The Blanchard Forest Advisory Committee met recently to look over recommendations about Blanchard Forest and, more specifically, about how the upper portion of the mountain will be managed.
The 4,800-acre state trust lands on Blanchard Forest are managed sustainably to provide funding for the local school district and county services, and also to offer non-motorized recreation and research opportunities.
DNR had been evaluating whether to transfer about 1,600 acres the upper ‘core’ of the forest out of State Trust lands status and into a Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), its ecosystems to be protected and limited to hiking, nature observation and research. After considering some drawbacks to the NRCA concept, and recognizing ways to achieve conservation goals as well as other recreation benefits, DNR brought the proposal to the group to gain a broader local perspective.
Expressing concern about the various limits on how NRCAs can be managed, advisory committee members gave their support to keeping the 1600-acre ‘core’ area on the mountain as state trust lands, but managed in a manner similar to an NRCA. Committee members wanted to see an emphasis on wildlife habitat, older forest conditions, vistas, and maintenance of forest ecosystem health while allowing non-motorized, low impact recreation such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and hang gliding. They also encouraged DNR to continue purchasing replacement properties to replace those set aside in the core area of the forest under previous agreements. This approach is consistent with the Blanchard Strategies Group recommendations developed in the late 2000s and would allow the trust to continue to produce natural resources revenue to support the beneficiaries.
Members of the 11-person Advisory Committee were appointed by the Commissioner of Public Lands to provide diverse local perspectives about proposed activities on state trust lands in Blanchard Forest, in Skagit County. Members represent organized non-motorized recreation, a trust beneficiary, a forest land manager, a forest industry representative, a land trust, a conservation/forest ecologist, a community member, a state agency, a local business and an education representative.
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