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A holiday gift for Whatcom County

You can't even hike in the municipal watersheds of Seattle or Portland, much less conduct commercial logging on steep slopes. But around Lake Whatcom, people reside, drive cars and jet skis, and even clear cut steep slopes on public land. We can help ameliorate our declining water quality with a forest preserve.

A holiday gift for Whatcom County

From the Northshore Trail, imagining the protected steep slopes, old growth, rich forest habitat, and recreation opportunities in a Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve park. Photo: Dave Werntz

The Whatcom County Council will soon vote on whether to convert into a county park about 28% of the forested slopes around Lake Whatcom, which provides drinking water to more than half of the county. The Council should obviously vote yes, and it would be helpful for you to share your opinion with them.

One is not even allowed to hike in the municipal watersheds of Seattle or Portland, much less conduct commercial logging on steep slopes. But around Lake Whatcom, people reside (by the thousands, many on septic systems), drive cars and jet skis, and even clearcut steep slopes on public land. Changes must be made if the community is to avoid the massive expense of additional water treatment.

Reconveyance of 8,700 acres for a forest preserve park is the best next step. The state Department of Natural Resources manages about half the watershed, roughly 15,000 acres. Of this, 8,700 acres once belonged to the county, and state law allows the county to take those lands back for recreation purposes.

If the county fails to request this reconveyance, in which it has already invested almost $300,000 in preparatory work, the DNR will continue to manage these lands for logging revenue. More gravel logging roads; more clearcuts. While a special plan restricts these actions to a fairly high level, it’s still allows way too much risk given the steep and unstable slopes involved and the stake the community has in its drinking water.

On the other hand, a new Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park would eventually grow back to mature and old growth forest, lined with quiet trails, providing natural water filtration, wildlife habitat, and an exceptional recreation resource at Bellingham’s back door. This is an asset that will boost the quality of life here and pay dividends for generations.

You can give Whatcom County a gift of clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreation today by taking action online, asking the County Council to stay the course for Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve. Thank you!

[Take action today] ~ [Lake Whatcom Q&A] ~ [A bird's eye view of the park]

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