One Thousand Acres Up For Conservation In The San Juan Islands

Mar 29, 2012

OLYMPIA -- Washington Senator Maria Cantwell has introduced a bill to get one thousand acres of the San Juan Islands declared a National Conservation Area. Ashley Ahearn reports.

The proposal includes over 60 locations around the San Juan Islands ranging from pine forests to lighthouses. Almost half of the 1000 acres is on the southern half of Lopez Island. The land is currently under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management.

More than 70,000 tourists visit these islands every year.

Lela: “These are beautiful lands. They’re loved by the people. They’re loved by the tourists that come.”

Asha Lela is the chair of the committee of Islanders for the San Juan National Conservation Area.

Lela: “What we’re asking is that these lands remain natural and accessible and the local community should have a leading role in managing these lands.”

Declaring the land a National Conservation Area would not infringe on private property nearby.

It would prevent the thousand acres from being sold for development. It would also provide federal funding for land management.

Advocates of the conservation plan are also calling for the President to declare the land a National Monument. The secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, supports that move.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Nework