Last week, islanders had a chance to weigh in on how the San Juan National Monument will be managed. Meetings set up as listening sessions were held on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan islands.
Participants gathered in small groups and answered four questions:
1. What is the worst thing that could happen now that we have a San Juan Islands National Monument?
2. What is the best thing that could happen now that we have a San Juan Islands National Monument?
3. What should the Bureau of Land Management do to ensure that the best will occur?
4. What are you willing to do to ensure that the best will occur?
The individual responses were transcribed and will be posted on the website.
People who weren't able to attend can still weigh in by emailing their responses to email@example.com or mail to:
BLM Wenatchee Field Office
915 Walla Walla Avenue
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Concerns people expressed at the San Juan Island meeting included over-use of the areas, push-back from property rights groups and increased marine traffic, BLM running out of money.
The best thing that could happen included: Increased tourism; properties managed to allow the public to use without destroying the lands; increased awareness and more money for restoration.
Simplifying the decision-making channels, listening to local input, implementing a fair easy access policy, no government buildings added to the sites were some of the answers to the question of what can the BLM do to ensure the best outcomes. Some wanted signs, another person believed there shouldn't be any signage at all for the National Monument.
Posting of signage, including educational signs about the history of Iceberg Point, is being installed already.
Educating the public on what the establishment of the National Monument means was a high priority for many during the introductory part of the meeting. San Juan National Historical Park Superintendent Lee Taylor said the situation has the potential for confusion. "You have to change the map ASAP," she said. "It is a disaster."
She was referring to the map showing a green line encircling San Juan County.
Bureau of Land Management District Manager Daniel Picard explained the green line was drawn "to give you an idea of where the San Juan Islands are, if you aren't from around here."
Several participants noted many people mistakenly believe it meant all of the land in the county was part of the National Monument.
San Juan Islands Interim Monument manager Only the land managed by the Bureau of Land Management is in the San Juan Islands National Monument . This does not include any private land, or any other federal land such as the National Parks, or any state-owned land. The 980 acres of Bureau of Land Management land makes up the National Monument.
With the National Monument status, the 980 acres will have its own resource management plan rather than just being part of the 16.5 million acres of BLM land in Oregon and Washington. The monument lands will be managed not only for preservation and conservation but also for restoration.
A 10-12 member resources management advisory council will be appointed. Information regarding qualifications and the nominating process will be posted in the Federal Register and will be sent to the media.
State Director Jerry Perez said "This is the beginning of the journey, not the end. There will be plenty of opportunities to participate."