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Interior Secretary: Federal lands in San Juans deserve immediate permanent protection

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar included the San Juan Islands in his list of ‘Crown Jewel’ federal lands deserving permanent protection. He delivered his recommendations to Congress at a press conference Thursday, November 10, 2011.

U.S. Senator Cantwell is leading legislation in the Senate and Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA-02)is leading companion legislation in the House that would turn several dozen cherished spots spread across the San Juan Islands into a National Conservation Area (NCA). They say this will ensure continued public access and protection of these pristine parcels.


Water right purchased to protect salmon in Cascade Creek

Collaborative partnerships have become the rule for protecting two of Washington's most precious resources – salmon and water. With the first permanent environmental water right purchase in western Washington completed October 22, 2009 Cascade Creek on Orcas Island has emerged as a living example that instream flow projects can benefit salmon and still meet the needs of the local community.



Groups want to refloat derelict vessel program

Help is on the way for efforts to round up and dispose of derelict vessels before they sink. Several groups have pitched in with donations to resurrect a previously shelved Derelict Vessel Program in San Juan County, where there are approximately 19 abandoned vessels around the islands needing attention.

In spearheading this effort the Friday Harbor Power Squadron is joined by the Common Sense Alliance, Roche Harbor, San Juan Island Yacht Club, Island Marine Center on Lopez, and Jensen's Shipyard. These local groups (of private citizens and businesses) have united in a display of community spirit to raise the minimum funds necessary to assist the County in reviving the program that ceased operations in December 2008 due to lack of funding.



Shoreline Habitat improved along Lopez Island’s Barlow Bay

barlowsmLast week, Friends of the San Juans enhanced habitat for beach spawning forage fish along Barlow Bay at the south end of Lopez Island. Over the years, substantial rock from road protection efforts has fallen onto the middle and upper portions of the beach, degrading habitat at one of only nine known Pacific sand lance spawning sites in San Juan County.

Sand lance are a key food item for many fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, including salmon and bottomfish. Sand lance lay their eggs on sandy upper beaches. Land use practices, especially armoring, can easily damage this valuable and limited shoreline zone.

Local contractor Michael Budnick, hired by FOSJ, restacked rock along Barlow Bay's public and private roads, improving the spawning beaches and repairing the failing road protection.

"The Friends of the San Juans' habitat restoration project was a win win for everyone" states San Olson, FOSJ board member and neighborhood resident, "while the primary objective was to enhance critical spawning habitat and support marine food webs, we were also able to use the rocks removed from the beach to fill gaps and improve protection along the road". Thanks to San Juan County Public Works, Barlow Bay shoreline property owners and the Salmon Point Community for their support of the project. Also thanks to the Washington State Salmon Recovery Board provided for funding this small but important restoration project.

For more information on priority shoreline habitats and species, or the work FRIENDS is doing throughout the county to protect and restore them, visit www.sanjuans.org.


Seattle Land Use attorney hired by CSA

Land Use Attorney Sandy Mackie of the Perkins Coie Law Offices in Seattle has been hired by Common Sense Alliance (CSA), a local group whose mission is educate islanders, the San Juan County Council, county staff and the county Planning Commission about the law and process regarding updates to the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) and the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP).


Conservation Partners transfer ownership of Waldron Island Preserves

Ownership of Cowlitz Bay and Bitte Baer Preserves on Waldron Island is changing from the Nature Conservancy to the San Juan Preservation Trust. Purchased separately in the early 1970s with the support of donations from the Waldron Island community, these two properties were among the very first private lands to be permanently conserved in San Juan County.

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