Conservation Northwest (one of the lead Park Department “partners”) continues to fly lowbrow, doing its best to denigrate everyone and anyone who dared raise questions at the first ever public hearing about this huge park expansion proposal on September 11. Lobbing inane and sophomoric insults, boy have they ramped up the drama.
Despite the group’s claim that it seeks civil discourse (see their blog’s “Scat! Guidelines”), Con. Northwest has sunk to sleazy tactics to divide the community, branding all critics as late-coming, mean-spirited, tin foil hat throwbacks.
As for substance, let’s take a stroll through Conservation Northwest website’s recurring themes by giving them a little “fisk”:
“A Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park offers local control of natural resources and world-class outdoor recreation while maintaining quality municipal drinking water. In time, the park will mature into old-growth forest for future generations. In a recent poll, 74% of residents supported the park,” and “The proposed new Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park would protect more than a quarter of a local watershed, which supplies water to half of Whatcom County's residents.”
Here we go, starting with the claim that the county needs to do this to protect Bellingham's water supply:
Bellingham’s 2010 population was 81,000 according to Wikipedia. That’s 20,000 shy of half the county’s residents, but who’s counting. “More than a quarter” of the watershed they say. It's not much over, so for this exercise we’ll go with one quarter.
IF making this land a “preserve” did anything to improve the lake’s water quality (something Washington Ecology keeps evading), how much watershed or lake water quality improvement or protection would the park provide?
Using a McDonald’s type “customers served” approach, 81,000 “served” by the lake divided by four (a quarter of the watershed), that comes to the protection of water used by 20,250 people. That “service” would proportionately equate to protection of water-improvement for about 1/10th of the county’s population of 203,000 - not half. Something like that. The numbers are practically meaningless in any case, but this big-deal benefit is blown way out of proportion, dramatic as Lady GaGa.
“A Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park offers local control of natural resources...”
Local control, how? By all accounts, proponents say they don’t trust either the state or county council (present or future) to manage this land. So they want “local control” by whom? The Whatcom Land Trust, of course. Now that’s a private non-profit, run by people who are not elected and therefore not actually accountable to the public. How much did the land trust want a role in controlling the park? Enough to pay the Mt. Baker School District $500,000 to change its position from “oppose” to “support.” Whomever the movers and shakers were (ever see Spielberg’s “Pinky & the Brain”?), the half-mil deal was concocted at the same time the trust was penning a deal for itself. Just the facts, man.
“...world-class outdoor recreation...”
While tongues wag about eco-tourism, mountain biking, horse riding, camping and fishing, the hard core want “wilding” and “quiet recreation" meaning passive activity only. That would leave world class what? Hiking, and nothing competitive. Archie Bunker would say “Whoop-tee-do.” WE hope the mountain bikers don't get their hopes up too high. That descent might be a lot less fun than the ones they're used to.
“...while maintaining quality municipal drinking water...”
Again, there’s no reason to believe this would be "maintaining quality municipal drinking water." Despite the talk, staff (not a retiree) at the Department of Ecology has continued to ramble on about TMDL and development. But logging under the Landscape Plan has never allowed development so the whole thing's a "straw man" argument. Furthermore, the Audubon Society has questioned for years that a park would cause more environmental harm than logging does. They posted Tom Pratum's concerns repeatedly.
“In time, the park will mature into old-growth forest for future generations...”
How many generations would it take this productive fir forest to become real “old growth”? According to Wikipedia, a Pacific Northwest forest would need something like 250 years to achieve old-growth characteristics. The wiki also says old growth forest can only have “minimal signs of human disturbance.” At a minimum, it would take 120-150 years to reach pristine pre-development condition if the land weren’t used (a conflict with the “world class recreation” industry claim).
Last but not least, Conservation Northwest (and others, like Pete Kremen) continue to say, “In a recent poll, 74% of residents supported the park...”
What “recent poll”? Name it. Show it. Everybody is tired of hearing this. If somebody knows what poll that was, send a note to "contact us" or leave a reply below.
Disproving balderdash is like shadow boxing. WE question why council should find ways to “make this move forward” when the need has never stood up to real scrutiny. WE know reason doesn’t matter to some. It’s all about the environment, man. This "park" will be discussed at this morning's "Committee of the Whole" meeting at 9:30 a.m., County Council chambers. Attend if you can; if not, stay tuned. Meanwhile, enjoy a little chuckle from the past.