WE DID IT!

San Juan County is now the owner of Lopez Hill! This incredible 400 acre property is now protected for generations to come!

In a process that took a long time and resulted in a 50-year lease in 2009, the San Juan County Land Bank negotiated with the WA State DNR to reach a deal. MANY THANKS to everyone involved in the Friends of Lopez Hill and the many volunteers who helped along the way. Many, many thanks also, to the County Council and the Land Bank, who continued to keep this project a priority.

http://www.islandsweekly.com/news/county-purchases-lopez-hill-from-state/

We’ll be hosting a celebration sometime soon;  we will announce details as we finalize plans.

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Land Bank seeking new Lopez steward

Our beloved and hard-working steward, Tim Clark, is retiring the end of May. The San Juan County Land Bank is hiring a replacement.

Details and an application can be found here:

http://www.sanjuanco.com/Jobs.aspx?UniqueId=112&From=All&CommunityJobs=False&JobID=Preserve-Steward-Lopez-Island-96

New E-bike legislation passed

The Washington State Legislature just passed a new law clarifying where e-bikes are, and aren’t, allowed. This new legislation says that unless specifically allowed, motorized mountain bikes are prohibited from natural surface trails. Lopez Hill is managed by the San Juan County Land Bank, which currently prohibits motorized vehicles from its preserves.

No e-bikes are allowed on Lopez Hill trails. Please respect the law and be courteous to other trail users.

From the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance:

E-Bike Legislation Passes in WA Senate and House.

This month, a new electric-assisted bicycle (e-bike) legislation bill (SB 6434) passed the Senate and the House, and it is anticipated to be signed by the Governor soon.  In short, this bill allows e-bike use on paved trails, but restricts use on natural surface trails, unless the land manager specifically allows it.

Evergreen worked with non-motorized recreation groups to assist the Legislature in refining the bill’s language, and encouraged clear distinction between e-bike use on paved trails vs. natural surface trails. Here’s where we landed:

What Does this Bill Do?

  1. It defines what an e-bike is in Washington State, and establishes a regulatory framework for their use.
  2. SB 6434 classifies e-bikes as bicycles, as long as its power output is no more than 750 watts, it has a saddle, includes fully operative pedals, and meets the criteria of the following classes:
    • Class 1: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
    • Class 2: Can be propelled solely by the motor, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
    • Class 3: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 28 mph, and has a speedometer.
  3. It gives land managers specific authority to regulate the use of e-bikes on their properties.
  4. It requires prominent labeling for all e-bikes containing the Classification Number, Top Assisted Speed, and Motor Wattage”.

What Does this Bill Mean for E-Bike Use?

1) Road, Bike Lanes and Paved Trails

Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are now allowed on roads, in bike lanes and on paved trails.  Local and State jurisdictions may restrict or limit their use.

2) Natural Surface Trails

Evergreen collaborated with other outdoor recreation groups to include language defining natural surface trails, and treating them differently than paved bike paths.  The end result is that e-bikes are not allowed on natural surface trails, unless signed or stated open by the managing jurisdiction.

Next steps for Evergreen

We are satisfied with the outcome of this initial legislation, as it addresses a critical need for urban bike commuters, and gives land managers specific authority to implement e-bike policies. It also recognizes that there is a crucial difference between road and trail use and it enables Evergreen to work on future legislation specific to trails, if deemed necessary.

How e-bike use is regulated is crucial to Evergreen for several reasons:

  • Concerns by our partners in joint non-motorized recreation planning efforts;
  • Potential loss of trail access if land managers choose to close trails to all “bikes” because e-bikes are now defined as bicycles;
  • Funding eligibility risk for future state, federal, and local grants; and
  • Ability for land managers to enforce the regulations.

It remains crucial to monitor the actual use and implementation of this legislation.  While its passage ends the “free-for-all” e-bike use on roads and paved paths through regulation, there is still work to be done on how this relates to mountain biking, and we have concerns on how this bill defines “natural surface trails”.

Our goal is to ensure appropriate legislation is in place for land managers to effectively manage e-bikes on mountain bike trails.  We’re working hard to stay on top of the issue, and devise and promote solutions that best advance our sport.

Finally, we are on the road to purchase!

GREAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE! At the San Juan County Land Bank meeting on Lopez on April 15, Lincoln Bormann, Director, discussed the progress that SJC Land Bank is making in discussions with the WA Dept. of Natural  Resources (DNR) to purchase Lopez Hill and Odlin South. The county currently has a 50 year lease for both Lopez Hill (400 acres leased in 2008) and Odlin South (about 100 acres leased in 2010). Friends of Lopez Hill and other residents and interested groups, especially the Lopez Community Trails Network (LCTN) have been lobbying the Land Bank to get them to put the purchase of these two properties at the top of their priority list. These properties are not permanently protected unless the county has ownership.

Late last year, the Land Bank asked LCTN to conduct a survey to see how many people on Lopez were interested in pursuing this. LCTN conducted an email campaign and survey, and demonstrated that 632 people supported the purchase. Jamie Stephens, San Juan County Councilman, also came out in strong support of the purchase on behalf of the SJCO Council. At today’s meeting, Lincoln and several of the Land Bank Commissioners expressed their strong support for the purchase of the two properties and their commitment to making it happen.

The Land Bank has initiated discussions with DNR and is preparing to make an offer to the DNR based on recent review and assessment by the Land Bank. The next step is for the DNR to make their own assessment of the properties, and then they will come back to the county with the purchase price. Lincoln said he hoped we could reach that stage by September of this year. At that point, we will know what the purchase price is and can work on determining the funding sources. This convoluted process has been a stumbling block to any serious fund raising because it’s difficult to ask for funding when you don’t know how much you need! It is really heartwarming to see this progress and the great support from the community to purchase these two large, undeveloped properties on Lopez. Stay tuned for updates!

“Go Take a Hike” 2016 schedule

The Lopez Community Trail Network‘s guided hike schedule is out! Join experienced leaders for great hikes in the San Juans and beyond.

Download the brochure for details and contact info.

  • March 12: Beach hike & cleanup, Lopez Island
  • April 30: Birding ID, Lopez Island
  • May 21: Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island
  • June 18: Mt. Grant, San Juan Island
  • July 23: Hidden Lake lookout, North Cascades
  • August 13: Skyline Divide, Mt. Baker
  • September 24: Oyster Dome, Larrabee State Park (near Bellingham)