A plan to convert commercial timberland around Lake Whatcom to old-growth forest and hiking trails will be scrutinized at the first of three meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
The topic of this first meeting, starting at 9:30 a.m. at Whatcom County Council chambers, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham, is the potential park's recreation plan. Council's discussion will be based on a preliminary park plan sketched out years ago. In 2008, the park was envisioned as low-impact, with walking, biking and horseback trails, and possibly overnight camping.
The meetings were planned after council members in September delayed a vote on the transfer of 8,844 acres of land from state to county control, for use as a park. The council is divided on the plan. Some see it as a boon for recreation and conservation of Lake Whatcom's water quality. Others would prefer the land stay under state control, to continue generating timber jobs and revenues for schools and other taxing districts. The state manages the land for commercial timber harvesting.
Also on the table at the meeting will be an alternate proposal to keep the land in state hands and work with the Department of Natural Resources on a recreation plan.
Dates have not been set for the other two meetings, which will address a forestry management plan and a budget for the proposed park.