Submitted by the BLM
There are upcoming meetings to learn and comment about the future of the San Juan Islands National Monument. The next meeting is from 6-8 p.m., Nov. 6 at the San Juan Island Grange. Marcia deChadenedes, monument manager, will also be available from 3-5 p.m., Nov. 12 and 1-3 p.m., Dec. 10 at the San Juan Island Library to answer questions about the plan.
The San Juan Islands National Monument was designated in 2013 in response to interest from islanders to ensure protection and restoration of the 76 locations that the Bureau of Land Management oversees in the San Juans. Because these places are so small and widespread, the BLM has never had an overarching management plan for this region, even though others have for 30 years. How important is a resource management plan? It is actually the law that the federal government cannot spend money to make changes to a landscape without basing it in the science of impacts, or without a long-view plan for the changes.
In the past four years, staff have established and worked with a monument advisory committee, which is comprised of 12 locals with a breadth of interests and experience relevant to the landscape. There have been workshops explaining the existing laws protecting these lands, like the Endangered Species Act, and asking locals which areas should be protected or developed for outdoor activities. Specialists in wildlife, vegetation, cultural resources and more have looked at the impacts these suggestions would have, and a preferred solution has been selected: “alternative B” in the draft plan. Currently, one alternative can be selected for all 76 areas in the monument. Staff know this might not be the right solution for every location. That’s why they want to hear from locals. The comment period ends Jan. 3.