Opinion

Big dock, big boats, bad idea; here's why | As I See It

By Gretchen Allison

I am against the proposed dock for six large boats at the mouth of False Bay and here is why:

This sensitive habitat is an important territory for many species including the endangered orcas that use this area as their major feeding ground in the summers.

Marinas introduce toxic chemicals in the form of plastics from sanding and cleaning, detergents from boat washing, toxic compounds in bottom paint, insidious low level oil spills from bilges... and are subject to boat fires which release oil and toxic compounds.

The westside of San Juan Island is being seriously considered for a no-go zone for boats by the WDFW and the MRC, demonstrating the recognition of the government and scientific institutions that these waters are a vital habitat for the whales and chinook salmon. These boats and their corresponding noise and pollution flies in the face of this effort.

The prevailing winds would slam right into that southwest location, making the boats and dock vulnerable to storm damage, further endangering the habitat. The water under the dock at minus tides would be very shallow, meaning that prop-wash could be an issue for eelgrass.

The eelgrass survey that was done for this application was done in March, when it is at its seasonal low and may not represent what is there at other times of the year.

Precedent: There are virtually no docks on this side of the island and approving this project would open the doors to other similar development, leading to a cumulative negative environmental and aesthetic impact, as docks start to appear along the coves on the westside.

As a primary destination for tourists engaging in whale and wildlife tourism, the look of the bay and westside would take on a more industrialized appearance, degrading the aesthetics of this territory and the tourist experience.

We walk the bay regularly and enjoy it's unspoiled shoreline and rich animal life. A development at that location would interfere with our personal experience aesthetically and culturally.

This is a bad plan on other levels as well.

The False Bay preserve is used to study invertebrates by the University of Washington Labs. I wonder what an oil or chemical spill would do to all of the ongoing research that happens there?

I am a boater myself; keep my boat at a marina in town and appreciate the joys of boating and life on the water. These marina facilities on the island are available to the folks who want to build this dock on the westside, too. At the moment there is no waiting list at the port.

If you agree, please send an email this week to Samantha Gibboney at the planning department expressing your reasons for objecting to this project, No. PSJ000-14-0008, or, samg@sanjuanco.com

 

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