Friends of the San Juans

Did you hear what it will take? Watch our 2021 Annual Meeting!

by Friends of the San Juans on October 14, 2021 No comments

To those of you who joined us for our 2021 Annual Meeting – thank you!

To those of you who missed last week’s event — if only you could have been there! But don’t worry, here’s a link to the recording!

We witnessed compelling testimonials, gained insight during our engaging conversation with Lynda Mapes, and celebrated our achievements.

I encourage you to watch our Executive Director Brent Lyles’ segment where he shares the case for growing organizational capacity to address the challenges we are facing in the coming year and beyond.

We know the answer to what Lynda Mapes so clearly states – what will it take? We believe the answer is us. All of us. It will take you and Friends of the San Juans. Together we have what it takes to ensure we can make a difference to address climate change impacts to the islands, mentor our youth, and continue to advocate with policy and community involvement for the sustainability and resilience of our orca, salmon, forage fish, and natural shorelines.

We will need your financial support and we will need your voice.

Please donate online today or text the word “Friends” to 360-317-2610. You can also mail your check to Friends at PO Box 1344, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

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Friends of the San JuansDid you hear what it will take? Watch our 2021 Annual Meeting!

We’re hiring a Legal Director & Staff Attorney

by Friends of the San Juans on September 29, 2021 No comments

Friends is looking for a Legal Director and Staff Attorney (Legal Director) to join our team. The Legal Director leads our legal advocacy and litigation practice and participates in many other organizational activities, including policy analysis and advocacy, public outreach and education, fundraising, and coalition building. The Legal Director has a key role in implementing our mission to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature. Click here to see the full job description. 

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Friends of the San JuansWe’re hiring a Legal Director & Staff Attorney

Read our September Highwater Marks E-Newsletter

by Friends of the San Juans on September 11, 2021 No comments

Check out the September issue of our e-newsletter – Highwater Marks! You’ll learn about: registering for our 2021 Annual Meeting with special guest Lynda Mapes, how to engage with the San Juan County Council this week about important issues for our environment and community, the latest shoreline restoration project at Salmon Point on Lopez Island, our “friends” of Friends – plus more actions, news, and updates! Read it here.

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Friends of the San JuansRead our September Highwater Marks E-Newsletter

Words from the Next Generation: Gift and Responsibility

by Friends of the San Juans on September 10, 2021 No comments

As humans, we can manipulate and change our environment. In the last few centuries, we have abused this power, killing thousands of species, destroying entire ecosystems, and bringing the planet to the brink of irreversible, catastrophic climate change, and all that comes with it (such as widespread fires, extreme heat events, and increasingly powerful storms). Now we face our last chance to live differently, to treat our gift of influence over the environment with the respect it necessitates and to reframe it as our responsibility to be stewards of the planet.

Braiding Sweetgrass is a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a professor of environmental and forest biology and citizen of the Potowatomi Nation. In this beautiful book, she weaves indigenous teachings with scientific knowledge in a way that bridges two rarely combined worlds. One topic she writes about is the gift-responsibility connection. She asks, “What is the duty of humans? If gifts and responsibilities are one, then asking ‘what is our responsibility?’ is the same as asking ‘what is our gift?’”

If our gift is the capacity to influence our environment, then it is our responsibility to heal the planet that supports us. For some people, this might mean dedicating time and resources to protecting and restoring the natural world. For others, it might mean implementing small, tangible changes into everyday life to lessen their impact on the planet. And for many, this may mean becoming advocates for environmental stewardship.

Recognizing gifts and responsibilities as two sides of the same coin takes an ideological shift. We must reframe our mindset to recognize resources as limited, our ability to manipulate our environment as a tool for stewardship, a living planet as invaluable. Gifts given by the earth should be shared in gratitude and must be returned to the earth in reciprocity. To quote Robin Wall Kimmerer, “sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”

Written by Kaia Olson, high school junior from Spokane

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Friends of the San JuansWords from the Next Generation: Gift and Responsibility

Salmon Habitat Restoration at Salmon Point, Lopez Island

by Friends of the San Juans on September 10, 2021 No comments

It was an exciting week for local forage fish and out-migrating juvenile salmon as Friends of the San Juans and the Salmon Point Community have successfully restored priority shoreline habitat along their local beach.

At the south end of Lopez Island, two areas of failed rock armoring and rock fill were covering portions of a documented surf smelt spawning beach, negatively impacting the habitat available for forage fish to lay their eggs on. The beach is also in a priority area for out-migrating juvenile salmon, which feed on forage fish along with many other critters such as insects that benefit from a natural shoreline. Our endangered orca, of course, rely on healthy salmon populations.

Michael Budnick, of Northwest Concepts, implemented the project, which was designed by Coastal Geologic Services. Approximately 42 cubic yards of medium to large boulders along with four large toxic creosote logs were removed from the upper beach, along the forage fish spawning habitat zone. Last winter, to complement recent beach restoration actions, Flower Mountain Tree Service planted 220 native trees and shrubs along the shoreline. Restoration efforts were supported by a grant from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Salmon Point Community Association.

“The Salmon Point community members have been fantastic partners on this important project to improve habitat for spawning forage fish and juvenile salmon” notes Tina Whitman, Friends Science Director.

To learn more about Friends’ shoreline habitat restoration projects visit our restoration webpage.

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Friends of the San JuansSalmon Habitat Restoration at Salmon Point, Lopez Island

Tree protections? Planning for growth? Your help is needed by Sept 14!

by Friends of the San Juans on September 10, 2021 No comments

It’s time to spring into action! On the morning of Tuesday, September 14th, the County Council will hold a hearing on the 2021 docket. This year’s docket includes proposals for new tree-protection standards, stormwater-management standards, and doing an important “build-out analysis” for our County. These all deserve our community’s attention and support. The purpose of the Council’s hearing is to get public input — the County Council is asking to hear from you! You can write a letter or show up (virtually) to speak at the meeting, or both.

Why this is important:  

Here at Friends of the San Juans, we’ve spent a lot of time in recent months supporting the Planning Commission’s efforts to do the right thing with respect to environmental stewardship in our County. The Planning Commission has now sent its recommendations on the docket requests to the County Council, and it’s the County Council that makes the final decisions. Now is the time to speak out on these docket requests. Let’s make sure the County Council members hear from the public loud and clear when they are making their decisions.

There are eight docket requests in total, and here’s the rundown of where Friends of the San Juans stands on the four that we feel are especially important (see also Friends’ comment letter here, which provides additional details):

  • 21-0001, Commercial Composting on Agricultural Resource Lands — DISAGREE with the Planning Commission’s recommendation. There are LOTS of other places to put much-needed industrial composting operations in our County, other than on highly protected and highly valuable Agricultural Resource Lands. Those parcels were set aside for agriculture for a reason — let’s keep it that way. It makes a lot of sense for smaller-scale, site-specific composting to be co-located with farming and livestock, but industrial composting is a whole ‘nother thing; anyone who says commercial composting is compatible with agriculture operations probably hasn’t seen how big and industrial a commercial composting operation actually is.
  • 21-0003, “Build-Out Analysis” — DISAGREE with the Planning Commission’s recommendation.Despite a ton of public support for this, the County staff argued that doing a thorough build-out analysis isn’t feasible or valuable. To their credit, the Planning Commission tried to find a middle ground and ask for a more limited analysis, but the County staff is pushing back against that too. We agree that a full build-out analysis is a big project, but given the realities of rapid development in our County and the climate crisis, the information that our County would get from this kind of analysis is just simply too important to kick down the road any further.
  • 21-0005, Creating New Tree-Protection Standards — AGREE with the Planning Commission’s recommendation. We’re glad to see the County staff and Planning Commission members taking this seriously, and we’re delighted to support their recommendation to move forward with this.
  • 21-0008, Creating New Stormwater-Management Regulations — AGREE with the Planning Commission’s recommendation. Ditto for this one — we’re enthusiastic about getting moving on this much-needed addition to our County’s codes.

Click here to see the most recent memo about these docket requests from the County staff, which is helpful for getting the lay of the land on all eight docket requests — see especially the tables in the staff’s memo.

What’s next?

When people like you “lean in” and speak at a County Council hearing, it makes a powerful statement. Please consider showing up on the 14th, either by phone or via video: Click here for instructions on how to do that. Also, please consider writing a letter to the County Council, care of Sophia Cassam. If you’ve already written a great letter to the Planning Commission about the docket, feel free to resend that same letter again, this time to the County Council! And we’d encourage you to also send your letter directly to the Council member who represents your island. If it’s helpful, we’ve provided some tips on letter-writing on this webpage, and we also recorded a short video segment with the San Juan Islands Community Network about tips for engagement, which can be found here.

Thank you for speaking up! If you have any questions, please reach out to our Executive Director, R. Brent Lyles.

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Friends of the San JuansTree protections? Planning for growth? Your help is needed by Sept 14!

It’s time again for Coffee & Cocktails with Friends – Q&A with Friends’ Staff at the Virtual County Fair

by Friends of the San Juans on August 7, 2021 No comments

We are all ready for some new connections and opportunities. Through the Virtual Fair, you have an opportunity to connect with Friends staff, ask questions, and hear the passion that drives our mission.

Join us on the virtual couch for Q&A sessions with Friends Staff: Jess, Tina, and Brent; our student mentees: Ela and Linnea; plus a special appearance by Craig Canine from the San Juan Preservation Trust! It’s a unique chance to ask directly what you want to know about our work, get to know us better, and find out how your donation made an impact.

Thursday, August 19th at 10:00 am on Zoom. Coffee with Friends: Live Q&A with JessPacific Sand Lance and Green Boating. Register here.

Thursday, August 19th at 5:30 pm on Zoom. Cocktails with Friends: Live Q&A with Linnea and Ela: Student Research—Where island waste goes and what you can doRegister here.

Friday, August 20th at 10 am on Zoom.  Coffee with Friends: Live Q&A with Tina: Sucia Island Restoration. Register here.

Friday, August 20th at 5:30 pm on Zoom. Cocktails with Friends: Live Q&A with Brent: Engaging in San Juan County’s Comprehensive Plan Update. Register here.

Saturday, August 21st at 10 am on Zoom. Coffee with Friends: Live Q&A with Brent from Friends and Craig Canine from the San Juan Preservation Trust: How we work together and how the programs of these two organizations complement each other. Register here.

Click here to check out all the great offerings of this year’s San Juan County Virtual Fair.

We look forward to connecting with you soon!

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Friends of the San JuansIt’s time again for Coffee & Cocktails with Friends – Q&A with Friends’ Staff at the Virtual County Fair

Your Voice is Needed: A Landmark Opportunity to Protect the Salish Sea & Southern Resident Killer Whales

by Friends of the San Juans on July 22, 2021 No comments

This Tuesday, July 27, the Whatcom County Council will hold a public hearing and vote on whether to adopt a landmark ordinance to protect Cherry Point and the Salish Sea. Voices from around the region are needed to let the Whatcom County Council know that you support them in adopting this important ordinance that will also protect the San Juan Islands’ shorelines and marine waters. These code amendments are critical in helping to protect the endangered Southern Resident killer whales from additional vessel traffic impacts. Click here for more info and to take action.

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Friends of the San JuansYour Voice is Needed: A Landmark Opportunity to Protect the Salish Sea & Southern Resident Killer Whales

Words from the Next Generation: Parties without Plastic

by Friends of the San Juans on July 8, 2021 No comments

For many, summer is a time for gatherings with family and friends, now more than ever after a year of isolation. However, parties can become synonymous with plastic—food, utensils, cups, plates, even decorations all comprised of the everlasting polymer. To help you participate in Plastic Free July, this articleexplores alternatives to the conventional plastic-based party.

A meal is often at the center of a get-together, but food does not have to revolve around plastic. When planning a gathering, buying in bulk is often a good option for both plastic reduction and cost reduction, and opting for fresh, local produce and homemade goods can help eliminate plastic packaging. While this may seem overwhelming, organizing a potluck is a way to shift some of the responsibility to the guests while continuing to keep food-related plastic use low. Going beyond plastic, food waste can be a product of gatherings, so make sure to encourage guests to take home leftovers.

The largest contributor to waste at parties is usually cutlery and dishware. Fortunately, this is also the category with the most convenient alternatives. Paper, bamboo, or reusable materials such as metal and glass can be implemented for everything from straws to plates. However, be aware that greenwashing (falsely implying that a product is more environmentally friendly than it is) is common. A product may be loosely labeled as “biodegradable” with no legal consequences for its legitimacy. Sometimes the best way to avoid greenwashed products while reducing dish-based waste is to use reusable items; mason jars are a good option for a lower cost. You could also ask party guests to bring their own cutlery and dishware, and this could be made into an event: guests could vote on the best reusable items in various categories, for example “most quirky” or “most innovative.” Friends of the San Juans also has a set of reusable plates and utensils for thirty people available for borrowing; contact us if you would like to arrange to pick them up at our office in Friday Harbor.

Finally, there are opportunities to reduce plastic with party decorations and gifts. Recent studies have highlighted the negative impacts of balloon pollution. Balloons are one decoration easily replaced with alternatives such as streamers or bunting made of paper. Plastic tablecloths, too, can be swapped out for reusable fabric ones. Wrapping gifts in newspaper or paper grocery bags and forgoing bows and ribbons can help reduce present-related waste.

Gatherings and celebrations are hallmarks of summer, and a few creative solutions and alternatives can eliminate the use of plastic for these events. I hope this article has been a helpful starting point for your party, just one of many opportunities for plastic reduction on an individual level. Happy summer!

Written by Kaia Olson, high school junior from Spokane

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Friends of the San JuansWords from the Next Generation: Parties without Plastic