Celebrate Blanchard Mountain on September 16

Celebrate Blanchard Mountain on September 16

ConservationNWAdmin / Jul 31, 2018 / Blanchard Mountain, Protecting Wildlands, Public Lands

After a nearly 20-year effort, Blanchard Mountain is finally protected. Now, it’s time to celebrate!

Join us on Sunday, September 16 for a party to thank elected leaders and celebrate this special place and its outstanding recreational and natural values.

This FREE event will include guided hikes and bike rides, live music from Bellingham’s The Yankee Drivers, a BBQ, and remarks from key leaders in this effort, including Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

The celebration is free, but please RSVP online!

Celebration of the Protection of Blanchard Mountain

The celebration will be held at Samish Overlook. Due to parking constraints, parking will only be allowed in designated areas and free shuttle vans will be provided. Please drive to the entrance of Blanchard Hill Trail Road (Google Maps), where a volunteer will direct you to parking areas.

Most cars should arrive between 10 and 11 am and will be directed to the Rock Quarry to park and meet the shuttle to Samish Overlook for the 11:30 program. Mountain bikers should arrive at 8:30 a.m. and will be directed to the Lower Blanchard Trailhead Parking Lot for a guided five mile ride that will depart at 9:00 a.m.

Please note: the BBQ lunch is free and will be served by volunteers with the Whatcom Chapter of Backcountry Horsemen. However, donations are graciously accepted to offset food and beverage costs.

This event is open to the public, but please RSVP online. Hosted by Conservation Northwest, Skagit Land Trust, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Whatcom Chapter Backcountry Horsemen of Washinton, North Cascades Soaring Club, and Washington DNR, with contributions from Washington Trails Association, Whatcom Land Trust, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, Sierra Pacific Industries, Sierra Club: Mount Baker, Friends of Blanchard Mountain, and Boundary Bay Brewing.

Looking Northwest from the Samish Overlook on Blanchard Mountain on a foggy morning with the San Juan Islands in the background.

Located between Bellingham and Burlington off Chuckanut Drive, Blanchard Mountain is a hugely popular recreation destination visited by as many as 100,000 people from across the Puget Sound region each year. It is the heart of the newly-renamed Harriet Spanel State Forest. For decades, trails, recreation destinations and habitat were at risk of being closed or gravely altered by logging. Thanks to a collaborative effort by local groups, citizens and elected leaders, the core of the Forest around Blanchard Mountain is now permanently protected for future generations to enjoy!

Background

About 20 years ago, local conservation leaders began an effort to gain permanent protection for the scenic, recreational, and ecological gem that is Blanchard Mountain, heart of the then-named Blanchard State Forest. The land has long been managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for logging to generate revenue for Skagit County and other trust beneficiaries, and logging of key areas has been a continuous threat during this two decade period even as recreational use and other visitation grew rapidly. In 2008, the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement was reached among a stakeholder group convened by the DNR. That agreement called for the protection of a 1,600 acre core zone that would be protected for recreation and environmental qualities and would no longer be logged for state trust lands beneficiaries. However, to implement the Strategy DNR needed funding to purchase replacement timberlands to offset those in the core zone. Due to the recession and other challenges, it took until spring of 2018 to secure the final increment of the needed funds. Now the mountain is safe and we can celebrate! Read more at: www.conservationnw.org/blanchard-mountain.