Whatcom County Council member Barbara Brenner is still a solid “no” vote against the proposed transfer of Lake Whatcom watershed forest lands from the Washington Department of Natural Resources to county control.
Brenner called to share her views Thursday, Sept. 13, –two days after the council agreed to postpone a vote on the matter until Oct. 9 at the earliest.
The postponement is partly due to some council members’ desire to give some thought to Sam Crawford’s proposal to remove 1,755 acres from the transfer, keeping those acres under state control where they would be available for logging. Crawford says he hopes that change makes the rest of the deal more palatable to the timber industry.
But it doesn’t make it more palatable to Brenner.
“That was breadcrumbs,” she said.
As Brenner sees it, Whatcom County’s current financial condition makes it irresponsible to take on such a big undertaking now.
“The people who support this don’t give a rip about our budget woes,” Brenner said.
She argues that logging restrictions already in place under the state-approved “Lake Whatcom Landscape Plan” will already prevent any significant impact on lake water quality, and a county takeover won’t add any new level of protection.
“I would support this if I thought it would do anything for the lake,” Brenner said. “That’s my job, my first job, to protect public health.”
Brenner said too much recreational use of a new park envisioned for the property would do more harm to the lake than small amounts of regulated logging could.
At a May 2012 preliminary vote on the land transfer, Brenner and Bill Knutzen cast the “no” votes.
After the Tuesday, Sept. 11 public hearing, Council Chairwoman Kathy Kershner said opponents had raised some issues that deserve clarification, but she gave little or no indication that she is ready to change course and vote against the transfer. Instead, she called for a recreation plan that would spell out how the land would be used when and if the county takes control.