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A new soundtrack for Lake Whatcom

Posted by Mitch Friedman at Sep 12, 2012 10:05 AM |

UPDATE Mar 12, 2013. The Whatcom County Council voted 5-2 to pass the long overdue Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve. A big thank you to all the supporters who attended the meeting and encouraged a 'yes' vote. We will keep you up-to-date with what this means for Lake Whatcom and what the next steps will be. Lake Whatcom Park’s new soundtrack: ANTICIPATION, ANTICIPA-YAY-TION, IT’S MAKING ME WAIT... The pursuit of land reconveyance to establish a great new Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park has begun to feel like an old Heinz Ketchup commercial. Perhaps we’ll invite Carly Simon to perform at the next County Council meeting.

A new soundtrack for Lake Whatcom

A packed house, and more out in the rotunda, at last night's Whatcom County Council meeting on Lake Whatcom. More than 200 people took a "A Park for All of Us" sticker to show their support! (Photo: Council member Ken Mann's Facebook page)

UPDATE Mar 12, 2013: The Whatcom County Council voted 5-2 to pass the long overdue Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve. A big thank you to all the supporters who attended the meeting and encouraged a 'yes' vote. We will keep you up-to-date with what this means for Lake Whatcom and what the next steps will be.

UPDATE: The Whatcom County Council voted on 9/25 to delay further action on the issue for 4-6 months, to allow the county to further flesh out aspects like forestry and recreation plans for the park. We believe this delay is unnecessary and entirely political; but we are hopeful the process will still have the desired outcome - a Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park - and we will be in touch.

Lake Whatcom Park’s new soundtrack: ANTICIPATION, ANTICIPA-YAY-TION, IT’S MAKING ME WAIT

The pursuit of land reconveyance to establish a great new Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park has begun to feel like an old Heinz Ketchup commercial. Perhaps we’ll invite Carly Simon to perform at the next County Council meeting.

Last night’s meeting was so packed that downtown Bellingham’s taverns reported weak sales, though they made up for it in the hour after the midnight adjournment. If you were among the three or four Whatcom County residents who didn’t turn out, you can read full reports on the Cascadia Weekly and Bellingham Herald.

Everyone who attended deserves great thanks. Citizen engagement is not only the essential heart of democracy, it’s the only way that public good prevails over vested interests and their pawns. Conservation Northwest staff brought over 200 A Park for All of Us stickers for advocates to wear, and there were so many supporters, we ran out.

The saddest thing about last night was that more than a hundred advocates, including a late-arriving swarm of young mountain bikers, had to stand in the rotunda, perhaps feeling uncounted or unrecognized. Most left by the hearing’s mid point, possibly dispirited by the uninformed and vindictive mantra of opponents who arrived early to sign in the testimony list. The important voice of the mountain bike community wasn’t heard until two of the very last speakers, after 11 PM.

We hope they, and others who couldn't attend or stay late, will let the Council know they support the reconveyance in an email or phone call.

Also not heard until very late in the evening was extremely compelling new testimony from Dr. Michael Medler, Chair of WWU’s Department of Environmental Studies and an expert in forest fire, thoroughly refuting allegations that the park would heighten wildfire risk. Another noteworthy speaker was Barry Wenger, recently retired from the state’s Department of Ecology, who powerfully made the case for how reconveyance will benefit water quality and dispelled the notion that DOE’s position is to the contrary.

In the end, council voted down a resolution from Councilwoman Barbara Brenner to assign the process to certain death in the planning commission. It then approved a postponement to October 9 to allow for study and comment on a new proposal from Councilman Sam Crawford to shrink the park by about 20%, mostly dropping lands that are outside the watershed and/or less environmentally sensitive. 

Yes, it would have been nice to celebrate last night. Yes, it was painful to hear conspiracy and invective repeated from under invisible tin foil hats. But the reconveyance is coming, and the park will last forever. Stay patient, optimistic, and vigilant. That ketchup is going to be goooooood.

[More info on the park]

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The opposition

Posted by Douglas Smith at Sep 12, 2012 12:45 PM
I swear that many of those who spoke against the reconveyance sounded like they were following a script. It was almost funny to hear talk of some county folks as being informed active and concerned in the same breath as allegations that they had only recently heard of the issue and that they don't read the Bellingham Herald very often. These were the same folks who spoke of conspiracies and sinister emails. Go figure! Tin foil hats is an appropriate term.

County Council and Reconveyance meeting

Posted by Kay Sardo at Sep 12, 2012 01:25 PM
I agree that opponents were early and strangely scripted, but my most puzzling experience was hearing distrust of Rand Jack and his relentless Land Trust work to preserve our forestland and water quality while figuring out and bringing forth a win-win for the school district and conservation interests.

Who's to blame?

Posted by John Rybczyk at Sep 18, 2012 08:35 PM
I thought it especially amusing that many of the opponents speaking last night claimed legitimacy by informing the council that they were 4th generation Whatcom County loggers. In that case then, it was their direct ancestors who initiated this now drawn-out chain of events by unsustainably logging the reconveyance lands to the point of bankruptcy in the first place! Oh, ye reap what ye sow indeed, or at least your descendents do; and isn’t that what environmental activists have been telling you for over 40 years now?

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