Some of you may be aware of the opportunity (and challenge) to have a protest voice for the now proposed Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan for the San Juan Islands National Monument. This is a very time sensitive matter in that all comments must be submitted by midnight Saturday, Dec. 22 for this Plan that determines the future for the next 10-20 years of the Monument.
The most disturbing proposed change is allowing camping on many BLM rocks and islands throughout the county. Though this might be through a permitting process, it does not take into account the unrealistic task of staff monitoring and enforcement of these campsites, as well as the impact on vegetation; bird habitat and mammal haulouts; tidal changes; abandonment of the “Leave NO Trace” principle; and a deception of promoting unrealistic opportunities to tourists. Not only is dispersed camping not wanted but even just public access to these rocks and islands will create untold damage to their unique and often fragile environment.
Other changes could be target shooting on all BLM lands during hunting season; change to less management of wilderness sites; limited inclusion of treaty rights; various uses of managing vegetation; and other issues that do not respect the conservation and preservation intent of the Monument Declaration and that of our desire for a healthy Salish Sea.
BLM has very specific qualifications and formats for filing a protest. You will find these detailed at www.SanJuanIslandsNM.org. Protests must be submitted by midnight Dec. 22 on their form or by mail postmarked by same date. Protest via emails are not accepted.
I know this is not a favorite thing to do this holiday season, but give a gift to our communities and support the locals’ original intent of the Monument which was to create a “preserve which is used lightly and where honoring and respecting the land and its natural systems is our first concern.” Let us not be overruled by Washington DC. This plan determines the future of our Monument for the next 10-20 years.
Coordinator of BLM Lopez Volunteer Monitors