Katie Fleming

Join the 2018 Great Islands Clean-up on 4/22!

by Katie Fleming on April 5, 2018 No comments

It’s time for the Great Islands Clean-up on Earth Day – Sunday, April 22 from 10 am – 2 pm.

Join us for this county-wide greening event where volunteers will collect litter from public beaches and roadways and help make the San Juan Islands “Litter Free by the Sea”!

Drop in cleanup is scheduled for South Beach, San Juan Island from 10-2 Sunday. Stop by and help community members, Friends of the San Juans and park staff clean our county’s longest beach for people and wildlife. Access to South Beach is from Pickett’s Lane off of Cattle Point Road on San Juan Island. Past year’s cleanups have removed 100’s of pounds of marine debris and litter from this beach. Dress for the weather and bring your picnic!

New this year: San Juan Island picker-uppers are asked to join the recycling diversion challenge. We are seeing how much of the collected litter can be diverted to recycling. Please sort any clean recycled material from your roadside or beach litter and deposit in the recycling container that will be located at Bonnie’s Crafts at 635 Spring Street in Friday Harbor by 2 pm day of clean-up.

After party on San Juan: The Stewardship Network of the San Juans and San Juan Island Brewing Company are co-sponsoring an after party for clean-up participants at the brewery (410 A St.) in Friday Harbor from 3-5 p.m. Bring a picture of you participating in the clean-up and, as a thank you, you will get one pint of beer for a dollar between 3 and 5 p.m. There will also be a raffle for people of all ages including prizes from the Stewardship Network members.

All islands info below:

On Orcas Island: Come to the Eastsound Village Green on Sunday, April 22nd at 10 am to sign in. You will be given cleaning and safety supplies and be assigned an area of the island to cover. If you want to be a team leader or register a crew in advance, please email duff@exchangeorcas.org. See the Exchange website for more info www.exchangeorcas.org.

On Lopez Island: Meet outside Blossom Grocery at starting at 10 am on April 22nd to get your assignment. For more information contact Mike Moore (360-468-3362 or eroom@rockisland.com) or Kirm Taylor (360-468-2474 or kirmant@gmail.com).

On San Juan Island: For roadside clean-ups, contact Catherine Kenney (360-378-3658 or ckenney@islandersbank.com). For beach clean-ups, contact Jana Marks (378-2319 or jana@sanjuans.org)

read more
Katie FlemingJoin the 2018 Great Islands Clean-up on 4/22!

Friends Appeals the Tesoro/Andeavor Xylene Project

by Katie Fleming on April 5, 2018 No comments

On April 4, seven local and regional environmental organizations appealed Skagit County’s approval of a project that would ship hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic chemicals through the Salish Sea every year, much of it destined for Asia. The groups maintain that the approval for the Tesoro (recently renamed Andeavor) Anacortes Refinery petrochemical expansion project did not receive a proper review and that the environmental impact statement ignored threats to a healthy Salish Sea and livable climate. The coalition including Stand.earth, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Friends of the San Juans, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Evergreen Islands filed the appeal with the state Shorelines Hearings Board, challenging a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit that the Skagit County Board of Commissioners upheld on March 6. Nearly 7,500 public commenters had pressed Skagit County for a careful review, and nearly 200 citizens attended a February 27 hearing on the issue.

The coalition requests that the State Shorelines Hearings Board vacate the permit and require additional environmental review. That review, performed by Skagit County staff, failed to adequately consider the impacts from increased vessel traffic in the Salish Sea, increased risk of petrochemical and oil spills, increased emissions of greenhouse gases, increased impacts to air and water quality and increased threats to public health and safety. It also overlooked increased impacts to fish and wildlife resources — including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. Governor Inslee recently signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take aggressive action to recover Southern Resident killer whales because they are “an iconic and treasured species in Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

The groups are also appealing the decision to only require a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, instead of a stronger Shoreline Conditional Use Permit. The more rigorous permit is required when older facilities propose new uses in the shoreline area, and when large bulk transfer operations are involved. Because of the unique risks associated with these types of projects, the State Department of Ecology is responsible for approving shoreline conditional uses.

The groups’ appeal can be read online here.

Following the announcement, environmental organizations issued the following statements:

“This project’s potential for doing irreparable environmental harm to our Salish Sea is why our environmental coalition came together in a steadfast effort to hold governments and industry to the highest standards. Skagit County has failed to properly regulate new industrial activity and its impacts. This project will transform the existing wharf into a petrochemical export terminal, a new use that was never before been considered or approved. We are acting today to protect not only the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve and the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve – both with shorelines designated Shoreline of Statewide Significance – but also Fidalgo, Guemes, and Samish Islands,” said Tom Glade, President of Evergreen Islands.

“This project would increase air pollution, and that needs to be properly factored into the decision. Last year, the Shorelines Hearings Board ruled that Cowlitz County had improperly estimated the greenhouse gas emissions and impacts of a project in the same ways that Skagit County has now. We are confident that in this case too, the work will have to be redone.” – Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager for RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

“The Salish Sea is irreplaceable and this project unnecessarily puts it at risk. The Environmental Impact Statement was deeply flawed, failed to account for the acoustic impacts on Southern Resident Killer Whales and failed to account for the real risk of a worst-case spill. This project would mean 60 new petrochemical vessels coming to Anacortes every year. Many of these would be the under-regulated articulated tug barges (ATBs); in November 2016 an ATB ran aground, sank, and spilled over 100,000 liters of diesel near Bella Bella. Just one year later an ATB’s “emergency situation” came close to causing another spill in the same location in British Columbia. A spill from this project’s vessels could cause far greater environmental and economic impacts.” -Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director with Friends of the San Juans.

“We are going to keep pushing to get this right. Tesoro’s plan is to ship massive quantities of petrochemicals through the community. The environmental study downplays the the risk of a major spill and the impact from climate pollution” said Chris Winter, co-director of Crag Law Center (crag.org), which is representing the appealing organizations. “We can’t trust the oil industry to keep our communities and environment safe. This case is about holding industry accountable and protecting the public from yet another plan to export fossil fuels to foreign countries.”


Xylenes are toxic, flammable petrochemicals used to make plastic and synthetics. The Andeavor Anacortes Refinery petrochemical expansion project would add capacity and allow the refinery to begin producing and exporting 15,000 barrels (630,000 gallons) of xylenes per day for export to Asia. It would increase Salish Sea tanker traffic by an additional five tankers per month.

More than 7,500 people submitted comments on the project’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS), the majority of which asked Skagit County to address concerns over worker safety standards, petrochemical spills in the Salish Sea, risks to endangered orcas, massive increases in the pollution that causes global warming, and use of the new facility for crude oil export. Commenters also asked the county to separately review the xylene export and clean products upgrade components of the project, while properly accounting for greenhouse gas pollution.

In July 2017, Skagit County Planning and Development Services issued the project’s final environmental impact statement, just two months after the public comment period on the draft EIS. The final EIS did not adequately address concerns in many areas.

In November 2017, more than 100 people attended a public hearing on the project’s Shoreline Substantial Development Permit. The overwhelming majority of them were there to continue to highlight flaws in the project’s final EIS, and to call on the Skagit County Hearing Examiner to deny the crucial shoreline permit for the project.

On February 27, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners held a two hour hearing with presentations by attorneys for the appellants, and Tesoro and comments by parties of record. The hearing was attended by more than 100 people.  The Board announced their decision to uphold the Hearing Examiner’s decision on March 9.

read more
Katie FlemingFriends Appeals the Tesoro/Andeavor Xylene Project

Kyle Says Goodbye & We’re Hiring for a Staff Attorney

by Katie Fleming on February 8, 2018 No comments

After ten years of public service as Friends of the San Juans’ staff attorney, Kyle Loring will be leaving the organization in June to pursue other endeavors.

Starting this month, Friends will conduct a search for a talented environmental attorney to serve the people and wildlife of the San Juans. Since Friends hired Kyle in 2007, when he was an attorney at K&L Gates in Seattle, he has represented Friends in many of its efforts to conserve natural shorelines, protect healthy seas, and support a thriving community. Click here to see the job description.

Stephanie Buffum, Friends’ Executive Director, appreciates Kyle’s commitment to the organization and its members. “Kyle devoted himself to our community as soon as he landed here. With his help, we have preserved community treasures like fish spawning beaches, wetlands, and forest and farm lands. He has also contributed countless hours in his spare time to local endeavors like Leadership San Juan Islands, the Trails Committee, FANS, the mentoring program, and the Conservation District. We will miss his thoughtful and inquisitive nature, his sense of humor, and his willingness to play any role needed for our team.”

“It has been an honor to be able to dedicate myself to conserving the San Juans,” said Kyle, reflecting on his time with Friends. “I’m grateful that Friends chose me 10 years ago, allowing me to follow my passion and serve the people and the environment of this ecological jewel.” “While I plan to continue working for ecological preservation, I don’t yet know what form that will take. In the meantime, I think I’ll take a bike ride this summer. Anyone want to join me up and over the Rockies?”

read more
Katie FlemingKyle Says Goodbye & We’re Hiring for a Staff Attorney

It’s “The Last Straw” for the San Juans!

by Katie Fleming on February 6, 2018 No comments

Did you know that we use over 500 million plastic straws in the United States every day? And that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic trash in the ocean than fish? Friends of the San Juans and lots of local partners and volunteers are teaming up to help businesses in our community “stop sucking” and take action to reduce waste by getting rid of plastic straws and utensils. Cities including Miami, San Diego, and Seattle are participating in similar initiatives.

Click here to sign the online petition to show your support. Contact Katie at katie@sanjuans.org or 360-378-2319 if you want to help bring this effort to your island.

read more
Katie FlemingIt’s “The Last Straw” for the San Juans!

EFSEC Recommends DENIAL to Vancouver Tesoro Oil Terminal

by Katie Fleming on November 30, 2017 No comments
On November 28th, the Energy Council responsible for giving Governor Inslee a recommendation on how to proceed on the Vancouver, WA Tesoro Oil Terminal unanimously voted to disapprove the project.

Why? Because year after year 300,000 citizens have demonstrated by showing up, giving testimony, and being part of this coalition that this project is simply too risky and not in the best interest of the Pacific Northwest, our communities, and our climate.

What is next? The Council’s recommendation now goes to Governor Inslee to make a final decision. Once on his desk, Governor Inslee has 60 days to issue a decision.

We won’t let up until this project is done but for now, let’s celebrate and take a moment to thank all the people who have stepped up in opposition. This list is long – tribal members and leaders, public servants, doctors and other health professionals, community and environmental advocates, first responders, businesses small and large, labor unions, commercial and tribal anglers, families, people of faith and activists from across the region.

See the press release on this win and a short list of the press from yesterday. Let’s keep this up!

Seattle Times: Reject Oil-by-Train Terminal for Vancouver, WA

Portland Tribune: Washington Energy Siting Council Rejects Oil Terminal in Vancouver

The Columbian: EFSEC unanimous in vote against Port of Vancouver terminal

read more
Katie FlemingEFSEC Recommends DENIAL to Vancouver Tesoro Oil Terminal

Special Boat Trip! Learn about Smuggling Past & Future of Salmon

by Katie Fleming on August 1, 2017 No comments
We’ve got a few spots left on next week’s boat adventure – “Salish Sea: Smuggling Past and Salmon Futures.” Join us for this special trip!
Here are the details:
Tuesday, August 8, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Depart from Friday Harbor.
Admission: $135.00
The intricate waterways of the islands made the perfect place to catch fish as well as hideouts for smugglers. Hear stories of our fishing heritage and future and learn about the people and places that were involved with smuggling wool, liquor, people and wildlife.
Travel through Cattle Pass to the Salmon Banks for a first-hand look at the waters that are still are resource for native fisherman and whales. Learn about salmon populations in the San Juan Islands. And along the way, you’ll also be introduced to the fascinating stories of 150 years of smuggling in the islands.
With just 12 people aboard, this tour will be intimate and informed, providing in-depth knowledge about some of our islands history. The $135 admission fee covers the cost of the boat and is not tax-deductible. Click here to register now.
read more
Katie FlemingSpecial Boat Trip! Learn about Smuggling Past & Future of Salmon

Shifting Shorelines Sea Level Rise Workshops

by Katie Fleming on June 8, 2017 No comments

The San Juan Islands are one of the most beautiful places in the world. And increasingly vulnerable to more frequent and extreme storms that will affect the waterfront. But with good planning, we can protect the people and places we love.

Join us for a workshop about the best ways to protect waterfront properties and our community from coastal flooding and erosion, and how to care for the important habitats that will see changes as a result of sea level rise. There are a variety of low-cost steps you can take and a range of solutions available to island residents.

Attend one of these community sea level rise workshops to learn the latest science for our region, local vulnerability mapping and adaptation strategies, and how to protect your shoreline while building community resilience. Coastal experts from Washington Sea Grant, Coastal Geologic Services and Friends of the San Juans will be presenting. We also want to hear what you value most and how you think our community should prepare.

Lopez Island: Thursday June 29, 10:30am-12:30pm, Woodmen Hall

Orcas Island: Thursday June 29, 5-7pm, Eastsound Fire Hall

San Juan Island: Friday June 30, 11am-1pm, Brickworks

The workshops are free and open to all. Food and drinks provided. RSVP appreciated: www.sanjuans.org/upcoming-events, tina@sanjuans.org, or 378-2319.

Please help us spread the word! Click here to download a poster and/or share on Facebook (Lopez Event, Orcas Event, San Juan Event).

These workshops are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

read more
Katie FlemingShifting Shorelines Sea Level Rise Workshops

Read about The Tar Sands Threat to Northwest Waters

by Katie Fleming on May 25, 2017 No comments

Sightline’s new article, The Tar Sands Threat to Northwest Waters, by Friends board member Michael Riordan, explains how the Kinder Morgan Pipeline threatens all of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

“Every week another barge or tanker traverses the narrow straits through the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, bearing a cargo of tar-sands crude or other heavy oils from Canada, headed for refineries in Washington and California. But the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project approved in late 2016 by the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatens to make such transits daily occurrences, thus increasing many-fold the chances of a major oil spill in the Salish Sea and other Pacific Northwest waters.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety: http://www.sightline.org/2017/05/22/the-tar-sands-threat-to-northwest-waters/

Image above shows the results of computer simulations depicting how a major oil spill at the BC Ferry crossing would have spread in the summer of 2012. Adapted by Shaun Hubbard from Kinder Morgan report.
read more
Katie FlemingRead about The Tar Sands Threat to Northwest Waters

May 19 is Endangered Species Day – protect what you love!

by Katie Fleming on May 18, 2017 No comments
Endangered Species Day is May 19th. 113 marine species are formally listed as being at risk or vulnerable to extinction here in the Salish Sea. Here are five things you can do to help!
  1. Help preserve our remaining natural shorelines that provide essential habitat for marine species. View our latest video here to learn more.
  2. Purchase sustainably-harvested seafood at your local supermarket or favorite restaurant. Click here to learn more from Seafood Watch.
  3. Use beneficial landscaping techniques such as rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs and permeable paving to help reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and reduce runoff into ditches and storm drains.
  4. Do your part to dispose of unused medicine and chemicals properly. Never dump into household toilets and sinks or outside where they can get into ditches or storm drains.
  5. Help with the marine plastics issue and speak up for ditching plastic bags in San Juan County. Some of our local stores continue to use thicker plastic bags (considered reusable) after the single-use ordinance went into effect on May 1. It’s important these businesses hear from customers that we’ll happily support their move to stop using plastic bags at checkout. They care about what customers want – call today!
  6. Support Friends of the San Juans’ Endangered Species Advocacy work to make sure these species have their voice heard in decisions that impact their home.
We at Friends of the San Juans work every day to protect the species and places we all love. Thank you for your support!
read more
Katie FlemingMay 19 is Endangered Species Day – protect what you love!

Attend the Salish Sea Stands for Climate Action March!

by Katie Fleming on March 30, 2017 1 comment

Join us for a rally and march on April 29th in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in solidarity with the People’s Climate Movement Marches throughout the world. Plus the march will end at an electric vehicle and renewable energy fair!

The People’s Climate Movement and Mobilization is part of a larger strategy to push back on Trump’s agenda of climate denial and fossil fuel expansion, and show we support real climate solutions here in the San Juan Islands.

We need your energy, creativity, and leadership — to promote clean energy solutions in our islands and resist fossil fuel infrastructure projects. That’s our best chance of continuing to keep playing offense, even as we defend everything this administration wants to take away. Let’s mobilize!

We hope you’ll be part of it with us — and with the many partners and allies who are helping to make it all happen.

If we want to build the future we need, it will require us joining together to make change. See you on the 29th!

read more
Katie FlemingAttend the Salish Sea Stands for Climate Action March!