livable communities

using robust conservation efforts to help keep our landscapes healthy and beautiful

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.

preserving workings 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.

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.

related news

Support and urgency grow for adding strong climate language to San Juan County’s Comp Plan

September 1, 2022

OPALCO, San Juan County’s cooperative energy provider, has announced its support for adding a Climate Change Element to San Juan County’s Comprehensive Plan. This support comes as the County prepares to finalize its first update of the plan in more than ten years. Authored by Friends of the San Juans (Friends) in collaboration with experts … read more

It’s important to us that any organization we are involved with actually gets things done, and the work that the Friends takes on so capably really does make a difference.

Ken and Mariann Carrasco

members, Orcas Island