Friday, August 5, 2011

Sam Crawford Proposes Supporting National Conservation Area Designation for BLM Lands in Whatcom County

Map showing locations of Chuckanut Rock, Lummi Rocks and Carter Point

Back in May I did a write up on the proposed Nation Conservation Area (NCA) for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) parcels scattered around the San Juan Islands national-conservation-area-and-san-juan. San Juan County leaders are very supportive and passed a unanimous resolution in support of the San Juan NCA and both Washington State U.S. Senators Murray and Cantwell and U.S. Congressman Larson have spoken in support. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, Ken Salazar, has directed BLM staff to begin working on the plans for how the San Juan NCA would be managed. NCAs have a fair bit of local input in how they are managed.

At the time I wrote about the potential San Juan NCA, I noted that perhaps it would make sense to include three small BLM parcels in Whatcom County as part of the NCA. The three sites are Chuckanut Rock, Lummi Rocks and Carter Point located at the southern tip of Lummi Island. Next Tuesday the Whatcom County Council will be considering a Resolution proposed by Council Member Sam Crawford supporting the NCA designation and adding Chuckanut Rock, Lummis Rocks and Carter Point in Whatcom County to the proposed San Juan Islands NCA

Carter Point at the southern tip of Lummi Island

Chuckanut Rock in Chuckanut Bay south of Bellingham

Lummi Rocks of the west shore of Lummi Island

The designation makes sense and is consistent with Washington State Department of natural Resorces Natural Resource Conservation Areas on Lummi Island, United States National Wildlife Area designations on nearby rocks, and State, County and City parkland and conservation easements. The County Resolution is an important show of support as ultimately the decision to designate a NCA is a political one requiring an act of Congress. If this NCA goes forward, it will be the first in Washington State.

Council Member Crawford was initially responding to a letter from Interior Secretary Salazar regarding interest in designating BLM lands in Whatcom County as Wilderness Areas. The letter was likely a blanket letter for all counties with BLM land. The only BLM land in Whatcom County are these three small rocky outcrops and they fit much better in a NCA designation.

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