by Tom Reynolds
Chair, San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee
Last month the Bureau of Land Management issued the Proposed Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the San Juan Islands National Monument. The plan and appendices are nearly 900 pages, guiding every aspect of how monument land will be managed over the next 15-20 years. Despite nearly five years of work and input from the public, a number of significant decisions described in the RMP/EIS will impact our ability to protect, conserve and restore the outstanding natural setting of the monument as well as to maintain historical landmarks and Coast Salish cultural sites without degradation.
To facilitate public engagement, the Presidential Proclamation authorizing the monument called for the creation of a Monument Advisory Committee composed of local citizens including tribal representatives to provide advice to BLM. Although the MAC provided substantive input in the first years following the creation of the monument, the current administration in Washington D.C. refused to allow advisory committee meetings and delayed the appointment of committee members for a period of 2.5 years during the development of the RMP. This significantly reduced the quantity and quality of public input into the plan.
As a result, the RMP allows public access to many small rocks that are used as marine mammal haul-outs and bird nesting and feeding areas; proposes dispersed camping on much of the monument land; allows target shooting with few restrictions; and allows the use of pesticides in near-shore areas. Several of these issues are also contrary to county code. And these are only a few of the issues identified with the RMP.
We are now in a short, 30-day period where we can protest these decisions. A very dedicated group of islanders has analyzed the RMP/EIS and posted their findings at https://www.sanjuanislandsnm.org, along with instructions on how to file a protest with BLM and engage our legislators. The deadline for filing a protest is Dec. 22, so please raise your voices in support of protecting our monument.