What’s new on effort to protect Blanchard from logging? Call lawmakers to find out

The view from Oyster Dome, a popular hiking trail on Blanchard Mountain, on Jan. 15, 2017.
The view from Oyster Dome, a popular hiking trail on Blanchard Mountain, on Jan. 15, 2017. chutton@bhamherald.com

Two state legislators have organized a Feb. 9 telephone town hall meeting about the future of Blanchard Mountain, where the race is on to secure $7.7 million needed to protect all 1,600 forested acres on the mountain in Skagit County from being logged.

Gov. Jay Inslee set aside $1.5 million toward that in his proposed budget, but supporters of full funding said this legislative session is the last chance to secure money for a 10-year agreement. If the money isn’t allocated, logging likely will begin this year, possibly as soon as summer, on some part of the 1,600-acre core.

Located just south of the Whatcom County line, Blanchard Mountain is known for its sweeping views. It is part of the Chuckanut Range and is a favorite destination for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders as well as paragliders and hang gliders.

Popular recreation areas in the core include trails to Oyster Dome as well as Lily and Lizard lakes, which are on land managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to generate money from timber sales for Skagit County, Burlington-Edison schools and other smaller taxing districts.

The intent was to put those 1,600 acres into conservation status to allow them to grow into an old forest, and to provide habitat for wildlife and continued opportunities for recreation.

It has about 100,000 visitors a year.

State Reps. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, and Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, are leading the town hall meeting and also will answer questions. The DNR also will provide an update.

Take part by dialing 877-229-8493 at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9. Enter PIN, 116359 when prompted.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea