Friday, May 9, 2008

Lake Whatcom: Reconveyance & Park Plan -A Few Unanswered Questions

Now that I've figured out how to post a comment on NW Citizen and have the time, I've done so.
These were the comments [#9] I made earlier today on the May 2 article about 'Pete's Park Plan':

John Watts // Fri, May 09, 2008, 11:26 am
Debates on this subject are always good, but before locking into any position a few questions still need to be answered.
So far, I haven’t heard credible answers to most of the example questions listed below:

1. Conceding that Parks are certainly fun, won’t a large Lake Whatcom Park attract people from all around?
Would the impacts of more visitors, their vehicles, boats, horses and dogs be positive for the health of the Reservoir?
Just look at what happens with boat trailers every year at Bloedel-Donovan and tell me how that is beneficial.
Also, wouldn’t some clearing, logging and creation of impervious surfaces be directly associated with development of Park facilities?
How about more restroom facilities, garbage receptacles and re-fueling stations?
Development by any name is still development, isn’t it?

2. Is the fact that the DNR continues to chafe at and resist the more stringent ‘harvesting’ of timber requirements of the Landscape Plan that was so painstakenly worked out over several years -at the UNANIMOUS direction of our State Legislature- sufficient reason for eliminating it?
Is this a matter to be simply administratively dismissed and forgotten?
Does the secrecy and surprise introduction of the so-called ‘Reconveyance’ Plan suggest complicity with local officials?
Wouldn’t private forestry owners and managers also be glad to see the DNR Landscape Plan gone?

3. Can the significant revenues from DNR ‘harvesting’ [logging] be permanently lost, without the income streams for Schools and other State trusts coming from some other source?
Is the County willing and able to make up these funds -in perpetuity? If so, what method is intended, and in what amount?

4. In addition to replacing the anticipated LOST revenue from DNR ‘harvests’, won’t the creation, development, operation and maintenance of a large new Park require ADDITIONAL public funding?
How much will be needed and for what purpose?
From where will the County obtain such funding?
Will this funding be stable and long-term in nature?
To what priority would these new funds be assigned?
Would new Park funds subtract from the funding needed or available for other purposes, like Lake Whatcom water quality protection?
Can future County Administrations and Councils be expected to continue supporting the Park Plan far into the future?

5. What other ‘unintended consequences’ might occur as a result of the Park Plan moving ahead?
Which properties would be traded and who might gain or lose from such trades?
What about adjacent properties?
If the Park Plan were to fail for any reason, what would be the fate of the lands involved?
Would they revert to DNR, and if so, would the Landscape Plan again apply?
Would they become private forest lands, which are restricted by the Landscape Plan?
Of course, the answers to all of these questions -and there are likely more to ask- cannot now be known with quantitative certainty.
But many of them are known qualitatively!
Before embarking on a costly, poorly planned and thought out scheme like this, wouldn’t it be prudent to consider getting the best answers possible to these questions?
Like old Ben Franklin said, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.