Islanders for the
San Juan Islands National Monument
Resource Management Plan Approved
On January 31, 2023 the Bureau of Land Managment released its approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the San Juan Islands National Monument. This RMP will guide the "implementation level" decisions and on-the-ground actions on the monument for years to come.
The RMP document is much more approachable than the various Environmental Impact Statement Drafts that preceded it and we encourage interested people to review it.
The Federal Register notice includes the following description of changes made in this last round that many community members were seeking [emphasis is ours].
"On January 15, 2020, the Office of the Governor of Washington identified some concerns and potential inconsistencies between the proposed RMP and State and local plans, policies, and programs. The BLM made all requested changes that were within the scope of the RMP."
"Specifically, the approved RMP prohibits dispersed camping and removed small BLM-administered rocks from inclusion in a recreation management area. Access to these rocks will be limited to authorized educational, spiritual, or scientific purposes. The approved RMP also includes clarified language related to the proposed RMP’s prohibition of recreational target shooting to ensure that lawful hunting practices will continue to be allowed on these public lands."
"The approved RMP includes allowable and prohibited use decisions that the BLM believes will protect the cultural and ecological values for which the SJINM was designated, while also maintaining the recreational activities that inspired the public to advocate for the designation of the SJINM."
Thank you to the public, the Governor and his staff, the San Juan County Council, the tribes, Senator Cantwell, Representatives Larsen and DelBene, local representatives, the Monument Advisory Committee (MAC), the Wilderness Society, Advocates for the West, and the Conservation Lands Foundation for their work to ensure Monument lands are preserved and protected.
Monument Advisory Committee to Meet
The San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee (MAC) is scheduled to meet virtually on Thursday, February 2, 2023 at which time we expect the BLM to brief them, and the public, on the contents of the approved RMP. The public is welcome to participate in the meeting and there will be a public comment period.
February 2, at 9am Pacific Time
Zoom meeting ID: 160 007 0259 Passcode: 123753
What comes next: Implementation
With the approved Resource Management Plan, the focus for the Monument pivots to implementation. This will include the Travel and Transporation Management Plan.
Travel and Transportation Management Plan – This plan will cover access to Monument lands, trails, minimizing impacts to wildlife habitat, reducing the introduction and spread of invasive weeds, preventing damage to cultural resources resulting from the expansion of roads and trails on public lands, and other items. BLM may be able to use the information obtained during the RMP process to more quickly advance and implement the Travel and Transportation Management Plan. BLM will conduct future public meetings to obtain public comment on some of the specific implementation measures.
Funding and Staff – Sufficient resources will be critical to protection and preservation of Monument Lands. At the present time the National Monument has one staff person, the Monument Manager. A seasonal recreation planner will be added for summer 2023. Applications for a full-time recreational planner have closed, but the Spokane District Office states the position will not be in place until late 2023 or after.
The Monument has one staff person to implement the RMP, to enforce the RMP (65 sites spread out over many islands, rocks and reefs), to protect the public’s safety, to preserve cultural sites, to preserve endangered plants, wildlife and habitat, and to prevent harm to the objects and values for which the Monument was established. More staff is needed now.
Insufficient funding for the San Juan Islands National Monument is another concern. BLM needs to allocate sufficient funding to support the Monument. Having the RMP without funding to implement and enforce the RMP significantly diminishes BLM’s commitment to the Proclamation. If the Monument had adequate staff or could hire a contractor to assist with this, staff could apply for funding and assist non-profits working on Monument lands to secure funds currently available under the America the Beautiful Initiative; the Great America Outdoors Act; the Inflation Reduction Act (tribal, coastal community and climate funding); The Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act; and other government and non-profit funding sources.
The Road to A Plan
It has been a long road. The San Juan Islands National Monument was created on March 25, 2013. The Monument Advisory Committee (MAC), appointed to advise the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the Resource Management Plan first met in October of 2014. And the Resource Management Planning process officially kicked off in March of 2015.
Between 2015 and today, the BLM sought public input on the issues to be addressed, created draft plans for analysis, received public comment on those drafts, and published an over 900-page Proposed Resource Management Plan [very large PDF file] in 2019.
Included in the materials that BLM considered as they modified the Proposed RMP to become the approved RMP are hundreds of protests submitted by the public (all of which were rejected by BLM), issues summarized by Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument, and the following specific documents (all submitted to BLM by the MAC at their first post-Proposed-RMP meeting after not being allowed to convene during crucial parts of the drafting process):
The letter submitted to the BLM by Governor Inslee as part of his Consistency Review of the Proposed RMP
The protest letter submitted by the San Juan County Council in response to the proposed RMP
A Summary of Issues in the Proposed RMP prepared by Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument for the Protest Period last winter
A letter from the San Juan County Council expressing concern about gaps in the latest MAC appointments
Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument is a group of local citizens who care deeply for the lands of the San Juan Islands National Monument and work to ensure their care.
Our Monument protects precious sites in the San Juan Islands. These sites, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), include recreation areas beloved by locals and visitors, cultural sites used by local tribes for thousands of years, historic lighthouses, disappearing habitat, and much more.
More information about the Monument can be found on BLM's official website for the monument.
Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument advocated for the designation of the Monument, which was achieved in 2013. Since then, Islanders, has worked to inform the public of key engagement and advocacy opportunities, such as public meetings, and compile information to enable the public to engage productively with the BLM and others on issues surrounding the Monument.
Our History page contains information about the advocacy efforts that led to creation of the Monument as well as the history of the first 5 years of the Monument's existence. Our Resources page includes more recent information distributed during key input phases in the development of the Monument's Resource Managagement Plan.