Thoughtful Land Use

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 wild and pastoral landscapes that draw people to the islands will survive only through robust policy and conservation efforts.

Local land use policy has a major impact on the community fabric and landscapes that make the San Juan Islands so special. Our skilled experts keep a watchful eye on the latest regional legal, science and policy decisions that help bring people and nature together in harmony.

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. We believe that our communities can preserve precious aquatic habitats like streams and wetlands while also 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 Wild 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 wild habitats from unpermitted development.

Fresh Water

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.

Sea Level Rise

In the face of rising sea levels and climate change, Friends of the San Juans helps landowners and land use professionals understand shoreline management options. Through site-specific technical assistance, Friends can help you protect property and maintain important ecological resources such as water quality and wildlife habitat.

Stay in the know.

* indicates required
Which emails are you interested in receiving?
Do you have any islands of particular interest?

We believe that our property is more valuable if we and our neighbors protect the shoreline. Orcas need salmon. Salmon need forage fish. Salmon and forage fish need the protection of eelgrass and kelp. Eelgrass and kelp need clean water. Shoreline protections are good for ecosystems and for the long-term economy of these lovely islands.

Val and Leslie Veirs

members, San Juan Island