Latest News

We’re Hiring a Development Coordinator

by Katie Fleming on May 18, 2018 No comments

Position Summary: Friends of the San Juans seeks a new team member to lead day-to-day membership cultivation and stewardship, including gift solicitation, membership renewals, database management, and major donor communications. The candidate should be organized, flexible, able to work independently, and be an excellent communicator both in person and in writing. At least one year of non-profit fundraising experience is a must. Job is based in Friday Harbor. For more details go to

Please send cover letter, resume, and 3 references (all in one pdf file) to by June 4. Position open until filled.

Compensation:  Position is 50% with opportunity to grow. Friends of the San Juans offers a benefits package that includes 403(b) with employer match. Compensation is dependent on experience.

Job Responsibilities include:

  • Lead day-to-day member stewardship, including gift solicitation and membership renewals, database management (including donor entry and donation deposits), gift acknowledgment, email list updates, and responses to member requests/questions.
  • Lead fundraising mailings and track results.
  • Board development and coordination.
  • Assist with scheduling for the Executive Director.
  • Plan and implement events.
  • Represent FSJ at community events as needed.
  • Assist with administrative duties as needed.
  • Volunteer management.


  • Experience: Associates or Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent work experience) and relevant administrative/operational experience, 1 year of fundraising experience with a non-profit, computer fluency (Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). Donor database experience.
  • Communication skills: Excellent written and oral communication skills; strong editing and proofreading experience, ability to capture written style/voice of the organization and the person you are representing in communications.
  • Interpersonal skills: Strong interpersonal skills, confidence, gracious, calm under pressure, not easily aggravated, able to interact at all levels of the organization, from the Board of Directors, to staff and members.
  • Organizational skills: Proactive, well-organized, attention to detail and able to meet deadlines, ability to work with minimal supervision and manage multiple tasks, assignments, and priorities.
  • Flexibility: Able to work in a fast-paced, highly productive environment, serve in multiple roles and comfortable with changes in priority and direction (and a willingness to work extra hours if necessary).
  • Dedication: Interest in and commitment to performing essential duties to achieve the mission.
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Katie FlemingWe’re Hiring a Development Coordinator

Mud Bay Event – Hands-on Beach Activities May 26 on Lopez!

by Katie Fleming on May 17, 2018 No comments

Friends of the San Juans, the San Juan Preservation Trust, and Lopez smelt fisherman Randy O’Bryant invite you to spend an afternoon surveying for incubating surf smelt eggs and conducting a shallow water beach seine. Learn more about the fish that share your shoreline and how you can help protect and improve their habitat into the future.

Please join us at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday May 26th at the end of Mud Bay Dock Rd. Please park near the houses at the end of the road. Please wear shoes (or ideally boots!) that can get muddy and/or wet. Rain or shine.

For more information or to RSVP contact Tina Whitman at Friends at 360-378-2319 or

Please spread the word by forwarding this email or sharing the event on Facebook.

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Katie FlemingMud Bay Event – Hands-on Beach Activities May 26 on Lopez!

Stand strong with BC and First Nations against Kinder Morgan

by Katie Fleming on May 5, 2018 No comments

Kinder Morgan Canada announced that it’s suspending “all non-essential activities and related spending” on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, and won’t move forward with the project without “the ability to construct through British Columbia” and “adequate protection” of Kinder Morgan shareholders.*

We want them to suspend this pipeline project for good! Let’s stand with our B.C. and First Nation neighbors fighting against it! 

Please call or send a message to Washington’s Governor Inslee – thank him for opposing this project and ask that he continue to state his strong opposition to the pipeline expansion – including the expansion of the Puget Sound Pipeline in Washington State.



Call: 360-902-4111

Talking points:

  • Thank you for your opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion!
  • Please continue to oppose this project and stand with B.C. Premier John Horgan to send a clear message to the world: The Pacific Northwest is united against dirty tar sands oil, and Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tankers have no place here.
  • This pipeline and tanker expansion’s increase in oil spill risk threatens the ecological destruction of our salmon and Southern Resident Killer Whales. Our economy and livelihoods depend on clean water, clean air, and a vibrant Salish Sea.
  • Washington already receives Canadian tar sands crude oil from the Puget Sound Pipeline, the southern spur of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline. Kinder Morgan plans to more than double the throughput of the Puget Sound Pipeline. This puts Washington squarely in the middle of another fossil fuel expansion fight. I urge you to affirm publicly that our state will not accept such an expansion under your watch.
  • The San Juan Islands are surrounded by this expansion: The Puget Sound Pipeline’s additional 260,000 barrels per day to Washington State’s four northern refineries and the additional 348 tankers per year in Georgia Strait, Boundary Pass, Haro Strait, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • This pipeline and tanker expansion project is a direct affront to U.S. Tribal Treaties and First Nations’ sovereignty. I stand with Tribes and First Nations in opposing Kinder Morgan. Please do everything in your power to honor the treaties.
  • As our Governor, I ask that you use your position to represent all Washingtonians and our shared waters, salmon, orcas, and climate in opposition to this project.

And/or you can sign onto these letters:

Sierra Club

Washington Environmental Council

Please act soon! Kinder Morgan plans to make a go/no-go decision by May 31.


*Press release: Kinder Morgan Canada Limited Suspends Non-Essential Spending on Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state is ‘allied’ with B.C. against Trans Mountain pipeline

British Columbia files case, may delay Kinder Morgan pipeline

Chiefs from 133 First Nations join fight against Kinder Morgan pipeline and oilsands expansion

Justin Trudeau’s Two-Faced Climate Game

Kinder Morgan’s Oil Spill Problem

Sierra Club BC Video


Day of Action: The Fight for an Oil-free Salish Sea

Sunday, May 20, 2018. 10:00am. Rally at Occidental Park, march to Seattle Waterfront.

Illustration credit: San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping

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Katie FlemingStand strong with BC and First Nations against Kinder Morgan

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, 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 (, 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.

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Katie FlemingFriends Appeals the Tesoro/Andeavor Xylene Project

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 or 360-378-2319 if you want to help bring this effort to your island.

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

Friends Appeals San Juan County’s Shoreline Master Program

by Friends of the San Juans on January 3, 2018 No comments

Friends of the San Juans Appeals the San Juan County Shoreline Master Program for Failure to Protect Orca, Salmon, Forage Fish and Beaches

On December 22, the Friends of the San Juans (Friends) appealed San Juan County’s recently updated Shoreline Master Program (“SMP”) to the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. The SMP is the primary tool for protecting the fragile marine ecosystem that depends on the health of that narrow band of shoreline where the water meets the land. In October, San Juan County and the Washington Department of Ecology rejected requests by many public commenters and adopted an SMP that Friends believes rolls back important protections for natural beach building, fish spawning beaches, and shoreline views.

Of greatest concern to the Friends are the likely indirect impacts that occur on the dwindling population of Southern Resident Killer Whales (“orca”) who frequent San Juan Islands waters every summer in search of their favorite food, Chinook salmon. The population has plummeted to 76 members and could fall still further if nothing is done to counteract their decline.  Particularly worrisome are adverse impacts to our forage fish spawning beaches and the threatened juvenile Chinook salmon that rear along our shorelines— and by extension to endangered orca higher up the food chain.

“Our County has said that protecting orca and helping recover Chinook salmon is a priority, yet this SMP failed to designate protections for the vast majority of forage fish spawning beaches and the bluffs that supply sand to many of those beaches,” stated Friends of the San Juans Executive Director, Stephanie Buffum. “And it went a step further and removed clauses that prevented development that disturbed spawning areas and allowed bulkheading that would seriously disrupt the creation of beaches from bluff erosion. The SMP essentially ignored the past 20 years of science that located important areas and identified the types of development that impacts them the most. We have to get this right, our orca depend on the San Juans,” added Buffum.

“The decisionmakers will tell you not to worry because the SMP mentions ‘no-net-loss,” according to Friends’ staff attorney, Kyle Loring. “But no-net-loss is just jargon for an experimental program that trades new impacts to sensitive areas for unproven efforts to improve other habitats.” The problem is that the scientific literature uniformly condemns this sort of ‘biodiversity trading’ scheme. “And not everything is exchangeable. Just ask our orcas – they’ll tell you that a Pink salmon is not a Chinook salmon.”

“There isn’t a single issue in our appeal that will come as a surprise,” said Tina Whitman, Science Director of Friends. “Since 2011, Friends of the San Juans and other concerned groups and citizens have been providing detailed comments about the failure of designations to protect the most important places: the ten miles of forage fish spawning beaches, the 30 miles of bluffs that create and feed our beaches.”  The reason we update the SMP is to incorporate new information and make sure our policies reflect community values. “This effort failed on both counts,” Whitman concluded. “This community wants improved protections for salmon and orcas.”

“We have worked tirelessly for over 6 years to avoid having to appeal, but unfortunately, the new SMP just fails our community in too many ways and it sets the stage of the next twenty years of development along our shorelines,” stated Friends’ Board President San Olson. “The whales just don’t have that kind of time left.”

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Friends of the San JuansFriends Appeals San Juan County’s Shoreline Master Program

Look what we all did in 2017!

by Friends of the San Juans on December 21, 2017 No comments

All of us at Friends of the San Juans are very appreciative of our members and partners as we reflect on 2017 – thank you for being part of our community who cares deeply for orca, salmon, clean water free of Atlantic salmon netpens and oilspill free oceans.

We wanted to give you an update on some of the work we’ve accomplished together this year!

2017 highlights…
  • The County-wide plastic bag ban we helped advocate for went into effect on May 1!
  • Our shoreline guide was mailed to all shoreline property owners in San Juan County. As a result, 60 waterfront landowners signed up for site visits that will help them better understand how to steward their property to support our important food webs.
  • We co-hosted the Inter-tribal Canoe Journey at English Camp and Lopez Island in July. This was the largest gathering of northwest tribes on San Juan Island in 150 yearsClick here to see a video.
  • Island youth built 2 cedar strip canoes with a Lummi master carver, participated in climate education programs, and explored the islands with us this year. We’re so inspired by the next generation.
  • Islanders expressed broad support for safer options for cycling and walking in our community. Look for possible legislation in 2019 that could make San Juan County eligible for funding for multi-use paths and shoulders.

Together let’s take bold and effective actions to continue to protect what we love in 2018! We will keep you posted on all the ways you can engage with this important work in the new year. In the meantime, have great holidays!

Thank you for your support!

Katie, Kyle, Tina, Patricia, Shannon, Jana, and Stephanie

P.S. If you have already given to Friends this holiday season – thank you so much! If you haven’t, please help us meet our $50,000 matching gift for all donations received before December 31, 2017. Double your impact with a gift today!

 (Pictured above: Our Washington Conservation Corps partners on Shaw Island in October. This restoration project removed angular rock from a forage fish spawning beach, which will support the salmon, seabirds and marine mammals we all love!)
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Friends of the San JuansLook what we all did in 2017!

Citizen Scientists Needed! Help us Document King Tides

by Friends of the San Juans on November 30, 2017 No comments

Do you have a digital camera or camera phone? If so, help local and regional researchers capture this year’s King Tides!

Join Friends and king tide volunteers from your community and across the globe to document the year’s highest tides by taking photos of your favorite local shorelines. See below for this season’s King Tides (December 4 – January 7). Images with some recognizable feature such as a road, unique rock or tree, a recognizable public place or building are the most effective (like the one of Crescent Bay Road on Orcas Island above). If possible, take a photo from the same vantage point at an average high tide or even a low tide.

A “King Tide” is the highest predicted high tide of the year at a given coastal location. These highest tides occur naturally when the sun and the moon align, increasing the gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans. This only happens one to two times per year. Click here to learn more about the science of how the high tides happen and what they show us.

Send your pictures to with information on when and where the picture was taken. By sharing your pictures you will help our community see the future. Visualizing sea level rise can help us understand how to reduce future impacts. Friends will compile and share these pictures as one part of our ongoing efforts to promote habitat friendly sea level rise adaptation projects throughout the islands.

Always remember – your safety is more important than an image, so use caution in high wave or high water events.

2017-18 Winter King Tides:

Date Approximate Time* Predicted High Tide**


December 4, 2017 6:30am 8.5
December 5, 2017 7:00 am 9
December 6, 2017 8:00 am 9
December 7, 2017 9:00 am 9
December 8, 2017 10:00 am 9
December 9, 2017 10:30 am 9
December 10, 2017 11:00 am 8.5
December 21, 2017 8:00 am 8.5
December 22, 2017 9:00 am 8.5
December 23, 2017 9:30 am 8.5
January 3, 2018 7:00 am 9
January 4, 2018 8:00 am 9
January 5, 2018 8:30 am 9
January 6, 2018 9:00 am 9
January 7, 2018 10:00 am 9


*Note: times are approximate for Friday Harbor station, anytime from 1 hour before to 1 hour after approximate time appropriate for field photographs.

**Note: tidal elevations are NOAA predicted (not observed) tides.  Additional factors such as low barometric pressure, wind waves, and/or the shape of a beach can increase tidal elevations above predicted levels.

Additional Resources:

Friends of the San Juans Sea Level Rise Resources

Washington Sea Grant King Tides Site

The WA Dept. of Ecology and WA Sea Grant photo sharing website

Tides, King Tides & Storm Events Article by Jefferson County WSU Extension

International King Tides Site

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Friends of the San JuansCitizen Scientists Needed! Help us Document King Tides

“Rocks Off the Beach” Project Completed on Shaw Island!

by Friends of the San Juans on October 25, 2017 No comments

Spawning habitat for the surf smelt, a small fish important in marine food webs, just got a whole lot better at a local beach thanks to the hard, and often muddy, work of public service organizations, contractors, landowners, community members and school kids. Over the past few weeks 600 linear feet of shoreline has been improved along Shaw Island’s Blind Bay, a priority forage fish spawning region in the county. The surf smelt that spawn year round on the beaches of Blind Bay require small gravel and sand to successfully incubate their tiny eggs. Friends of the San Juans led efforts to remove large angular rock that over the decades had fallen from armoring structures and covered large portions of the natural beach.

Work occurred at two locations along the bay, with different restoration methods. At one site, which hosted large volumes of rock slated for removal, Friends of the San Juans contracted with Shaner Excavating and Tree Service of Orcas Island to mobilize large equipment and mechanically remove about 120 cubic yards of large rock. A combination of sand and small gravel nourishment material, also known as ‘fish mix,’ was then brought in to restore suitable spawning substrate to the impacted beach.

At a second smaller site, with a much thinner layer of angular rock, Friends worked with a Washington Conservation Corps crew, Shaw School students, and community volunteers to enhance the spawning site. Over 6 cubic yards of rock were removed from the beach surface, unburying the naturally smaller grained beach below. The cleared rock was placed into large bags and will be picked up for upland disposal by Hardy Schmidt Excavation of Shaw Island.

“Participants from the Shaw School and the WA Conservation Corps were so inspiring- they were enthusiastic, really got the connection between beaches and species further up the food chain such as salmon, seabirds and whales, and worked incredibly hard to remove a lot of rock despite a wide range of weather conditions” noted Friends Science Director Tina Whitman.

Friends of the San Juans will continue its work with local students to monitor the site and document potential changes in the distribution, density or success of incubating surf smelt eggs.  Special thanks to all the work crews, project designers at Coastal Geologic Services, and the multiple private landowners who participated in the project.

Funding for the project was provided by the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Friends members.




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Friends of the San Juans“Rocks Off the Beach” Project Completed on Shaw Island!