Submitted by the San Juan Islands National Monument
The San Juan Islands National Monument Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement were released on Friday, Nov. 22 and a 30-day protest period will now begin.
“It’s important to realize this plan will only apply to the 1,021 acres of BLM-administered public lands that make up the monument,” said BLM Spokane District Manager Kurt Pindel. “While a relatively small area, the monument includes landscapes of great beauty as well as sensitive cultural and ecological resources that should be properly managed for future generations to enjoy. The BLM prepared this document in coordination with cooperating agencies and 12 consulting Tribes and with input from the public.”
This document is the culmination of thousands of hours of work over the last five years. Islanders have formally been involved throughout the process to make suggestions and comments on outreach materials, scoping meetings to identify issues to be addressed in the planning process, recreation charrettes in the monument, and numerous gatherings during the draft plan comment period. The Bureau of Land Management also engaged 17 separate local, state and federal government entities, and 12 tribal governments for their review and recommendations. The BLM received approximately 1,200 comments during the draft plan review period; these comments were considered by BLM decision-makers as they developed the proposed plan. Responses to the substantive components of these comments are included in Appendix T of the Proposed RMP/Final EIS.
The newly available Proposed RMP does not reflect the final decision on the part of the BLM. Anyone who participated in the planning process and who has an interest that is or may be adversely affected by the planning decisions may protest the approval of the planning decisions. A party that wishes to file a protest must do so in writing within 30 days from Nov. 22 publication date.
The document is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xRphc. You will also find a Frequently Asked Questions document.
All protests must be in writing and filed with the BLM director, either as a hard copy or electronically via BLM’s ePlanning website by the end of the protest period.
Protests must be received by Dec. 22. Detailed instructions for filing a protest with the Director of the BLM are available online at www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/public-participation/filing-a-plan-protest.
To file a protest electronically, visit https://go.usa.gov/xRphc and click the ‘Submit Protest’ button to the right of the Final EIS document. Protests in hard copy must be mailed to one of the following addresses, postmarked by the end of the protest period, noted above:
Attn: Protest Coordinator
P.O. Box 71383
Washington, D.C. 20024-1383
Attn: Protest Coordinator
20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM
Washington, D.C. 20003
The BLM director will make every attempt to promptly render a decision on each protest. The decision will be in writing and will be sent to the protesting party by certified mail, return receipt requested. The BLM director shall make the final decision for the Department of the Interior on each protest. Responses to protest issues will be compiled and formalized in a Director’s Protest Resolution Report and made available following the issuance of the decision on the RMP. Following a resolution of any protests and the completion of the consistency review by the Governor of Washington, the Approved RMP and ROD will be made available electronically on the BLM’s ePlanning Website https://go.usa.gov/xRphc.
Finally, something new for our consideration is the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019. In accordance with that act, Nov. 22 also launches a 60-day public comment period regarding the proposed closure of the monument to the discharge of firearms outside of hunting seasons established by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. This restriction will not apply to the use of firearms by Coast Salish Tribal members for the purposes of hunting. While this comment period overlaps with the protest period, protests referenced earlier in this article are only accepted for the first 30 days and only through the submission methods described above.
We are enormously grateful for the energies that you all have invested in generating the plan. It is very meaningful that there are so many people invested in seeing this effort through, to the best outcome possible for these resources we treasure!
To that end, a BLM Monument Team will connect with locals on Lopez, San Juan, Orcas and in Anacortes to support folks’ understanding of their roles and opportunities at this planning stage, and to explain the implementation process.
That schedule is as follows:
• Lopez Island Library, 5-8 p.m., Dec. 2.
• Orcas Library, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Dec. 3.
• San Juan Island Library, 1-4 p.m., Dec. 4.
• Anacortes, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Dec. 5.
If you are interested in a meeting while this team is gathered, please reach out to the Monument Manager, Marcia deChadenedes, at 360-298-4302, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Cultural Resources Lead, Rich Bailey, at 509-536-1217, email@example.com.
This is a busy season but we are looking forward to connecting with you to answer questions and continue to support your engagement, however you desire. Thanks for hanging in there all this time, thanks for your profound investment and for helping to bring the plan to this stage.