Letters to the Editor

Permanent protection of federal land benefits the San Juans | Letters

Interior Secretary Salazar and Senator Cantwell held a Town Hall meeting on Feb. 18 to discuss protection of BLM lands in the San Juans. Over 150 people at the meeting had the opportunity to express their views.

There were three consistent messages from the citizens who spoke:

1. These lands are special places that the community cares deeply about

2. These lands should remain natural and accessible

3. The community should have strong voice their management

We are proud to be pursuing a course to address these issues directly. U.S. Representative Larsen and Senator Cantwell have drafted and introduced legislation on behalf of the community that would designate these lands as Conservation Lands within BLM.

These are federally owned lands. Rather than give the federal government more control over these lands, the legislation puts community-designed restrictions on the BLM to ensure that these lands will be available for future generations. By giving the community an explicit role in the development of management plans it gives us a strong voice in decisions affecting these lands.

Secretary Salazar offered to propose to the President that these lands achieve their Conservation Lands designation via a presidential proclamation rather than wait for the uncertain legislative process.

We believe that our goal could be achieved via a presidential proclamation if that proclamation was based on the legislation Sen. Cantwell and Rep. Larsen have drafted on behalf of the community.

We look forward to working with Sen. Cantwell, Rep. Larsen and Secretary Salazar to pursue both the congressional and presidential paths. We encourage the community to join us in endorsing this dual-track approach. Whether via legislation as a National Conservation Area or via a presidential proclamation as a National Monument, our goal remains the same - to pursue a Conservation Lands designation that provides permanent protection for the BLM lands of the San Juans and a strong community voice in their management.

Please write Secretary Salazar to say that achieving permanent protection by either of these two approaches is good for our community.  You can find his address and more information att www.SanJuanIslandsNCA.org.

Tom/Sally Reeves

Lopez Island

— Editor's note: Tom and Sally Reeves are members of Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Conservation Area


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