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What does NCA designation do?-Several stories

What will change if the 1,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management Land in San Juan County became a National Conservation Area?

The land is currently federal Bureau of Land Management land. It would not be a new layer of federal bureaucracy just a different section of the BLM focused on environmental preservation rather than cattle grazing.

 

It would be in the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.

The property WOULD BE PROTECTED from being sold. Efforts - such as what it took to preserve Mitchell Hill wouldn't be necessary to stop condos from being build at Cape San Juan Lighthouse (FYI really a light not a lighthouse). That could happen under the designation in place today. A developer could purchase the site. For the record no plans are in the offing now.

No neighboring property will be purchased/changed/involved in the NCA.

More resources will be provided.

No infrastructure would be added to the property except for signs.

Any visitor centers would be located off-site in populated areas.

The plans for the NCA will be community-driven.

There would be a website with information about the lands.

In summary, this is  NOT an additional layer of federal bureaucracy, more resources would be provided,  protection from being sold would be in place, planning would involve the community.

The alternative is continued limited resources - one very hard-working employee, Nick Teague from Lopez Island, responsible for 1,000 acres. Very limited protection from being sold and limited community involvement in planning for the property.

Citizens' opinions are being sought by San Juan County Council members who are voting on a resolution which supports the formation of a NCA. Four affirmative votes are needed to pass.

Richard Fralick - Orcas West, richardf@sanjuanco.com (360) 370-7474

Patty Miller - Orcas East, pattym@sanjuanco.com, (360) 370-7467

Rich Peterson - San Juan North, richp@sanjuanco.com (360) 370-7468

Lovel Pratt - San Juan South, lovelp@sanjuanco.com, (360) 370-7473

Howie Rosenfeld - Friday Harbor, howier@co.san-juan.wa.us, (360) 370-4769

Jamie Stephens - Lopez/Shaw, jamies@sanjuanco.com, (360) 370-7475

MAP


March 22, 2012 US Senate Hearing online: Cantwell's bill designating 1k SJC acres as NCA

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's bill S.1559(PDF 139.3 KB) to designate 1,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in the San Juan Islands as a National Conservation Area (NCA) was one of several bills discussed in a subcommittee hearing of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee March 22.

The hearing was webcast at 11:30 PDT (2:30 EDT) online or .

 

To read all the info about the bill go here and enter the bill number S.1559.

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) is backing companion legislation in the House.

The federal land includes over 60 locations that range from pine forests to lighthouses and are visited by more than 70,000 tourists every year. Unfortunately, there is currently no long-term comprehensive management plan for this land.

An NCA designation would help ensure long-term protection of the land, keep the sites accessible and in the public domain and better managed to accommodate heavier visitor use.

See related press releases: September 15, 2011 And November 10, 2011.

Sen. Cantwell is a strong advocate of protecting Washington’s natural landscape. On San Juan Island, she led the effort to secure federal funding to prevent a private, out-of-state real-estate developer from obtaining ownership of Mitchell Hill, a popular and scenic hiking trail. Because of her efforts, Mitchell Hill remains in the public domain and is protected against private development as part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

 

NCA or National Monument? One will protect sooner

posted 02/29/2012 Almost every hand went up when Senator Maria Cantwell asked how many people want the Bureau of Land Management property in San Juan County protected. Agreement on how to accomplish that wasn't so conclusive.

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Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Cantwell held a town meeting in Anacortes Satuday, February 25 to listen to citizens' opinions about creating a National Conservation Area in the San Juan Islands. Scheduling conflicts made it impossible for the meeting to be held in the islands.

A NCA would protect the land in perpetuity. Without the NCA there is nothing to stop the federal government from selling any of the 1,000 acres of BLM land in San Juan County.

Mitchell Hill, 325 acres adjacent to English Camp, was on the verge of being sold to a private developer, before an Act of Congress championed by Cantwell, Representative Rick Larsen and Senator Patty Murray made it part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

In order for the BLM land to become a NCA, legislation must be approved by Congress. Both Larsen and Cantwell have introduced bills into the U.S. House and Senate, respectively. Cantwell told the audience at the meeting, it may happen next year or in ten years to pass, or never.

The other way to protect the land is by the stroke of a presidential pen. The Antiquities Act of 1906 grants the President authority to designate national monuments.

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"The president won't do it unless that is what the community wants," said Salazar. "Bottom line we won't do it unless it is the will of the people.

At the meeting, San Juan County Council member Jamie Stephens emphasized the programs only affect federal lands.

"This is not about the federal government coming in and buying a single acre of other land," said Salazar.

Some people did not want the federal government involved. One person said, "Let us run our islands, let us enjoy what we got."

Another said it felt like "some kind of stealth" deal.

One person said, "I'm not afraid you'll take us over. We are really glad this is happening.

Another said, "I feel this legislation is great, it puts it (protection) in writing."

The plan for management of the BLM lands through either of the two programs will be the result of a community-driven planning process.

Asked what advantages an NCA or Monument status would bring, Salazar replied more resources. Currently the only BLM employee working on the lands is "warrior" Nick Teague, who Salazar praised for the incredible job he's done. More information on websites, signage are possibilities. According to DOI staff, structures are not built.

At the end of the meeting, while almost everyone supported protecting the land, there wasn't a clear mandate for Salazar to ask President Obama to sign an executive order.

At the Tuesday, February 29 county Council meeting, Tom Cowan presented an update with a new twist on the process. The local committee is now gearing up to generate community support to make it possible to obtain National Monument status.

The twist is the status would be based on the language of the proposed NCA legislation.

Cowan said a three-member delegation, including Stephens, is traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with Cantwell, Larsen and Dept. of Interior staff. He said they've been told the idea is workable. 

Much of the BLM land is on Lopez - the area encompassing Chadwick Hill, Watmough Bay and Point Colville. Also BLM land are Iceberg Point and Cape St. Maries.

Cattle Point, including Cattle Point Light, is the only BLM land actually on San Juan Island. Tiny areas near San Juan Island are Kanaka Bay Islands, Kings Rocks, Dinner Island Rocks, Danger Rocks, Mitchell Bay Rocks, Mitchell Bay Mud Rocks, Mud Island, Mitchell Bay Rocks, Gus Island and Posey Island.

Patos Island and Little Patos are also BLM land as is Turn Point on Stuart Island. Both Patos and Turn Point's lighthouses have been restored.

BLM land near Orcas Island includes Skull Rocks, Harbor Rock, Victim Island, Indian Island, Twin Rocks, Beach Haven Rocks and Point Doughty.

Near Shaw Island are several tiny islands including: Blind, Broken Point and Parks Bay.

By Decatur Island, the BLM land includes Reads Bay, Dot, Fauntleroy Rock and Lopez Pass islands.

On Henry Island, Kellet Bluff is BLM land. The rest of the holdings are tiny islands or large rocks.



Cantwell, Larsen back effort to protect land on SJ Islands

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to introduce legislation in the Senate to implement a community-generated plan to turn cherished lands in the San Juan Islands into a National Conservation Area (NCA). This Congressional designation would ensure that approximately 1,000 acres of federally-owned lands, spread across around 60 parcels, would get permanent protection ensuring they remain in their natural state and publicly accessible.

Cantwell's bill will complement a bill being developed by U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA-02).

This initiative is being supported by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who visited the region in April to view the parcels proposed for protection and discuss the proposal with local stakeholders.

Secretary Salazar has asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to coordinate with a committee of local groups to prepare for a transition. On Thursday, June 16, 2011 Cantwell met with the BLM's State Director for Washington and Oregon, Ed Shepard, to discuss the proposal.

A National Conservation Area designation will help ensure long-term protection of these natural treasures, keep them accessible and in the public domain, and better managed to accommodate heavier visitor use. The legislation will not have a cost to the federal government or taxpayers.

"Where the San Juan Islands meet the water are some of the most beautiful, serene spots in the world," said Senator Cantwell. "I share the local community's desire to ensure the public can continue to access and enjoy the 1,000 acres owned by the federal government. I appreciate the great work local stakeholders, the Interior Department, and Congressman Larsen have done to protect land in the San Juan Islands and look forward to championing the necessary legislation in the U.S. Senate. Through our efforts we will work to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy these special parts of the San Juan Islands."

"I support this locally-driven effort to preserve the environment and quality of life in the San Juans so visitors and Island residents can continue to enjoy the islands for years to come," said Representative Larsen."I look forward to teaming up with the Interior Department, my colleagues in Congress and local communities to preserve the beautiful landscape and recreational opportunities that the San Juans offer."

The federally owned lands include over 60 locations that range from pine forests to lighthouses and are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The channels of water running between the islands support reefs and many of Washington’s most important marine species. The NCA land would anchor a system that includes a National Wildlife Refuge along with a National Historic Park.

"Establishing a National Conservation Area for Bureau of Land Management lands in San Juan County makes a lot of sense and will provide important long term protection for areas treasured by locals and visitors," said Ginny Broadhurst, Director of the Northwest Straits Commission. "As the San Juan Islands face increasing recreational pressure, these publically-owned areas need stronger management tools. I fully support the NCA designation."

Cantwell has long been a strong advocate on efforts to preserve Washington's natural landscape.

On San Juan Island, she led effort to secure federal funding to help preserve Mitchell Hill and have it become part of San Juan Island National Historical Park.

Recently, she joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in securing Senate Commerce Committee approval of the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Act. The Act would restore and protect marine resources in Northern Puget Sound to achieve a healthy ecosystem while sustainably using resources.


County Council set to adopt National Conservation Area resolution

posted 10/13/2010
Plans which have been in the works for more than a year will take a major step forward November 2, 2010. The county Council plans to adopt a resolution supporting establishment of a National Conservation Area on Bureau of Land Management Lands.

According to the BLM Website The Bureau of Land Management's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) is a uniquely diverse system that contains some of the Nation's most spectacular and significant landscapes. National Monuments are established by the President or Congress to protect areas and objects of historic and scientific interests. National Conservation Areas and similarly designated lands (Forest Reserves, Outstanding Natural Areas and Cooperative Management and Protection Areas) are established by Congress to conserve, protect, enhance, and manage public lands.

A committee of citizens, including Councilmember Bob Myhr, to establish the NCA. The local Congressional Delegation has said they would present it to Congress if it has strong local support. The other committee members are: Russel Barsh, Lincoln Bormann, Carla Chalker, Tom Cowan, Cynthia Dilling, Linda Hudson, Michael Jonas, S. Max Jones, Asha Lela, Nancy McCoy, Madrona Murphy, Sally Reeve, Tom Reeve and Dave Zeretzke.

If established, the San Juan County Conservation Area would be the first NCLS designated land in Washington. MAP


Comments due June 25, 2010 on BLM's RMP

posted 06/23/2010
The Bureau of Land Management is developing a Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the 425,000 acres of BLM land in Washington state - 1,000 acres are in the San Juans. At the same time the parameters for an Environmental Statement are being set.

The scoping process - determining what issues should be considered - is the first step. "Comments which identify or discuss a resource issue will be most helpful to our process." Comments are due on Friday, June 25, 2010. A series of public meetings were held including one June 5th in Friday Harbor explaining the process.

Preliminary issues which have been identified are listed on the BLM Web site comments page Most pertain to Eastern Washington. At the Friday Harbor meeting, BLM staff noted there has never been an RMP for the BLM land in the San Juans.

Protecting Cattle Point Light on San Juan Island was brought up as one issue of possible importance to islanders. Cattle Point is the only BLM land actually on San Juan Island. Tiny areas near San Juan Island are Kanaka Bay Islands, Kings Rocks, Dinner Island Rocks, Danger Rocks, Mitchell Bay Rocks, Mitchell Bay Mud Rocks, Mud Island, Mitchell Bay Rocks, Gus Island and Posey Island.

Much of the BLM land is on Lopez - the area encompassing Chadwick Hill, Watmough Bay and Point Colville. Also BLM land are Iceberg Point and Cape St. Maries.

On Henry Island, Kellet Bluff is BLM land.

Patos Island and Little Patos are also BLM land as is Turn Point on Stuart Island. Both Patos and Turn Point's lighthouses have been restored.

 

After those areas, the rest of the holdings are tiny islands or large rocks. BLM land near Orcas Island includes Skull Rocks, Harbor Rock, Victim Island, Indian Island, Twin Rocks, Beach Haven Rocks and Point Doughty.

 

Near Shaw Island are several tiny islands including: Blind, Broken Point and Parks Bay. By Decatur Island, the BLM land includes Reads Bay, Dot, Fauntleroy Rock and Lopez Pass islands.

There is more BLM land including many "unnamed rocks"

After the comments are received, BLM staff will review them, identify the issues to be addressed, develop alternatives, study the alternatives, select a preferred alternative, present to the public in summer of 2011. There will be a 90-day comment period then. The goal is to finish the process in summer/fall 2012.


National Monument status affects only federal land

posted 02/26/2010
If the San Juan Islands end up being designated a National Monument, the only areas affected are federal land - Bureau of Land Management land and National Parks. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asked DOI bureaus to what areas might be worth considering for further review for possible special management or Congressional designation. The list, which included the San Juans, was the result of the brainstorming session. Kendra Barkoff, Secretary Salazar's press secretary said Salazar believes new designations and conservation initiatives work best when they build on local efforts to better manage places that are important to nearby communities.

Division Chief for the National Landscape Conservation System (NCLS) Jeff Jarvis also emphasized the role of the local community and its Congressional legislators in the designation process.

If the choice is made in favor of National Monument status, the NLCS works with the local community to review how the federal land has been used in the past. They take a fresh look at the objects on the land and the local plan to see if protection and staffing is adequate.

Emphasis is placed on natural characteristics and not on building infrastructure. People may see new signs, different maps, more information on Web sites.

"You wouldn't see very big changes," Jarvis said. "We encourage visitor centers in local communities (not in the protected areas)"

The NCLS manages 10 percent of the Bureau of Land Management land. National Monuments are just one of the agency's programs. It works with other agencies to manage the National Monuments.

From the NLCS WEB SITE: The Antiquities Act of 1906 grants the President authority to designate national monuments in order to protect "objects of historic or scientific interest." While most national monuments are established by the President, Congress has also occasionally established national monuments protecting natural or historic features. Since 1906, the President and Congress have created more than 100 national monuments. National monuments are currently managed by agencies including the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, or BLM.

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