Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lake Whatcom Forest Reserve Park: On Base Forest Acres

As posted previously HERE, the State Board of Natural Resources approved an interchange of State Trust Lands in the Lake Whatcom watershed. The trust land now looks like this:

Blocked up Trust Lands in Lake Whatcom watershed

The light green on the map are the County Forest Board lands and the pink are the Common School, Scientific School, Capital Buildings and Agricultural School Trust lands. The goal of the exchange was to consolidate or block up the County Forest Board lands into contiguous land and the other trust lands as contiguous lands.

One issue that has received some discussion was How much timber land would be removed from the timber land base? This issue was raised at the Board meeting and it is being raised by timber industry reps and by those opposed to a forest reserve park in the watershed. The map below is of help in understanding the amount of land that may be impacted by reconveyance and establishment of a forest reserve park.

Timber management constraints
Reconveyance area outlined in red

The red outlined areas indicate the area that will be reconveyed to the County for park purposes. Within the park boundaries, dark green, pink, orange and purple areas can not be harvested. The yellow and brown areas are potentially inaccessible due to constraints on building roads across unstable slopes (This access issue requires site specific ground truthing). The light green areas can be logged. However, even some of the light green areas may be for all practical purposes out of potential harvest simply because of the cost of road construction to access these areas (a few of these areas may be potentially harvested via helicopter, but based on DNR analysis very unlikely).

A glance at the map shows that only about 20% of the land on the east side of the lake park area is within areas that can be harvested. And even within those areas that can be, access via logging truck is very problematic.  The proposed park area on the west side of the lake is approximately 50% "on base" for harvest. Some, but not all, of these on base areas are accessible with minimal road building. 

Based on the Lake Whatcom Landscape Plan as well as my own on the ground assessment of some of the areas, I estimate that amount of timber acreage the reconveyance will remove from commercial timber land acreage to be approximately 2,200 acres. I am sure quibble and arguing over exact numbers could be done. My purpose here is to attempt to bring some clarity to the acreage issue. And it should be noted that some limited timber management activity is likley on portions of the County Forest Resrve Park once a full management plan is developed.  

A bit of historic perspective on the process thus far is HERE

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