Thriving Communities

Livable Communities

Photo by Mark Gardner

We love it here. So does everyone else. Let’s make sure it it isn’t loved to death.

The San Juan Islands are no longer a hidden jewel. Development pressures increase every year along with the growing population of residents and visitors. The bucolic landscapes that draw people to the islands will survive only through robust conservation efforts.

Fresh Water For All

Freshwater has always existed in limited supply in the islands. While the rest of Puget Sound relies heavily on snowmelt, the islands’ water comes primarily from the rain. The rainwater must meet all of the community needs, from drinking water to agriculture and from gardening to salmon habitat. Projections for hotter, drier summers increase the need to exercise careful water use. Friends advocates for policies that protect island freshwater supplies.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”

Thomas Fuller

Preserving Working Farms and Forests

San Juan County’s island farmlands and forestlands benefit islanders in many ways. They offer locally-sourced, delicious food and workable timber products with a small carbon footprint, playing an integral role in the long-term success of our local economy. And they provide some of the most iconic, stunning views in the islands. Friends takes the view that the San Juans can preserve precious aquatic habitats like streams and wetlands while supporting a vibrant farming and forestry sector. That belief has driven Friends to challenge the unnecessary conversion of resource lands to more intense development, to advocate for protecting farmlands by zoning them for long-term agricultural use, and to advocate against the transfer of water from farmlands to subdivisions.

Photo by Mark Gardner

Between 2007 and 2012 farmland in San Juan County decreased 27% in total acreage (21,472 to 15,669)*. This points to transition in our community, so let’s be smart about how we plan for it.

*Census of Agriculture, 2012

Photo by Mark Gardner

Safeguarding Habitat

Streams, wetlands, woodlots, and fields nurture a wide variety of plants and creatures, including those that have no other place to call home, like the Island Marble butterfly. For national treasures like the Island Marble butterfly, the tree frogs that usher in the spring, the cavorting river otters, and the bats who swoop through August skies, Friends advocates for strong local policies like a Critical Areas Ordinance that applies the best scientific information to protect upland habitats. When necessary, Friends also files legal challenges to restore wetlands from unpermitted development.

friendsDefending Our Land