North Fork Nooksack threatened

Just in time for Thanksgiving ’21, the U.S. Forest Service withdrew its draft decision notice and final environmental assessment for the North Fork Nooksack Vegetation Management Project (NVMP). Forest Supervisor Jody Weil wrote to interested parties that following a major pineapple express weather system which damaged approximately 30% of the road system within the project area, further assessment was necessary due to changed conditions prior to implementation. Supervisor Weil later wrote to clarify that rumors of the NVMP’s demise were greatly exaggerated, and that it would return to terrorize the public at some future date.

You’ll recall that the NVMP has targeted just shy of 3,000 acres in the shadow of Mount Baker for commercial thinning and clearcutting, with up to 20 miles of road (re)construction for log haul purposes. N3C and a few other entities, including the Nooksack Tribe, Lummi Nation (reportedly), and Sierra Club, separately filed formal objections to the Forest Service in opposition to various aspects of the NVMP. However, with Supervisor Weil’s withdrawal of the draft decision notice and final environmental assessment, all objections subsequently became moot and will need to be resubmitted when the Forest Service opts to bring Frankenstein’s monster back to life.

N3C will stay alert for the Forest Service’s expected reissuance of its decision notice for the NVMP, at which point we anticipate filing a new objection, absent very significant changes to this project. We are hopeful, as well, that the Nooksack Tribe and Lummi Nation will engage the Forest Service on a meaningful government-to-government basis, with a goal of reducing what may otherwise prove to be irreparable damage to the Nooksack watershed. Frankly, given the dire state of our biosphere’s health, it would likely be of considerable benefit if every significant federal or state action involving natural systems first required a local tribal co-signatory.