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Forest and River Protections Confirmed in Advance of Geothermal Lease Sale

Posted on Jun 29, 2020 in Conservation News, WA Wild Blog
Mt. Baker from Church Mt. Trail

Photo by Eric Michelson.

Today, Washington Wild coordinated a letter from 12 organizations to the Bureau of Land Management. The letter was in response to the announcement of a geothermal lease sale within the Mt. Baker District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest scheduled for June 30, 2020.

The letter confirms and reiterates a series of hard-fought stipulations that would apply to any geothermal lease moving forward and protect important resources such as old-growth forests, wild rivers, and recreational infrastructure.

The stipulations to geothermal leasing are the culmination of a five-year process involving both the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

While the 12 conservation and recreation organizations support efforts to explore clean and renewable energy sources, the letter calls on the agency to protect wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities afforded by the rivers and forests near Mt. Baker.

The goal of the letter was to ensure that geothermal development does not disrupt sensitive areas that boast some of the last best wildlife habitat and connectivity and intact ancient forests in the state. In addition, where significant resources have been invested to restore watersheds, those areas should be protected against development.

In 2014, Washington Wild and 11 other conservation and recreation groups submitted comments to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on a proposal to lease public lands for geothermal exploration and development. We were happy to see the BLM adopt most of our stipulations in regards to geothermal exploration in the area and hope they will be cognizant of sensitive areas around Mt. Baker as this lease sale progresses.