At the southeast end of Chuckanut Drive, Blanchard State Forest is a widely popular recreation area visited by many thousands of people from across the Puget Sound and beyond every year. The area is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and encompasses Blanchard Mountain and the Oyster Dome, the Forest features great hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails, as well as Lizard and Lily Lakes. I used to live at the foot of the mountain and spent a lot of time hiking those trials and enjoying the expansive vistas fronm the top of the Oyster Dome.
Blanchard’s visitors also enjoy viewing wildlife and watching hang gliders and parasailers that use a launch spot on the mountain. At the southeast part of the Chuckanut Mountains, Blanchard Forest is also important for it’s habitat connectivity as the only place in Washington State where the Cascade Mountains meet the Salish Sea.
Blanchard State Forest is in trouble and the threat is that hundreds of acres may be taken out of it’s present protected status and may soon be clearcut, without additional funding from the state in this year. The forest is state trust land which means that DNR manages it to generate revenue to support Skagit County, Medic One, the Port of Skagit, and United General Hospital as well as the Burlington-Edison
The area had been logged for years before the public became aware of this treasure and in the early 2000’s plans to log the entire Blanchard State Forest were met with great concern. A diverse group of stakeholders, from, horse back riders and hikers to Conservation Northwest, got together with the state to determine the future of the Forest. In 2006, the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement, was put in place with support from the DNR and Commissioner of Public Lands.
The collaborative agreement identified a 1,600-acre core zone that would no longer be logged for state trust lands beneficiaries, but instead would be conserved for recreation and environmental qualities. But as part of the Strategy DNR needed funding to purchase replacement lands for the core zone.
The Washington State Legislature has appropriated $6.5 million toward Blanchard State Forest but another $7.7 million in funding is still needed and the deadline for funding the agreement is close to expiring.
If you have enjoyed the recreation opportunities that Blanchard Mountain has provided please contact state legislators today and urge them to fund the conservation of Blanchard State Forest in the 2016 Supplemental Budget to the tune of $7.7 million required!
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has requested the funding to save Blanchard Mountain’s Forest, Governor Jay Inslee and state legislators have not yet approved this funding into the state budget. Without this money the DNR will not be able to purchase replacement lands and will be forced to log the Blanchard Forest’s beautiful core area.
Conservation Northwest has been at the forefront of the effort to save the Blanchard State Forest for well over ten years. If you have a large chunk of cash you’d like to use to save this forest contact them.
Please help save Blanchard Mountain’s core forest from clear-cutting by taking action today! Learn more in this fact sheet from the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
image courtesy of Peter Stevens @ flickr.com