Breaking News

GMHB to Hear Testimony July 2nd, 2013, in Olympia

Updated July 1st, 2013:

Well I had a lot of catching up to do on Jack Petree’s challenge to the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance petition to the Growth Management Hearings Board.  This action by the County Council and how it so desperately wishes to thwart the common sense, lawful reasoning of Mr. Petree’ makes my head hurt too!

It could’ve been so simply rectified if the County Council had voted to work with the DNR to put together a park plan that included all of the desires of the biking, hiking and off-road vehicle enthusiasts; plus it would have preserved the commercial forest land and all of the other low impact sports that can occur there now.

Jack Petree posted six news worthy items since the last update.

Whatcom County Parks Director, Mike McFarlane, has approved the dissemination of a park survey which apparently is being emailed out to Whatcom County voters(?).  Although I have not received this email, maybe you have?   Please take a moment to take the survey (approx. 15 min.) and check back here with any comments you have on the survey.

  • Did you did receive the survey by email?
  • Is it a fair survey?
  • Does the survey have a bias towards more park land and more taxation to develop, or maintain parks in Whatcom County?
  • I’d love to hear what you think.
  • WC Park Survey

You can contact the Bureau of Natural Resources by email to weigh-in on this issue at:

~ Kris Halterman

A Post From My Environmental Blog Regarding Water (July 1, 2013 posting)

This isn’t specifically reconveyance oriented but, it has to do with the same assault on rural lifestyles the reconveyance and similar approaches impact.  To read the environmental blog try:

Meanwhile, If you really want to control the everyday lives of people, control their water.

Whatcom County, Washington is an example of how the pop-environmental movement, in an effort to impose its will on the unwashed masses, has seized control of a water rich environment on the basis of (you guessed it), water shortages!

The first pioneer settlements in Whatcom County centered on Whatcom Creek (Supposedly translated as “Noisy Waters”) because the falls provided power for sawmills

Think about it. Based on the averaging technique for calculation of necessary instream flows, pre-settlement streams were unable to support fish populations, by definition. So, where did all the fish purported to have existed in pre-settlement times come from?

The technique used to measure minimum instream flows, applied to areas with little or no habitation as is the case here still shows violations demonstrating the inaccuracy of the technique. (click here to read the full story)

DNR presentation for July 2nd  (June 28, 2013 posting)

A real milquetoast presentation on the Reconveyance is up on the Board of Natural Resources site.
Interestingly, it has three page 11s…  Two slides are almost certainly supplied by Whatcom County.
Anyone planning to testify (it is not a hearing, just public comment taken as a matter of courtesy) can refresh themselves by looking at my letter to the Board posted earlier on this blog.  A good thing to testify to, if you are writing, is the fact that the County Environmental Impact Statement for the 2009 Comprehensive Plan showed the County will have a surplus of trails by 2031 without adding land supply.
Anyway, find the DNR presentation here…  I’ll let you know how things went with the Hearings Board Wednesday. (Click here to go to the original website)

Reconveyance on DNR agenda for July 2nd  (June 25, 2013 posting)

Below is a copy of a letter sent to the Board of Natural Resources yesterday.  The letter speaks to the County’s contention that the Growth Management Hearings Board doesn’t have jurisdiction to decide if the County violated the Growth Management Act when it applied for reconveyance because the County Council had its fingers crossed when it adopted the resolution asking for Reconveyance.

Letters to the Board of Natural Resources would be good because they are addressing reconveyance in some fashion next Tuesday at 9 o’clock in Olympia.  The public can speak on the issue but it is not a hearing… it is a meeting so any testimony is informal and is not counted as the equivalent of public testimony but can still have influence. (Click here to read the full story)

The Smoke Screen: So, we’ll tell them they don’t get to decide if we broke the law yesterday because we might want to do it again tomorrow..Is that clear to everyone?

Reconveyance Before The Board of Natural Resources July 2 (June 20, 2013 posting)
Yes we will! No we won’t!

The Board of Natural Resources of the DNR is addressing the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance July 2nd.
This is an important meeting and a very specific message needs to be sent.
The same day, at the same time, a hearing before the Growth Management Hearings Board on the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance Challenge is being held. (Click here to read the full story)


County Says Hearings Board Has No Jurisdiction Because The County Can Go Back On Its Word And Break The Law If It Wants  (June 16, 2013 posting)

My brain hurts.  Had to write responses to the County’s, and Whatcom Land Trusts, challenge to Hearings Board jurisdiction this week… 40 hours of misery.
Boiled down, the County’s primary legal issue is, “Our word doesn’t mean anything so it is not illegal to break our word.  Because we can break our word at will, even if it violates the law, the Hearings Board doesn’t have the right to say we did anything wrong.”

Whatcom Land Trust Has Documents Before Challengers Have Them  (June 8, 2013 posting)

Something’s Fishy!

Yesterday afternoon Whatcom Land Trust’s attorney Heather Wolf had her secretary send over a “Memorandum in Support of Whatcom County’s Motion to Dismiss” the reconveyance challenge filed by a number of parties against Whatcom County. Ms Wolf also served the Hearings Board with the memo.

One big problem!

There is no motion by Whatcom County to dismiss the reconveyance challenge!

“Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2013”

Challenging the County is about as much fun as…

The mail today contained two items related to the Hearings Board Challenge calling into question the so called “Lake Whatcom Reconveyance.”
First, the formal Board order allowing the Whatcom Land Trust to intervene in the case.  Two good things came out of the request that the Trust not be allowed into the case.  The Presiding Officer ordered that the Land Trust “…may not change or add to the issues presented for resolution as set out in the Prehearing Order in this case,” and that, “Should the Petitioner and the Respondent enter into settlement negotiations, the Intervenor shall not be a necessary party to those discussions.”
The WLT had worried in their motion to intervene that the County might come to its senses and do a settlement with Jack Petree.  If the County does decide to settle, the Trust has nothing to say about it.
A couple of people have said something to the effect of, “What do you expect out of a board appointed by the Governor?”  That is unfair in this case.  The Board made exactly the right decision.  State law makes it very difficult to keep an intervening party out of a case but, here, the party is restricted to sticking with the issues and, may not interfere in a legitimate negotiation process that saves everyone time and money and begins a proper process to discuss the importance of Resource Lands in Whatcom County.
Second, a new challenger to the county in the garb of the forest products industry has been mounted.  Tom Westergreen, Richard Whitmore, and the A.L.R.T. corporation (a timber harvesting firm) have lawyered up and challenged the reconveyance.  The Hearings Board has consolidated the Petree challenge and the new challenge so, a new timeline is established.  The challenges will be decided in November.
As always, remember to “share” this post with your facebook friends.

“Updated: Friday, May 15, 2013”

Rand Jack or Jack Petree; who’s telling the biggest fish story?

Later this year the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board will decide that issue but, for now, what do you think?  Jack Petree, the country bumpkin or Rand Jack whose organization, the Whatcom Land Trust, owns most of the country locally.


Humor aside, Rand Jack of the Whatcom Land Trust took Jack Petree out behind the woodshed for a spanking last week on Dillon Honcoop’s afternoon show on KGMI radio.  Here’s the link… the attempt at a verbal whoopin’ is at about 32 minutes into the show.

It seems Jack claims Jack hasn’t read county code (the regulations determining what can happen on certain kinds of land).  Jack (Rand that is) claims Jack (Petree that is) hasn’t figured out that parks are allowed on timber land dedicated to the support of Whatcom County’s timber industry.  Rand states outright that public parks, the only use reconveyed land can be legally put to, are allowed in the zone designated Commercial Forest, the zoning applied to all, or nearly all, the land to be reconveyed.

Now Rand is a well respected, even famous, attorney in Whatcom County while Petree is a plain ol’ writer with a sideline consulting on public policy issues so Rand has more gravitas while Petree is relegated to just reading the code and thinking, “What does the plain language of the law say.”

Well, here is what it says.

The code for parks and recreation can be found at  Just type “recreation and open space” or “ros” into the search box then click on the link to the left.

According to the code, “051 Public parks, playgrounds, forest preserves, beach activities, wildlife reserves, and natural systems education and/or interpretative areas. (Ord. 2004-026 § 1, 2004),” are among the permitted uses for lands designated by the zoning code for Recreation and Open Space (ROS).

Now, think about that language as you read that language.  Public parks…forest preserves…wildlife reserves…natural systems education and/or interpretative areas.  They are all different things or they wouldn’t have to be listed as separate entities.  The code differentiates between public parks and those other things.

It should be remembered that reconveyance can only be allowed for a public park.  If reserves and preserves are not public parks then reconveyance cannot take place to establish a reserve or a preserve.

So now let’s go to the zoning code for Commercial Forestry.  In the search box type in CF to find that code.

The first thing you’ll see is that, “The purpose of this district is to implement the forestry designation of the Comprehensive Plan, pursuant to RCW 36.70A.170, by providing for and encouraging the long-term productivity, commercial management and sustained use of forest resources. In addition, the district provides for uses that are compatible with forestry activities, while maintaining water quality and soil productivity.”

Next, “.056 Public forest preserves, wildlife reserves, natural systems education, and/or interpretive areas,” are listed as allowed uses.  Notice that parks are not included on the list.  So, based on this piece of code, public forest preserves, wildlife reserves, natural systems education, and or interpretive areas” are not incompatible with commercial timber production.  You can see the truth of that by looking at Galbraith Mountain where bike trails crisscross currently maturing stands of timber managed for harvest and, in fact, they even cross recently harvested timber areas.

Now, go to .154 which speaks to some accessory uses allowed in the CF zone as well as some uses excluded from the zone saying, “Operation of dispersed, primitive recreational facilities including tent campgrounds, game reserves, developed trailheads with parking for more than 30 vehicles, but excluding uses such as community centers, riding academies, off-road vehicle parks, parks, marinas, camping clubs, institutional camps and recreational vehicle and travel trailer parks.”

You can look up what “excluding” means on your own.

Last, go to  20.43.200 Prohibited uses and read “.201 All other uses.”

That means everything not specifically allowed is prohibited.  So are things that are specifically excluded.

Seems pretty simple and straight forward to me but then, I’m not a well respected, big time attorney so, what do I know?

“Updated: Friday, May 15, 2013”

Whatcom Land Trust Allowed To Intervene But Is Restricted To Addressing Challenge Issues

The pre-hearing conference between the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, Jack Petree and Whatcom County was held this morning.

News Flash!

Local nonprofit (?), Whatcom Land Trust (WLT), has motioned the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) to intervene (interfere, intrude) on Jack Petree’s petition to the GMHB to stop the Reconveyance of 8,844 acres of Whatcom County Trust Land.  Petree’s petition claimed that Whatcom County had not followed their fiduciary responsibility.  In Petree’s letter to the Whatcom County Council, he outlined three issues as the driving forces behind his decision to petition the GMHB to review and deny the Counties Reconveyance request:

  1. Past County actions that have decimated the local economy.
  2. Unlawful procedure to take county resource land and use it as park land (?) without first de-designating the trust land to rezone it for park use.
  3. Whatcom County failed to meet GMA standards required of them.  That requirement was to protect resource lands at a higher level of standards than any other; land which provides commercial forestry agriculture for the benefit of the community, both economically and as a means to provide a sustainable commodity source in perpetuity to Whatcom County and Washington State.

Map_Lk_What_Publicly_Protected_Land(SML article, April 10th, 2013; “Local Land Specialist Petitions GMHB to Challenge the Counties Approval to Reconvey Ag-Forest Trust Lands in the Watershed.”)

During this process there had been claims of the Counties intent to turn over the 8,844 acres to Whatcom Land Trust (WLT) in a conservation easement.  (This intention was discovered through a series of public disclosures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act)The County denied it had promised, or planned to place this enormous public resource over to WLT, in perpetuity.

From this writers perspective it appears that WLT is getting impatient to gain control of this land.  If successful, the transference of the Lake Whatcom trust land would make WLT the largest land holder in the County; wielding an ungodly amount of influence over the community in perpetuity.

~ Kris Halterman

Follow Jack Petree’s petition just bookmark his personal blog on the subject: “News About the Reconveyance Challenge.”

From the Whatcom Watch Dog: (Whatcom County Parks Director, Mike McFarlane, discusses the potential to adopt sectors of the Trust Land and how there’s no agreement to provide a conservation easement to WLT)

WLT Press Release WLT Motion to Intervene

Press Release:  Jack Petree   360-733-1303

Subject: Whatcom Land Trust Intervention In Petree Challenge To Growth Management Hearings Board

Title:  Whatcom Land Trust Positions Itself To Assure It Can Sue Whatcom County And/or The Growth Management Hearings Board In Superior Court Over Reconveyance

May 3rd, the Whatcom Land Trust moved to intervene in Jack Petree’s challenge of the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance before the Growth Management Hearings Board. 

According to Petree, the County’s challenger, “The land trust did not address the issues before the Board in its motion to intervene but, instead, appears to be worried about two non-legal issues.

First, the Trust complains, the County, “…may choose to settle with Petitioner on terms that substantially affect WLT, even though it (the Land Trust) is not a party.”

Second, the Land Trust worries that, “The County has no independent interest or motivation to advance or protect the property interests of any individual or organization.”’

Petree says he has offered to settle his challenge if Whatcom County will agree to suspend its Reconveyance request until it has docketed and attempted, in a transparent public process, to de-designate the land proposed for Reconveyance and re-designate those lands to a zone that allows public parks.  Currently, he says, parks are excluded from the land proposed for Reconveyance.

The County has rejected a transparent public process to change the zoning on the land, Petree says, but he is “…still hopeful the County Council will do the right thing and avoid the legal challenge now before the Board along with the expense and effort required by both Petree and the County when legal remedies are the only way to settle an issue.”

Second, Petree puts forward, it is interesting that the Land Trust is so worried about its own ability to control the Whatcom County Parks system.  In its request the Land Trust points out that it already controls, through the mechanism of conservation easements, 15 county park properties.  “Now the Land Trust seems to be worried it will lose the potential to control another 8,800 acres of land currently dedicated, by Washington State Law, to the preservation of Whatcom County’s timber industry,” Petree continues.  “I always thought the public should control its own parks but, apparently, the Whatcom Land Trust disagrees.”

Petree said he will oppose the Land Trust’s request for intervention because the Land Trust did not speak to the issues of the Petition for Review in its intervention request but will be surprised if the Trust is not allowed to intervene.  That could mean, Petree says, if he prevails at the Hearings Board the Land Trust could take the Hearings Board to Superior Court and possibly beyond in an attempt to overturn the decision.  Alternatively, Petree contends, if the county chooses to settle the issue with Petree the Land Trust’s intervention appears to be a thinly veiled threat to sue to stop the transparent public process necessary to rezone the land to allow for a public park. 

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