San Juan Island, WA – President Obama is expected to permanently protected close to 1,000 acres of land in the San Juans, on Monday with the designation of the San Juan Islands National Monument. The region, which will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), encompasses nesting grounds for bald eagles, shorelines where visitors can spot passing seals and orcas, and stands of old growth forest.
“Environment Washington applauds President Obama for listening to Washingtonians and protecting one of the most treasured areas of our state,” said Robb Krehbiel, associate with Environment Washington. “This is great news for all Washingtonians, including the thousands who canoe along Cattle Point, as well as the critical populations of bald eagles, orca whales and other wildlife that call this area their home.”
Environment Washington has been leading the push to protect the San Juans. Over the past few years, more than 200 businesses have called upon President Obama to protect the scenery of the islands that fuels the regions tourism. Over 5,000 Washingtonians have come out in support of protecting the region, including Gov. Jay Inslee. Other organizations and communities support the declaration, such as the Samish Indian Nation, the Washington Tourism Alliance, and the Lummi Island Heritage Trust. Today, Environment Washington joins these groups and individuals in celebrating President Obama's decision as a huge victory for the San Juan Islands.
Elected officials are also pleased with today’s announcement. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Rick Larsen made protecting these lands in the San Juan Islands a priority issue. After their bill was caught up by gridlock in Congress, they urged President Obama to use his executive authority under the Antiquities Act to protect these lands as a National Monument.
“San Juan Islanders have been shouting from the rooftops for years: protect these lands. Well the President heard our message loud and clear. The San Juan Islands are among the most beautiful places in the country and are an economic engine for Northwest Washington that attract thousands of tourists each year,” said Congressman Rick Larsen. “That’s why I have worked doggedly alongside Islanders for the last four years to push for this permanent protection. President Obama’s designation of the national monument in the San Juan Islands is the culmination of years of persistence by environmental and business leaders who built consensus and remained resolute in their mission. The national monument designation will protect this resource for residents and visitors today and in the future.”
As requested by the community, the San Juan County Council, and the congressional delegation, the BLM will work closely with the community in drafting a management plan for San Juan Islands National Monument.
“These BLM lands are treasured by the local community, including scores of volunteers who help care for them,” said Tom Reeves, one of the founding members of Islanders for the National Conservation Area in the San Juan Islands. “Our elected officials, and now the president, have heard the community’s plea to protect these lands. Now that our BLM lands are permanently designated for conservation, we know they will be protected and cared for so that our grandchildren can enjoy them as we have. We look forward to continuing to work with BLM to care for these precious places.”
In addition to creating the San Juan Islands National Monument, the president also protected other public lands, including Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in New Mexico and the Harriet Tubman Park in Maryland.
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentwashington.org