Submitted by the Bureau of Land Management
There are several upcoming meeting to learn and comment about the future of the San Juan Islands National Monument. This plan can include locals’ knowledge.
Meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m., Nov. 5 at Woodman Hall, 4102 Fisherman Bay Rd. on Lopez; 6-8 p.m., Nov. 6 at the San Juan Island Grange, 152 First St. N., on San Juan; and 6-8 p.m., Nov. 7, at the Orcas Island Library, 500 Rose St. on Orcas.
Marcia deChadenedes, monument manager, will also be available at the following times and locations to answer questions throughout the comment period: 3-5 p.m., Nov. 12 and 1-3 p.m., Dec. 10 at the San Juan Island Library, 1010 Guard St., in Friday Harbor; 1-3 p.m., Nov. 28 and Dec. 28 at the Orcas Island Public Library; and 10 a.m.-noon, Nov. 1, Nov. 27, Dec. 13 and 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Dec. 27 at the Lopez Island Library, 2225 Fisherman Bay Rd.
The San Juan Islands National Monument was designated by President Barack Obama in 2013, in response to a wave of interest from islanders to ensure protection and restoration for the 76 locations that the Bureau of Land Management administers in the San Juans. Because these places are so small and widespread, the BLM has never had an overarching management plan for this region, even though other BLM areas have for 30 years. How important is a resource management plan? It is the law that the federal government cannot spend money to make changes to a landscape without basing it in the science of impacts, or without an overarching plan that has a long view for the changes to the landscape. Staff has been working on that planning process ever since the national monument’s designation.
In the past four years, staff has established and worked with a monument advisory committee, which is comprised of 12 locals with a breadth of interests and experience relevant to the landscape. There have been three roadshows in the islands to demonstrate what existing laws are protecting these lands, like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, and to learn from locals what landscapes they want to see protected, where developed, where to go hiking, camping and other fun outdoor activities. Staff has a group of resource specialists for wildlife, vegetation, cultural resources and more, who have looked at all the impacts these suggested choices would have. They have decided on a preferred solution, which is “alternative B” in the draft plan.
The 90-day public comment period ends Jan. 3. At this stage of the planning process, only one alternative can be selected to cover all 76 areas in the San Juan Islands National Monument. This is not a one-solution-fits-all landscape; staff knows this might not be the right solution for every location. That’s why they want to hear from the locals. There are comment forms for human uses on 16 locations, and two additional comment forms for managing vegetation and cultural resources, for both pre-European contact and maritime heritage areas. There are also general comment forms. The advisory committee would also be happy to work with locals outside of the scheduled events.