One of the North Sound's most popular and scenic hiking trails is in danger of being logged. Unless the state can allocate $7.5 million, the 100-year-old trees that cover Oyster Dome — between Mount Vernon and Bellingham-- will be cut down by the Department of Natural Resources.
Craig Romano tackles the popular hike off Highway 11 on a pretty regular basis. The guide book author has hiked 18,000 miles of Washington trail-and says Oyster Dome's six-plus miles are some of the very best.
"It is the only place where the Cascades meet the Salish Sea. So 2,000 feet, it rises right out of the Salish Sea, and you're overlooking the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Mountains," explained Craig.
That's why a decade ago, even though Oyster Dome is in a state forest where the DNR is required to log, a promise was made to protect it. The state agreed to buy 1,600 acres of private land, add it to the Blanchard Forest, and log it instead of Oyster Dome.
But 10 years later, the Legislature has funded less than half of the $13 million needed for the purchase, and Craig is starting to panic.
"It's looking like it could all unravel by the end of this year," Craig told us.
The view would still be breathtaking, maybe even more so -- but "There's going to be a lot of stumps and your invasive species," said Craig.
So he wrote a blog asking people to contact their state legislator. And we did: We called the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee to find out if there's a plan to include the $7.5 million needed to save Oyster Dome in this legislative session.
We haven't heard back yet.
Cox Media Group