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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Hikers trek Oyster Dome to raise awareness of deforestation

In an effort to save Blanchard Mountain from deforestation, about 40 community members and a camera crew hiked to Oyster Dome Sunday, Jan. 16.

Footage of the journey and interviews with the hikers will be featured in a new documentary by Endless Film Production.

The Seattle-based company, made up of Western alumni, hopes to raise awareness and prevent the 1600 acre Blanchard Mountain core from being logged this year. The land includes Oyster Dome, Lily and Lizard Lakes, and the North Butte areas.


Hikers hug trees on Blanchard Mountain Sunday, Jan. 15
Hikers hug trees on Blanchard Mountain Sunday, Jan. 15

Director Ryan Clarke said the company was compelled to use their platform after reading an article about the issue and doing more research.

The goal of the documentary is to convince people to contact legislators and representatives about this issue, Clarke said. The company hopes people will tell legislators to allocate funds into Washington state’s 2017 budget to buy replacement lands to log.  

“It’s a cause to get people to take action,” Clarke said. “We want the video to get as viral as possible. We want people to share it and be informed about what is going on.”

The documentary will capture the beauty of the hike and include stories and testimonies from community members about why the area should be preserved, Clarke said.

“It’s not just another forest; this is our backyard.”

Erica Kutze

Blanchard Mountain came under the same threat in 2007, but an agreement was reached that protected the land for 10 years, according to the Bellingham Herald.

Although legislature has given the Department of Natural Resources $6.5 million to buy replacement lands, an additional $7.7 million needs to be raised, Clarke said.

“It’s not just another forest; this is our backyard,” Erica Kutze said, who helped lead and coordinate the group hike. “This is everyone’s shared backyard and recreational area. For people who live in the city, as I do right now in Seattle, having access to this kind of place is so special and essential.”

James Wisswaesser, a Bellingham resident who participated in the hike, has seen the effects of logging first-hand and is concerned wildlife may be chased out of the area.

“There is going to be any number of negative impacts and the whole ambience will be forever changed for our lifetime,” Wisswaesser said.

Wisswaesser hopes the documentary will expose people to the fight between maintaining nature and the extractive industries that are happening.

“For humans to get out in nature and have a wonderful hike is a fantastic experience, and we should try to preserve the ecological values,” Wisswaesser said.

Daniel Soloff, one of the primary organizers of the event, was pleased with how many people showed support for the cause online and in person.

“It’s important for us to show our representatives how important this area is for us, so they can budget into their funds to prevent this land from being deforested for the next 10 years,” Soloff said.

Soloff acknowledges the importance of logging, but believes recreational areas should be protected.

“Deforesting still needs to happen,” he said. “It’s a part of our economy and our society, but it’s just unfortunate that the few areas we have to enjoy the great outdoors are being threatened.”

The documentary can be found on Endless Film Production’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/endlessfilmproduction.


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