Letters to the Editor

Supports a strong Critical Areas Ordinance

An open letter to the San Juan County Council:

I recently attended a public meeting on the Critical Areas Ordinance, or CAO. I noticed that almost all of the questions to the speakers concerned how the economic interests of property owners could be protected, and how the impact of the CAO could be minimized for them.

Here’s an equally valid concern: How many compromises can happen before precious natural assets are seriously harmed? Natural resources need to be protected from property owners and their byproducts. The resources to be preserved are not just pretty flowers. There are obviously high-value assets, such as salmon.

It has been said that there are no studies that show a need for protection of some critical areas. This disregards the state’s precautionary principle — that is, where there is uncertainty whether or not an action will harm state resources, the decision will be made in favor of the resource. In other words, if you are not sure, don’t do it!

The burden of proof should not fall on those that would protect natural resources. For example, I want to build a house on Sandy Bluff. I say that I am not a polluter. Without a system of protection, I will build that house, which will (would, could) cause erosion and pollution (our hardware stores sell moss cleaner that “kills aquatic animals”).

The rest of Puget Sound, seemingly developed in a responsible way, now has serious problems, including a massive “dead zone” in Hood Canal. There may be similar dead zones in Friday Harbor and Fisherman’s Bay. Where else? We need to be concerned, and realize the value of the CAO.)

In the face of a barrage of concerns directed at loosening the protections of our natural systems, I implore you to hold the line, and support a CAO that gives protection to the beautiful natural systems that brought us here.

Mike Kaill
San Juan Island

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