Land Bank commissioner: San Juan agency is listening to public

Dictionaries define “draft” many ways, such as a current of air, a compulsory conscription, the act of pulling loads.

For the Land Bank’s purposes, the meaning of “draft” is consistent with this definition: “a preliminary version, any of various stages in the development of a plan or document” — meaning “not final” and “not a done deal.”

When the Land Bank issues a draft management plan, such as the recent plan for Turtleback, it means the plan is draft, subject to revision based on public comment.

Consider the public meeting on a proposed plan for Fowler’s Pond Preserve held on Orcas in August 2000. The Land Bank had proposed a trail and options for parking with room for a school bus to allow students to observe and research the wetland’s rich flora and fauna. The public meeting was packed and impassioned adults and students pleaded for no public access to the Fowler’s Pond Preserve — no trail and absolutely no parking!

Based on the public objections and consistency with our mission statement and policies, the plan was revised to only allow public access to Fowler’s Pond Preserve with written permission, and only for scientific and educational purposes. This is just one example of many situations where the Land Bank has revised property management based on public comments.

Although recently some people have painted the Land Bank as insincere in its commitment to the definition of draft, I emphasize that the commissioners and staff take public comments very seriously, are highly responsible to the Land Bank’s mission in their considerations, and have historically revised both draft and final management plans when circumstances or information supported the change.

The Land Bank Commission began discussions on the comments received on the Draft Turtleback Management Plan when the public comment period closed. There are many issues identified by interested citizens that require consideration but the commissioners are dedicated to revising the draft plan in a timely manner.

The meetings are held monthly, advertised in the papers and the Land Bank’s Web site. Anyone is welcome to attend. There is always time set aside for public comment.

Amanda Azous
San Juan County Land Bank commissioner at large
Friday Harbor