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April 22: San Juan County's Climate and Sustainability Committee will launch

PRESS RELEASE: On April 22, 2022, an expected billion people around the world will take action to protect our planet in observance of Earth Day. On the eve of Earth Day, April 21, a group of citizens in San Juan County will come together to launch the work of the newly formed Climate and Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Here in the islands and around the world, we’ll be united under a common goal -- the theme of this year’s Earth Day event -- to Invest In Our Planet.

While San Juan County has invested in the environment for more than a decade, last year County Council elevated the environmental resources team to the Department of Environmental Stewardship and added the Climate and Sustainability program to acknowledge the importance of this work.

The Climate and Sustainability Advisory Committee will advise on policy, help set priorities, and harness the momentum of existing work to help steer the County’s climate action plan.

We are pleased to introduce the new committee members, appointed by the County Council on April 5, who will bring their expertise and experience to help launch this work.

District 1 - San Juan Island

Vincent Dauciunas, retired electrical engineer, currently on Opalco Board of Directors

Adrian Kilpatrick, design/build business owner, farming/permaculture design specialist

Barbara Marrett, Friday Harbor Port Commissioner, stewardship and conservation background

District 2 - Orcas Island

Janet Alderton, retired research biologist, active in conservation and planning

Jay Kimball, climate change consultant, focus on mitigation, planning, and communication

Michael Shanks, OIHS Spanish teacher, climate change educator

District 3 - Lopez/Shaw Islands

Chris Greacen, renewable energy and rural development consultant, active in school initiatives

Renee Koplan, Lopez Hospital District Interim Superintendent, biology/zoology background

Oliver Whitfield, retired aerospace engineer and inventor, currently on Opalco Board of Directors

Youth Representative

Luke Fincher, current senior at FHHS, active community/conservation volunteer, pursuing dual major in Environmental Science & Psychology

County Staff Representative

Kendra Smith, Department of Environmental Stewardship Director

Our community has responded with a groundswell of support for the formation of the County’s new Climate and Sustainability program. It is very apparent that county residents care deeply for the islands and are ready to take action to protect and preserve our home. The community is invited to take part in our committee meetings; please watch this page for meeting details.

But outside the meeting room, citizens play a critical role in creating a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.

Here are three ways you can take action this Earth Day, and every day:

1. Cut your lawn in half and rewild

Consider removing half your lawn (or more) and returning it to a natural state. Here in the San Juans, our land naturally supports a host of native flowers, grasses and trees. Not only will this help reduce significant emissions from lawn mowers and leaf blowers, it helps build critical biodiversity and conserves precious water resources.

2. Eat less beef, more plants

Beef production has a considerable environmental impact due to greenhouse gas emissions and land and water degradation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change and recommends reduced meat consumption.

3. Drive less

The math is simple: burn less fuel, generate fewer emissions, slow the pace of global warming. As we step into springtime, look for opportunities to leave the car parked and choose to walk, bike, or rideshare instead.

Thank you for joining us in this partnership for the islands, and for the planet

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