A much-discussed plan to transfer state land around Lake Whatcom to Whatcom County for management as park land is back on the agenda of the state’s Board of Natural Resources on Monday, Oct. 10 in Olympia.
Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest, says a busload of environmentalists will be heading to the capital for the 9 a.m. meeting.
The critical vote on this transfer will be cast by the Whatcom County Council, but before that can happen, the state board must approve a complex intra-state transfer of the land among various categories of state management, to lay the legal groundwork for the transfer of nearly 9,000 acres to the county.
The state board first addressed the matter at a June 7, 2011 meeting. At that time, the board voted unanimously to postpone the matter for further study, after representatives of timber companies joined Mount Baker school superintendent Richard Gantman in questioning the economic impact of the loss of timberlands. The state manages its timberlands to, among other things, provide revenue to school districts and a supply of logs for local mills.
Here are the minutes from that meeting.
Friedman said it makes more sense to set aside land that drains into the city’s drinking water supply.
“It’s one of the most cost-efficient things we can do to benefit the lake,” Friedman said.
This story by Jared Paben outlines the potential costs to the county, and also notes that both County Executive candidates take a dim view of the transfer.