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‘Friends’ evolves, invests, protects | Letters
In 1979, a handful of farsighted islanders founded Friends of the San Juans to protect the islands from the harmful impact of unplanned growth.
Since then, Friends work has evolved to include education, marine research, habitat restoration, environmental advocacy, and endangered species protection. Friends has invested decades of work in preserving wetlands, forests, and shorelines to support clean water, farmland, fish, and wildlife.
We provide information to island residents, realtors and builders. We believe that we can protect the environment, support farming, and develop in a responsible way.
We have restored acres of coastal lagoons, marshes, and surf smelt and sand lance spawning habitat. Our volunteers, members and staff have cleaned up miles of shoreline, defended agricultural lands, advocated against the conversion of agricultural resource lands, challenged the Georgia Strait Crossing pipeline and have provided comments on hundreds of county ordinances, local permits and state bills, including a big coal company that wants to ship millions of tons of coal per year through Cherry Point Terminal in Bellingham to Asia, spewing toxic coal dust, and putting our waters in risk of oil spill.
An oil spill from one of the 487 tanker ships projected to cross through Haro and Rosario straits would be devastating to our way of life. Our Chinook salmon depend on Cherry Point herring. An oil spill will decimate our herring, our salmon, birds, orca and our tourist-based economy… the reason that people recreate, work and retire here.
We work with businesses, schools, other non-profit organizations and concerned islanders when issues threaten our quality of life in the islands.
We believe that everyone (big coal, county government, and property owners) should play by the same rules with the same expectations. We support building in the right place and believe that development should protect clean water, shoreline and wetland habitat for all of our island neighbors, fish and wildlife. When development threatens these values, we get involved. We want you to be informed and stay involved.
I hope you will join us for a free “Wetlands and You” forum Feb. 21, at the Mullis Center, 3-5 p.m., to discuss wetlands, agriculture, construction and critical areas.
For more information on all of our work, please visit www.sanjuans.org.
Stephanie Buffum,Shaw Island
Editor’s note — Stephanie Buffum is executive director of Friends of the San Juans