Letters to the Editor

Get involved in the Critical Areas Ordinance discussion

I spent a career in Alaska, watching clear-cuts take place. And sitting in lectures in which “biologists” told us that clear-cuts were GOOD for deer. Yeah. With slash 8 feet deep, hillsides eroding into the streams in the rain, and drying up when it was sunny.

Unhappily, similar things are happening around here. Not as bad as clear-cuts, or maybe they are as bad, everything considered.

The County Council is allowing docks to punch right through eelgrass beds, allowing sea walls to be built to protect LAWNS. These things directly impact rearing areas for salmon, crab, and other things we want. Ironically, we are spending millions of dollars to bring back salmon, while at the same time, allowing special-interest groups to do things that help destroy those same salmon, crabs, etc.

And now, the kerfluffle about the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). Let’s focus on shorelines. There is a huge turnout of special interests to stop logical protection of shorelines. If the natural vegetation (lawn does not do the job!) is taken out, the shoreline is much less stable. If the shoreline erodes, spawning beaches (for fish that are salmon food) are damaged. If there is not a buffer, things in the stormwater can reach marine waters.

And remember, I have been fighting to keep my marine creatures alive in the Spring Street Aquarium for more than a year. Thanks to the town, things are better, but not fixed. Why is the aquarium still getting toxic water from Friday Harbor? Because Spring Street storm water has no natural filtration and processing of roots, soil microbes and oxidation. The water runs right from your car drippings, Aunt Mable’s rose spray, Joe’s weed-and-feed, into the harbor — where, since it’s toxic, it kills marine animals.

I recently read a good article on Minnesota, why they elect these bizarre politicians (like the wrestler, and now the comedian). It turns out that Minnesotans pay attention. When the politicians stop doing their job, the Minnesotans get someone in there to shake things up. And it works.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not running for office. But I would like to ask the question: Why do these special interests have so much power? The shoreline belongs to us!

To me, it would seem reasonable that we would protect our natural resources. I never hear the special interests argue on merit. That is: “We don’t need erosion protection.” The best scientists in the university, the county, the state, the U.S. government, are all telling us how to keep banks stable, so that our marine ecosystem can not just be healthy, but recover.

If you live here, if you fish, if you crab, if you like to walk on the beach and see a healthy shoreline, please participate in the CAO discussion. Support the recommendations of the people that study this stuff for a living. For example, 100-foot (150-foot would be better) setback from the shore to allow stabilization, and groundwater processing.

Mike Kaill
Friday Harbor

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