Bureau of Land Management District Manager (Spokane) Daniel C. Picard sent the following letter to the Communities of the San Juan Islands:
On October 15, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began implementation of a shore line stabilization project at Watmough Bay on Lopez Island. This project was designed in response to the discovery that sensitive cultural resources at this site were being threatened due to the ravages of winter storms and wave action. The project itself consists of moving a few existing logs, installing two new ballasted logs, and strategically placing four boulders for the purposes of protecting sensitive cultural resources.
In the past two weeks a number of you have noticed that the project is currently underway. It is unfortunate that we were unable to have to have adequate staffing on site to effectively communicate with local citizens trying to gain information about the history and intent of the action. Therefore, we hope to provide some clarification here.
In 2011, BLM's engineer and archaeologist along with the interdisciplinary resources team approved the project design and moved through the standard environmental assessment process for its approval. Public scoping was accomplished using contacts from the district office's list of self-identified interested citizens.
Subsequent permits and approvals for the project were obtained from the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, the WA Department of Ecology for Certification of Consistency with the WA Coastal Zone Management Program , and the San Juan County for the shoreline permit. The BLM also coordinated these efforts with the local Tribal Cultural Preservation Offices.
Our error in this process was our failure to revisit the project design with all interested parties at the end of the environmental assessment process, and then again as we were planning to accomplish the stabilization process work.
Since 2011, BLM has put significant effort into developing an extensive local mailing list of interested citizens and organizations. We have this tool available to us for outreach efforts but failed to ensure that this step was taken for this project.
Though not a legal requirement for this type of action; we believe that this level of open communication and transparency of process would have demonstrated our deeply held regard for the long-standing history of outstanding public stewardship of these lands, and our commitment to the ongoing development of a collaborative partnership for managing the Monument's resources.
I deeply regret this error, and am committed to improving communication processes for our District, and to work with Islanders in development of management strategies for those Monument resources.
One benefit of the monument status is the national level of commitment to protect, preserve and restore the monument landscapes, and our determined assurance that we will be continuously working on improving our systems to support this objective.
To that end, I invite you to join our list of interested parties so that you can be contacted directly when there are future opportunities for public participation, such as public meetings and planning efforts. We are committed to using several vehicles for information circulation including ground mail and email, and regular postings on the monument website well in advance of actions that may impact our commonly shared interests.
Please send your contact information to Wenatchee Field Office ([email protected]@blm.gov). I thank you for your patience and understanding.