Why a National Monument?
The BLM lands in the San Juan Islands harbor unique cultural and natural resources, and provide a variety of extraordinary recreational opportunities. Management of these valuable public resources requires special attention and emphasis to balance uses with protection for current and future generations to experience.
The new National Monument contains a wide array of habitats, with woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands intermixed with rocky balds, bluffs, inter-tidal areas, and sandy beaches. In an area with limited fresh water, two wetlands within the new National Monument are one of the more significant freshwater habitats located on public land in the San Juan Islands. This diversity of habitats is critical to supporting an equally varied collection of wildlife, including black-tail deer, river otter, mink, and an array of birdlife such as the threatened marbled murrelet and the recently reintroduced western bluebird. The island marble butterfly, once thought to be extinct, is found only here. Marine mammals, including orcas, seals, and porpoises, attract a regular stream of wildlife watchers.
Nearly 80,000 visitor days are logged each year at the new National Monument. Visitors are attracted by the outstanding wildlife watching opportunities, as well as the chance to visit historic light stations. Fishing, crabbing, shrimping, and kayaking are also popular, as are hiking and camping, though these latter activities are somewhat limited due to the relatively small size of the parcels composing the new monument. The new National Monument is also used by outdoor and environmental education programs designed to help young people gain first-hand experience in a marine environment.