Submitted by the San Juan Islands National Monument
As it is every year, three of our Monument Advisory Committee members cycle off in order to give more folks a chance to participate in this invaluable role on a public citizen team that advises the agency on management activities!
Usually, folks nominate themselves and ask colleagues to write reference letters for them attesting to their skill in the identified role. The six positions that are up for grabs include three vacancies presently existing: representatives for local government, tribal communities and private landowners. The other three positions are ones that will be vacated by three members cycling out next year: representatives for cultural/heritage, recreation/tourism and wildlife/ecological.
This MAC is one of the most invested and successful Resource Advisory Councils/Monument Advisory Committees for the Bureau of Land Management. It consistently has more applications than positions available, and when they can meet, when there is a quorum, their contribution to the conversation for management decisions is significant, helpful, and meaningful!
The BLM lands in the San Juan Islands are different than other BLM locations for several reasons. Most BLM land in the greater United States was the land not previously committed for national forests and national parks, not selected by homesteaders or paid out to veterans for their service, land that was previously managed by the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service. In 1946, those two entities merged, establishing the Bureau of Land Management.
In the San Juan Islands in the 1800s, federally managed islands and points of land were identified as ideal locations for navigational aides, including lighthouses. These lands were originally withdrawn for the U.S. Lighthouse Service, which morphed into the U.S. Coast Guard.
The official rule is that when that land is no longer needed by the Coast Guard, it is released back into federal general use, offering it to the BLM, the default manager of public lands. Also in the San Juans, when the territory became a state and the state of Washington surveyed all of its new properties, it did not include numerous small islands and reefs in their tally and those lovely islands, many of which are on Orcas’ shores, continue to be managed by BLM. The last category is especially well known to Lopez, where the community rallied over the last 50 years to protect numerous landscapes on the south end, and working with the BLM Wenatchee Field Office was able to make land trades and purchases that expanded the total number of BLM managed acreage from 60 to 500, those landscapes are presently managed as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.
The MAC represents that community engagement, in a full spectrum of interests. Every year, the National Monument volunteer hours donated in this county make up the majority for the BLM offices in the state. These committee members represent stakeholder voices for these critical discussions at MAC meetings, and individually, they reach out to BLM and share observations and opportunities. They model stewardship and conservation leadership, and they work very well together. We are always hopeful to hear more voices, and this year will be the most fun, as we start into planning what things should look like on the ground, implementation after the Resource Management Plan is signed. We may meet as often as quarterly, though in recent years it has been annually.
Many thanks to those who have brought us this far! We have had many exemplary members! Boundless gratitude to Leslie MacDonald; Rhea Miller; Barbara Marrett; Mike Carlson; Eric Eisenhardt; Tom Wooten; Shirley Williams; Tom Reeve; and Jamie Stephens for their invaluable contribution. Also, a huge thanks to our current members, Tom Reynolds; Tracey Cottingham; Gene Helfman; Michael Jonas; Jacquelyn Ferry; and Erin Corra.
If you have questions, or would like to receive an application, call San Juan National Monument Manager Marcia deChadenedes at 360-468-3051, or Public Affairs Officer Jeff Clark at 509-536-1297. You can also find the application online at https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/sanjuan-mac-app.pdf. As published in a notice in the Federal Register, the BLM will consider nominations until Nov. 13, 2020.