Opinion

Blanchard funding

In 2008, a diverse group of stakeholders created the Blanchard Mountain Strategy to guide management of Blanchard Mountain. The strategy set aside 1,600 acres as a recreation and conservation area. This protected the iconic Oyster Dome, three lakes and a trail system through lovely mature forest. The rest of the mountain would be logged, enabling state land trust beneficiaries to continue receiving revenue. Blanchard’s trails are used by people of all ages, ethnicities, income and education. Mountain bikers, horse people and hikers share the mountain. They come from Skagit and Whatcom counties and from as far as Seattle and Vancouver. The mountain is a valuable asset to Skagit and Whatcom counties: we are so fortunate to have this beautiful recreation area so close! The catch? The DNR needs funding to purchase replacement lands for the protected area. To date the state Legislature has provided $6.5 million, but the deadline for funding the strategy is about to expire with $7.7 million still needed. Your voice is needed by Feb. 10 to encourage our legislators to appropriate these funds to the DNR. Without the appropriation the integrity of the strategy will be lost, and with it a beloved icon of great environmental and recreational worth. Both the Skagit Land Trust and Conservation Northwest’s websites provide more information and tools for reaching out to our legislators.

Letters to the Editor

Prison reform

There is a rare opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate in 2016. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sponsored SB2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. This bill focuses on reducing sentences for people incarcerated in federal prisons for nonviolent drug-related crimes, not for those in state or local jails.

Op-Ed

Whatcom View: I-735 a step to reversing ‘Citizens United’ ruling

Jan. 21, 2010 seems like any other date in U.S. history, but in fact, perhaps no day has had a bigger impact on the health of our American democracy. On that infamous date, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on a case commonly referred to as "Citizens United.” This decision firmly established that corporations, unions and other artificially created legal entities are to be treated under our law as “persons” with the same fundamental rights and protections that real people enjoy. One of those rights, of course, is the First Amendment right to free speech in the political sphere.

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