A Community Website by Lopez Island
Started by Sally Reeve (Flint Beach Ohana)
Aug 23, 2020
Join the San Juan Islands National Monument's MAC virtual meeting August 27th
Aug 23, 2020
The Monument Advisory Committee (MAC) is a way for the public to give input into The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) vision for the San Juan Islands National Monument. It is important that a Resource Management Plan (RMP) be developed which will guide BLM. It is important that this RMP be responsive to the local community, respect the objects and values protected by the Monument’s proclamation, and be consistent with management of public lands in the San Juan Archipelago.

The MAC will be hearing from the BLM, from experts, and from the public on August 27th with regards to BLM’s Proposed RMP.

I am submitting a separate post explaining how to get onto the August 27th meeting call, how to submit your verbal comments at the meeting and how to submit written comments to the MAC.

Thank you to local and district BLM staff for setting up this meeting. Thank you to Secretary of Interior Bernhardt for finally appointing enough members for the MAC to hold a meeting. Thank you to the MAC for advising BLM on the Proposed RMP. And thank you to the local community for its ongoing support of the San Juan National Monuments as good stewards of these lands - from serving as BLM monitors and lighthouse volunteers, to participating in community science projects, to submitting public comments and protests to BLM. Now to the dark side of what has happened with the MAC…

1. BLM has not fulfilled its legal obligation (in Proclamation and Federal Statutes) to allow the MAC to give BLM input throughout the RMP planning process. The MAC did meet between 2014 and 2017.

Then the Secretary of the Interior at the time, Zinke, placed a moratorium on management advisory committees and resource advisory committees which are a means of public input into management of certain BLM lands and National Parks. He then, and his successor Acting Secretary and now Secretary Bernhardt, did not make make timely appointments when MAC positions expired despite many qualified applicants for these positions. BLM added long advance lead times to hold a meeting (somewhere in the range of 75 to 90 days required notice).

This strategy to exclude public input accomplished: The MAC was not able to give input into the development of BLM’s Draft Alternatives (published 2018) and this also precluded the MAC until this August 27th meeting to give input on BLM’s Proposed RMP (published 2019). BLM’s legal staff may attempt to state the August 27th meeting, held after the Proposed RMP has been completed, is sufficient to meets its legal obligations. We do not agree that BLM has met its legal requirements for consultation with the MAC.

2. The Secretary of the Interior, while recently filling 3 positions on the MAC, did not fill another 3 critical positions representing: Local Government interests, Tribal interests, and private landowner interests. Local BLM has invited a tribal representative(s) and Jamie Stephens as San Juan County Council Member to present for 10-20 minutes each at the August 27th meeting. This is not equivalent to having these positions as voting members of the MAC.

3. As to Proposed RMP, here are major areas of concern:

a. It allows damaging public access to rocks and reefs and small islands that serve as marine mammal haulouts, bird nesting sites.

b. It enables dispersed camping (in Proposed RMP this is not allowed at Colville, Watmough, Chadwick, Iceberg, or where designated campsites are allowed at Patos, Blind, Posey). Camping by a TBD permit process would be allowed in most other areas, including rocks and reefs and small islands mentioned above.

c. Discharge of firearms/shooting in the Proposed RMP includes target shooting. MAC has not seen public comments submitted to BLM about target shooting.

d. Habitat protection

e. It allows use of herbicides, pesticides, and controlled burns for vegetative management.

f. It doesn’t adequately address wildfire concerns.

g. BLM still hasn’t conducted a complete cultural inventory (some of which is underway).

h. It has inadequate analysis of climate change and impacts.

i. The Proposed RMP is inconsistent with local, state, and federal regulations for nearby public lands. The National Wildlife Refuge’s management plan does not allow public access or dispersed camping on rocks and reefs, while nearby and indistinguishable BLM rocks and reefs would allow this. San Juan County regulations for target shooting, use of herbicides and pesticides, and camping all differ from what is in the Proposed RMP.

For detail information about these concerns, refer to the Governor’s Consistency Review, the San Juan County Protest letter dated December 19, 2019, and the Islanders’ Summary of Issues. All can be found at www.SanJuanIslandsNM.org.

Many, many in our community submitted postcards years ago asking BLM to protect these special places. Your comments talked about how important it was for you to be able to visit these places and to protect these places from being loved to death.

A good Resource Management Plan can do that: Give public access where appropriate, have trails that keep people off sensitive habitat and cultural sites, allow designated camping in existing camping areas on Patos, Blind, and Posey in a manner that protects habitat and cultural resources, have a complete cultural resources and critical habitat survey, allow visitation and interpretation at lighthouses, allow appropriate vegetative management for preservation of habitats and reduction in wildfire risk, allow firearm discharge (hunting) if in a manner and in appropriate places that protects the public’s safety.

The MAC can help us reach that good Resource Management Plan. It will not be a plan that satisfies everyone, but it will provide a secure framework for management of these lands for the next 15 to 20 years. Your comments to the MAC can assist them in this task.

If the BLM’s attorney’s have their way, this may be the last opportunity you have to go the record with public comment before Monument’s Resource Management Plan is adopted by the Oregon Washington State BLM office.

Look at my other LopezRock’s post for information as to how to present public comment at the meeting or submit written comments to the MAC prior to or during the meeting. Information about the meeting and public comment is also available in LopezRock’s Message Board posting from SJINM Manager, Marcia deChadenedes.
Comment by Sally Reeve (Flint Beach Ohana)
Aug 30, 2020
Thank you to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Monument Advisory Committee (MAC), experts who presented and the members of the public that made the August 27, 2020 virtual public meeting possible and productive.

Meeting for the first time since before the Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) was published, the MAC heard from subject matter ... Read All
Comment by Sally Reeve (Flint Beach Ohana)
Aug 24, 2020
Brought to my attention that many on Lopez are concerned the Proposed RMP does not limit group size nor specifically restrict commercial and competitive events (Proposed RMP does mention Special Recreation Permits but does not establish parameters).