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  • Power Past Coal rally at FRIENDS' 2012 annual meeting
  • MacKaye Harbor Community Beach Day
  • Exploring Spencer Spit on Lopez Island
  • Volunteers welcome canoes at the 2011 Canoe Journey
  • School kids on Shaw Island

FRIENDS of the San Juans

With an ever growing list of human pressures impacting the islands, the stakes have never been higher for preserving the San Juans. FRIENDS restores habitat, protects water, forests and endangered species, while building thriving communities in the San Juan Islands through education, science, advocacy, and citizen engagement.

aFRIENDS has a busy year on the horizon restoring forage fish and salmon habitat; removing derelict toxic creosote pilings from our waters; protecting freshwater, wetlands, fish and wildlife through permit and policy review; educating and providing technical assistance for property owners and professionals about shoreline processes & development; engaging with concerned citizens, US and Canadian tribes, government officials and non-profit organizations on strategies to protect our shared waters from fossil fuel export; and promoting sustainable practices and clean, efficient energy options for our region.

FRIENDS will continue to provide the community with information about these and other emerging issues. There’s never been a better time to get involved or to make a special donation to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature.


Look for Drift Cards on Local Beaches

LUSH Seattle employees volunteered with FRIENDS in August 2014 for a drift card drop.

FRIENDS launched “this could be oil” wooden drift cards in the Salish Sea during 2014. Information from the drift card study will help researchers calculate where oil from a spill might end up over what length of time and along what route. The results of the study will help communities allocate resources most efficiently to prepare for a spill. 

For more information, to see study results, or to report a drift card, please visit And if you find a card, take a selfie and share it with us!



A Win for Surf Smelt!

Photo of Surf Smelt by Gayle Van Ler

On June 2nd, Judge Eaton of the San Juan County Superior Court upheld a Shorelines Hearings Board decision to deny unnecessary shoreline armoring for a vacant lot along a surf smelt spawning beach on San Juan Island.

Surf smelt spawning beaches have been documented along just 10 miles of shoreline in the San Juans. This is a big win for surf smelt and the salmon, orcas, and other critters that rely on them. Given the Puget Sound Partnership's goal to increase unarmored shorelines, it is heartening to see decision-makers deny unnecessary proposals to develop our islands’ most sensitive shores.



Free Creosote Removal Program

Are you a waterfront landowner in San Juan County? Are your tidelands home to a variety of old, derelict creosote-treated pilings or structures? Would you like to see these relics from the past removed from your property?

If so, you can now get help to remove these toxic structures from your tidelands, thanks to a partnership between FRIENDS and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This program is voluntary and free to property owners
For more information contact Tina Whitman (FRIENDS), 360-378-2319 or Chris Robertson (DNR), 360-854-2808.

Check out DNR's creosote flyer for more information.


FRIENDS Leads Blakely Island Habitat Restoration Effort

FRIENDS spearheaded the intertidal restoration of a documented surf smelt spawning beach along Blakely Island’s Thatcher Bay. The project uncovered 5,300 square feet of habitat that had been buried under rock and fill for over 60 years, and then replenished it with a combination of pea gravel and sand. This sandy “fish mix” is where surf smelt spawn along the uppermost portions of the beach. Read the press release for more information.

Before - No longer needed to support forestry operations, this log handling facility and 110 dump truck loads of rock and associated fill was removed.

After - 5,300 square feet of intertidal beach was unburied, which opened up critical shoreline habitat for forage fish at a known surf smelt spawning site.


Video Release! A Place at the Table: Benefits of Beach Restoration

Click here to watch! This video is about a project FRIENDS managed that removed large, unnatural rock from a historic feederbluff and restored a local beach. This project is helping to “set the table” for the entire Salish Sea food chain.

Removing unnecessary armoring and restoring this beach helps ensure that forage fish have the right kind of sand/gravel mixture to lay their eggs on and plenty of shade from vegetation to protect these eggs. Forage fish are tied to so much of what we love about the San Juans – they feed salmon, whales, birds and people. Watch this video and see how we can all work together to create healthy shorelines that will help our human and natural communities thrive!


The Salish Sea Particularly Sensitive Sea Area

To reduce the risks posed by an oil spill from global shipping, FRIENDS is leading a transboundary effort in Washington State and British Columbia to designate the Salish Sea as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

A PSSA designation is a tool that the global community can adopt for an area that needs special protection because of significance for recognized ecological, socioeconomic or scientific reasons and because it may be vulnerable to damage by international shipping activities.

Learn more here:

PSSA Working Group: Background Paper

PSSA Feasibility Study Report for the Salish Sea

Designating the Salish Sea as a PSSA Informational Booklet



Salish Sea Vessel Traffic Projections: A 43% Increase

If all the new and expanding terminal and refinery projects in the Salish Sea are permitted and developed, including projects that became operational in 2014, there would be a 43% increase in large, commercial marine vessel traffic.

FRIENDS and San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping have released the Salish Sea Vessel Traffic Projections featuring 18 new or expanded proposed or recently completed projects, which cumulatively would add an additional 5,300 annual vessel transits to and from ports in British Columbia and Washington State.

Click here to learn more: infographic, source document and press release.


San Juan County Students are Saving Energy!

The Cool School Challenge team at Lopez Elementary.

FRIENDS is excited to be working with the San Juan Islands Conservation District, Islands Energy and OPALCO on the Cool School Challenge (CSC).  The CSC engages students in reducing energy and carbon dioxide emissions school-wide. Four San Juan County schools participated during the 2014-15 school year. We look forward to working with more students and teachers this fall! Contact Katie at or 360-378-2319 if you know a San Juan County school who is interested in participating.


FRIENDS, DNR and the Tulalip Tribes Remove Toxic Creosote from Barlow Bay

FRIENDS of the San Juans partnered with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Tulalip Tribes to remove creosote pilings and a pier in Barlow Bay off of Lopez Island.  This project improves water quality, eelgrass growing conditions, and upper beach habitat at a documented Pacific sand lance spawning site.

Twenty-six in-water creosote pilings and approximately 1,200 square feet of remaining overwater structure (pier decking) was removed from Barlow Bay.  In addition, 200 square feet of upper beach habitat were unburied by removing rock and fill, as well other debris including concrete, creosote and tires.

Read the press release for more information.









Check out our Facebook page for recent updates and news!


Become a member!

Join us for How Birds Fly: Photographs & Stories w/ Peter Cavanagh, NASA Researcher and UW Professor:

Sat., Feb. 6, 7:00 p.m., Brickworks (150 Nichols St.) in Friday Harbor

Sun., Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m., Orcas Center (917 Mt. Baker Road) in Eastsound. Click here for details.


Learn about creating or updating a will and tax advantages of designating charities at the Estate Planning Workshop, Thurs., Feb. 11, 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., San Juan Library. Click here for details.


Hot off the press! Check out our Winter 2015 newsletter to get informed and learn more about how you can get involved in protecting and restoring the San Juans Islands and Salish Sea for people and nature.


Sign the Save the Salish Sea pledge. You’ll be adding your voice to the growing community of Salish Sea champions who are taking action to stop new fossil fuel projects. Click here to sign today.

Sign up for the latest news that effects you and the island!



PO Box 1344, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 Phone: (360) 378-2319, Fax: (360) 378-2324 © 2013