BLM Moves Forward With Geothermal Leasing with Protections for Old-Growth Forests, Rivers, and Trails
The Bureau of Land Management issued a decision clearing the way for potential geothermal leasing near Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Whatcom County. The notice is the culmination of a five-year process involving both the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
The BLM’s decision listed a series of strong stipulations requested in a letter coordinated by Washington Wild in 2015. While the 12 contributing conservation and recreation organizations support efforts to explore clean and renewable energy sources, the letter calls on BLM to protect wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities afforded by the rivers and forests near Mt. Baker.
The organizations applauded the inclusion of the stipulations that prohibited surface occupancy, the building of roads and structures, and timber cutting in important conservation areas like recommended Wild and Scenic Rivers, inventoried roadless areas containing old-growth forests, and late-successional reserves. Trails and recreational infrastructure were also protected by restrictions on surface occupancy.