Lake Whatcom Lands Transfer
In a collaborative effort, Whatcom County and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working on a reconveyance (special type of land transaction that transfers ownership from state to county) of up to 8,000 acres of State Forest Transfer trust lands within and adjoining the Lake Whatcom Watershed to Whatcom County for park purposes.
The basis for this land transaction was first announced in February of 2008 by County Executive Pete Kremen and then-Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland. The vision includes continued protection for Lake Whatcom, future recreational opportunities, and allows DNR State Trust Lands to be grouped for long-term management to earn revenue for trust beneficiaries.
When completed, more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails are envisioned connecting the various communities, neighborhoods and parks throughout the watershed. Management on the lands re-conveyed to the County will change. Under County ownership, the forests will be allowed to mature to an older growth environment benefiting the watershed and helping to stabilize the many steep slopes that surround the lake. Under the proposal, over nine miles of logging roads are expected to be abandoned and twenty miles of proposed new roads will no longer be required.
The land transaction is a process called “reconveyance” (RCW 79.22.300) and, if approved by the County and State, is expected to occur sometime in late 2012.