The Energizer Bunny "Fairhaven mafia" will stop at absolutely nothing - back room arm twisting, anonymous cash "donations," and now a bums rush at county council (without a public hearing) - to have 8,700 acres added to the 7,300 acres already in county parks' inventory.
WE're talking about the DNR "reconveyance." If this goes through there will be more than 16,000 acres of parks in Whatcom County. For what? One lame (or loony) excuse has been trotted out after another.
Our community and conscientious elected officials have resisted this bad idea for years, not out of malice but for very sound reasons. Yet promoters keep beating on the same old drum.
Conservation Northwest, that refers to this as a necessary "preserve," is running a astroturf letter-writing campaign to council at this moment. Will there be push-back? WE think there needs to be.
Common sense has got to prevail. A host of unproven and tortuously conflicted claims purport that the conversion of state managed forest into this huge park will somehow decrease human impacts, resulting in the long term improvement of Lake Whatcom's water quality. Huh? That's far from proven.
As for the need to more than double the county's park acreage, even this Futurewise webpage cites, “About 65 percent of Whatcom County is national park and national forest." Parks just ran over the Acme community pushing the 603 acre South Fork Regional Park forward two weeks ago (with its $1.6+ million pricetag). That heavily opposed trainwreck pegged Parks acreage up to 7,300. The expense of this albatross, demanded primarily by Bellinghamsters (not county-folks), will hang around everybody's neck forever.
Last month's $500,000 skid-grease to quiet the Mt. Baker School District didn't settle the general public's valid concerns about lost revenue. What about the long term loss of timber as a public resource? What about all the logging jobs that will be lost?
If you haven't followed this, know that arguments "for" have been so weak that even the DNR (this was always hustled primarily by park and trust promoters) distanced itself carefully from this project last fall. The overall "public benefit" has never penciled out.
Out of the blue, Councilman Carl Weimer initiated County Council agenda bill AB2012-066B just two days ago. It was quietly slipped onto next Tuesday's agenda - no public hearing desired - bundled up and ready to go. Talk around the campfire is that council members Sam Crawford and Pete Kremen are ga-ga for it whatever the cost, no matter how lame the case is for public need. Of course the empire-building county Parks Department writes nothing but sunshine, along with it's partner-in-chief, the lucrative Land Trust that's on a constant campaign to build inventory.
If you attend the committee and council discussion next Tuesday, brace for the predicable schpiel that seems to precede most decision making these days. You'll hear: "This project has been in progress for years," "The paperwork is already done," "This is critical for health and welfare," and "It's not a matter of if, only a matter of when," followed by "Just sign here." It's a nasty modus operandi.
If any or all of this concerns you - as WE think it should - you have GOT to write to council and let them know your objections. "Just say no" would do, this will only take a moment. You may email Councilmembers as a group at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if at all possible, WE suggest you go to the council meeting at the courthouse next Tuesday too - 7 pm. If you want to speak, Open Session is your only opportunity. The public needs to take a stand, as the brave folks down on the Olympic Penninsula just did.