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January 11, 2017

Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Expansion: Victory for NWS Chapter!

The Northwest Straits Chapter in Bellingham is celebrating the recent news from Washington Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the recent decision to expand the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve to help preserve this special place, it’s ecology and public access for the future.

The Northwest Straits Chapter has played a very active role in the stewardship of the Cherry Point area for many years, and was actively involved in efforts to deny the development of a proposed coal export terminal in recent years. On the heals of denial of the permit by the Army Corps of Engineers in finding that this proposed use would have severe adverse impacts to the usual and accustomed tribal treaty fishing rights of the Lummi Nation, the chapter and many partners played an active role in advocacy efforts to further expand the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve in efforts to provide additional protections against other proposed future uses of the area. Read more in the chapter’s great comment letter in support: SurfriderLetterForDNRGatewayCutout

Of particular note is how important this area is for recreation in Whatcom County: “The uniqueness of Cherry Point brings a lot of recreation to the area, including beach walkers, shellfish harvesters, fishers, kayakers, swimmers, stand up paddle boarders, birders, recreational boaters, and more, which could all be impacted if Cherry Point as a whole isn’t properly protected. The Economic Contribution of Outdoor Recreation to Whatcom County, Washington report prepared by Earth Economics reported that $132 million dollars are spent each year in Whatcom County on water recreational activities, indicating that water recreation is very important locally.”

The recent press release from DNR states that, “Lummi Indian Business Council cited its treaty rights last fall when they asked to add the area originally proposed for the terminal to the reserve’s boundaries. DNR then convened a committee of scientists and conducted a public State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review to evaluate the boundary change. The technical review committee unanimously recommended incorporating the additional 45 acres, citing important herring and eelgrass habitat vital to local salmon runs.

Any projects proposed in the future for this site would have to be compatible with DNR’s 2010 Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve management plan, which precludes activities likely to have detrimental impacts on the aquatic reserve.”

The Northwest Straits Chapter applauds this important decision from Peter Goldmark and DNR, and will continue to play an active role in the protection and enjoyment of this special place. Want to lend a hand? Get active with the Chapter!

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