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State to buy land adjacent to Blanchard forest

November 9, 2018

Blanchard Mountain, seen Sept. 10 looking north from Colony Mountain Road near Chuckanut Drive, is home to a 1,600-acre core that includes the Samish Overlook, the Oyster Dome Trail, and Lily and Lizard lakes.

The state Board of Natural Resources approved Tuesday a state Department of Natural Resources proposal to purchase about 200 acres of forest land adjacent to Blanchard State Forest in northwest Skagit County.

The move is part of an ongoing effort to preserve popular recreation areas on Blanchard Mountain while maintaining timber harvest revenue.

The effort, called the Blanchard Forest Strategy, calls for the conservation of 1,600 acres of state forest on Blanchard Mountain where scenic views and popular trails and lakes draw thousands of visitors a year.

Because that 1,600 acres was used to provide revenue to several Skagit County taxing districts, Natural Resources is now working to purchase replacement forest land elsewhere in the county to continue providing timber revenue.

The local taxing districts that receive timber revenue from the area include Skagit County, the Central Valley Ambulance Authority, the Port of Skagit, PeaceHealth United General Medical Center and the Burlington-Edison School District.

After the Legislature provided funding in the state’s capital budget in early 2018 for Natural Resources to complete the Blanchard Forest Strategy, the state agency purchased 76 acres of forest land, including roads used to access recreation areas on Blanchard Mountain, for $728,000.

The agency now plans to purchase 193.5 acres for about $1.2 million from Goodyear Nelson Lumber Co., according to a news release.

Those 270 acres purchased by Natural Resources this year will be used to replace revenue once generated by timber harvests in the now-conserved recreation areas on the mountain.

“Completing this purchase ensures continued financial support for Skagit County students and local forestry jobs, all while protecting the core of Blanchard State Forest for present and future generations to enjoy,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in the release.

Blanchard State Forest is a 4,800-acre forest in Skagit County on the southern end of the Chuckanut Mountain Range.

Natural Resources anticipates needing to complete one more purchase of replacement forest lands to fulfill the Blanchard Forest Strategy.

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