Since 2012 we have been taking action to protect our Salish Sea, the San Juan Islands, and all the creatures that depend on a healthy marine environment for their/our existence.
Beginning 5+ years ago with our fight against — and subsequent vanquishing of — the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, Safe Shippers have worked hard to say, “No!” to the threats that would lap at our shorelines.
Most of these threats have been from outside our county and we had to yell that much louder for those in the distance to hear us. But this time, the threat is right under our own noses — the failure to protect our own island shorelines and the salmon and orca whales who depend on these natural shorelines for their survival.
San Juan County has nearly 410 miles of shoreline and our county government recently approved a Shoreline Master Program that was supposed to protect them. However, only a small fraction of essential salmon habitat along these shorelines was appropriately designated “Natural,” leaving them vulnerable to potential harm in the form of new docks, armoring, and upland clearing within the shoreline buffer.
We deserve better. The salmon and orca require better. Let’s ask our county councilors to make it better.
• Only 2% of the 10 miles of forage fish spawning beaches are now protected.
• Now there are 1.5 fewer shoreline miles designated “Natural” as compared to previous shoreline protections.
Other shoreline protections that were eroded:
• 20% of all types of vegetation can be removed annually in all buffer zones — including the 35 feet nearest to the water and including fragile native plants and trees not adapted to frequent pruning.
San Juan County has maps clearly showing the undeveloped shorelines that host these sensitive areas, and yet the County has failed to recognize them.
We need to take action at our own doorstep. We need ask San Juan County council members to designate these essential shoreline habitats as “Natural” — to protect the forage fish that nourish the salmon that feed the orca; to protect our island economy and way of life that rely on healthy shorelines. For the orca and salmon, it is life.
Please take action now! Call or write to our county councilors before Tuesday, January 9 when they plan to discuss this issue. It doesn’t matter if you are a San Juan County resident, an island visitor, or an admirer from afar, the council members need to know that we all care about protecting the Salish Sea.
Mr. Bill Watson