Washington State DNR temporarily closes vehicle access to area around Sumas Mountain because of environmental damage, garbage dumping; DNR manages area's 14,000 acres of forests mainly for timber harvesting for revenue to support schools, local services

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OLYMPIA, Washington , August 8, 2022 (press release) –

Block of land in Whatcom County will reopen for hunting season, remain open if issues cease
 
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has temporarily closed the area around Sumas Mountain in Whatcom County to motor vehicle access after unsanctioned trails caused environmental damage, garbage dumping, and other public safety issues.
 
The entrances will reopen September 1 for hunting season and possibly remain open through December, giving DNR staff an opportunity to gauge whether the problems have improved. The forest remains open for walk-in dispersed recreation.
 
“There continue to be environmental impacts to public resources in this area, and in the interest of protecting the environment and public safety, we are temporarily closing Sumas Mountain to vehicles,” said Jay Guthrie, DNR Northwest Region Manager. “We know and appreciate that most people follow the rules while recreating, but due to recurring instances of unsafe activities and illegal use, we need to ensure that we are providing for the safety of the public and protecting this valuable area.”
 
In the past month, DNR has been removing trash and abandoned vehicles from the property, as well as trying to block illegal trails, spending more than $10,000 in the process. The unsanctioned trails have affected fish by delivering sediment to streams, violated environmental regulations, and angered neighbors by crossing onto private property.
 
In addition to these escalating issues, timber theft and unsafe shooting practices have created public safety concerns.
 
DNR manages the 14,000 acres of forests around Sumas Mountain north of Deming to raise revenue to support statewide K-12 school construction, Washington State University, and critical local services in Whatcom County.
 
Staff members are working with neighbors and various user groups in hopes of creating volunteer partnerships that will mitigate these issues in the future.
 
“We look forward to working together to protect Sumas Mountain so that everyone can enjoy it,” Guthrie said.
 
For photos of the damage and a map of Sumas Mountain, click here.

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Dan Rivard
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