Gov. Inslee meets with orca advocates on top of Mt. Grant

Washington Governor Jay Inslee had a whirlwind visit to the San Juan Islands over Labor Day weekend. He visited John O. Linde Community Park and Mt. Grant where he was greeted by orca activists. On the rocky hills of the mountain they held banners encouraging the breaching of two lower snake river dams.

“I’ll bet you want to talk about salmon recovery and the snake river?” Inslee asked.

Inslee’s trip to the island coincides with his campaign for his second term as governor. He was favored in the Aug. 2 primary in San Juan County where he garnered 62.76, or 3,780, of the votes. He spent about an hour on the morning of Sept. 3 at a meet and greet at the local Democrat headquarters before briefly visiting the two sites.

“You can’t beat this,” Inslee said of Mt. Grant’s beauty.

The San Juan County Land Bank staff have submitted a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation program to assist with their portion of funding for the Mt. Grant project. The project is a partnership with the San Juan Preservation Trust. The Land Bank and Preservation Trust still need to raise about $385,000 or the land will be reverted back to the sellers.

At Mt. Grant, Inslee was greeted by several orca activist, including some from the Center for Whale Research.

Inslee asked them questions such as how important are Columbia river salmon to the endangered Southern resident orcas? One of the activist explained how historically Columbia River Chinook have been a main staple in the orcas’ diet, and the Southern residents continue to travel to the mouth of the Columbia in search of food. For more information on Orcas and Chinook, and breaching the lower Snake River Dams, see the Journal’s July 27 issue, “Where have all the salmon gone?”

From Mt. Grant, Inslee traveled back to town to stop by the John O. Linde Community Park on Carter Street.

“Do you guys mow this yourselves?” Inslee asked. “It’s very well maintained.”

San Juan Island Parks and Recreation District and Friday Harbor Athletic Association have collaborated to renovate the multipurpose field at the park. The project involves the redevelopment of the grading, drainage and irrigation at the site and will be developed for regulation length and width for multiple use. The primary recreational opportunity provided by the project is youth active play for soccer, lacrosse, and football. Park and Rec received a $158,977 grant to redo the multipurpose field. That funding will go towards 45 percent of the project; the remainder came from private donations totaling $194,307 for a project total of $353,284.

“When you talk about youth crime, there is no better preventative than athletics,” Inslee said.