FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Two Big Wins for the Chuckanuts
Blanchard Mountain Receives Extra Protection
The Chuckanut Mountain Range received extra protection from logging and development when the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Legislature accepted public recommendations.
Conservation Northwest today applauded two major events that will benefit the Chuckanut Mountains for generations to come. The Commissioner of Public Lands announced his decision to accept the recommendations of the Blanchard Strategies Group and the Legislature passed a Capital Budget Bill that includes $4 million for expanding the Blanchard State Forest by buying nearby timberlands that are otherwise at risk of development.
According to a recent USDA study*, the Chuckanut Mountain Range is at the highest risk for development in the Pacific Northwest, and the Blanchard Studies Group incorporated innovative solutions to this development threat into the Blanchard Strategies Group Agreement. Grouping land allocations into large swaths of public ownership in the Chuckanuts is a revolutionary new idea and a key part of the Agreement, ensuring that these forests stay intact and forever stopping the encroachment of development.
Executive Director of Conservation Northwest and Strategies Group member Mitch Friedman said: “Our grandkids will be able to enjoy the same scenic views of the Chuckanuts that we do now: forested slopes without subdivisions or ridge-top trophy homes."
The $4 million dollars equates to approximately 300 acres or more of private timberland to be purchased by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). On the newly enlarged Blanchard block these additional acres will be timberland, managed by the DNR, with revenues going to Skagit County and their junior taxing districts. They will be logged (under DNR’s HCP and other rules, an improvement over the land’s present private management) but will never be developed. This will be the primary legacy of the Blanchard Strategies Group Agreement – a broad swath of the Chuckanuts in forest, not development.
Over the next five years, this agreement will ask for a total of $12 million dollars worth of Chuckanut lands to be purchased. Twenty years from now, green forests will flank the Chuckanuts rather than trophy homes, highlighting the foresight and hard, collaborative work of the Blanchard Strategies Group.
The Blanchard Strategies Group Agreement also protects for future generations a core area of 1,600 acres of mature forests atop Blanchard Mountain, including the main trails, the lakes, and the bat caves, as well as connectivity to Larrabee State Park.
*Forests on the Edge, Housing Development on America's Private Forests, http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr636.pdf
Rose Oliver, 360.671.9950 ext. 10