while keeping trusts whole.

Unfortunately, the Senate has not yet matched the House’s proposal, and I am strongly urging you to please support this last chance to conserve this unique and cherished piece of our region. Please show your support in the Senate for Trust Land Transfer appropriations to protect the Blanchard core, and please urge other Senators and state budget leaders to do the same!

The agencies, organizations, community groups and individuals who participated in the 2007 Blanchard Forest Strategy Agreement support a Trust Land Transfer to preserve the Forest’s core per an April 10, 2017 agreement. These groups are also committed to working with the state to ensure that county and Burlington-Edison School District trust obligations are fully met during the process of preserving the core and finding alternate forest lands.

I appreciate the support the state has shown Blanchard so far by providing $6.5 million in previous years to fund the replacement land purchases required to save this special place. But if additional funds aren’t appropriated this special session, many thousands of visitors will soon witness the alteration of this forest first hand, and associated impacts to fish, wildlife, birds, outdoor recreation and tourism.

This very visible tragedy can be averted through the Trust Land Transfer program. Please ensure that the reconciled capital budget bill includes the language from the House bill to preserve the core of Blanchard State Forest. Your constituents and many thousands of Washington’s around our region will deeply appreciate the preservation of this cherished place.