Our passion is protecting the ecosystem health of the San Juan Islands and surrounding Salish Sea. We work in tandem with other local and regional groups to amplify our positive impact.

Co-leads:    Mary Gropp  marygropp10@gmail.com
                    Sarah Ross    sayrahross5@gmail.com

1/5/18 - From Janet Alderton:

You have the power: As residents of San Juan County, you have the power to help protect salmon and orca whales who depend on our natural shorelines for their survival. But only a small fraction of the habitats that are essential for salmon rearing are appropriately protected by the “Natural” designation. Failure to fully protect essential salmon habitats along our county shorelines will condemn the Southern Resident Killer Whales to certain extinction.

Our county has around 410 miles of shoreline. Please ask our three County Councilors to designate as “Natural” all ten miles of forage fish spawning beaches (only 2% of the 10 miles are now protected), all 29.5 miles of feeder bluffs that maintain the spawning beaches (only 15.5% of 29.5 miles are now protected), and all high use juvenile salmon shorelines that include eel grass meadows and kelp beds. These must be protected from new docks, shoreline armoring, and upland clearing of native plants within the full shoreline buffer.

San Juan County has maps of the entire county that show our undeveloped shorelines that host these sensitive areas. But the County has failed to protect most of them with the Natural designation. It actually decreased shorelines designated Natural by 1-½ miles compared to previous shoreline protections. Other shoreline protections were cut way back. House setback requirements have been reduced by measuring from ordinary high water instead of from the “top of the bluff”. Now 40% of the trees along the shoreline can be cut every 10 years and 20% of all types of vegetation can be removed every year in what is perversely called “The Tree Protection Zone”.

Our County Councilors:

Rick Hughes



Jamie Stephens  


Bill Watson  




Kinder Morgan Transmountain Pipeline Expansion

The largest pipeline expansion currently proposed in North America, the hotly contested KMTM Pipeline Expansion has already been green-lighted by Prime Minister Trudeau to bring crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands through the Salish Sea for export to Asia. This deadly tar sands crude oil, also known as diluted bitumen (dilbit), behaves differently in a spill than conventional oil - the heavier bitumen component sinks, leaving behind higher levels of the potent cancer-causing chemical benzene to poison wildlife and first responders. There is no known method to recover diluted bitumen in the sediment-laden waters of the Salish Sea.

Unless successfully challenged by Canadian tribes, the KMTM project is expected to increase oil tanker traffic through our waters sevenfold or 400 additional tankers per year, greatly increasing chances of a spill as well as threatening our endangered Orca whales. Lawsuits filed by Canada’s First Nations may be the only chance left to stop this dangerous expansion of oil traffic.

Learn More: http://crosscut.com/tag/trans-mountain-pipeline/
Dive deep: https://www.raincoast.org/2016/09/our-threatened-coast/
Donate to the First Nations legal fund: https://pull-together.ca/
Call: Senators Patty Murray (206) 553-5545 and Maria Cantwell (206) 220-6400


Oil Transportation Safety Bill (HB 1611)

A major oil spill of any kind in our waters would devastate our island’s environment and economy, threatening our way of life and the lives of first responders. The Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion raises this risk exponentially.

The Oil Transportation Safety Bill is a key piece of legislation in Washington State to help prevent spills, improve response to spills and hold the oil industry accountable. Highlights include:

  • Require tug escorts and other safety measures for certain oil tankers

  • Increase in tax on the crude oil received by a vessel to provide funding for oil spill response, including protective equipment for first responders. Our local oil spill response team currently doesn’t have the necessary equipment to respond to a major spill of tar sands diluted bitumen.

Learn more: http://invw.org/2017/03/30/oil-transportation-safety-bill-2017/
Dive deep: http://www.sightline.org/2015/01/12/fifty-years-of-oil-spills-in-washingtons-waters/
Take Action: The House finance committee amended the bill and it awaits a vote by the full house, but momentum has stalled. Sen. Kevin Ranker’s office recommends we call Representatives Kristine Lytton (360) 786-7800 and Jeff Morris (360) 786-7970 and ask for the bill to be put to a vote.


San Juan County 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update
Our county is in the process of updating its state-mandated Comprehensive Plan (often referred to as the “Comp Plan” or CP) which guides how and where we as a county will grow in the next 20 years and beyond. This is our opportunity to weave in sustainability goals and policies throughout many elements of the comp plan concerning land use, building standards, transportation, energy and more. We’re studying carrying capacity, quality of life, water availability, housing affordability, climate change impacts and other issues surrounding continued growth, and demanding our voices be heard to protect what we love most about these islands.

Learn more: http://www.sanjuanco.com/1079/Comprehensive-Plan-Update The County’s page where you can sign up for notifications of public meetings.

Coming soon: A group of engaged citizens are creating an in-depth website and an online forum.  To join the conversation, contact sandi@rockisland.com.


Endangered Southern Resident Orca Whales
The number of our resident orca whales is at its lowest point since 1985. Impacts from toxins in the water, vessel traffic and noise, and reduced supply of Chinook salmon continue to push these animals ever closer to extinction. In 2016, we lost “Granny” the 100+ year old matriarch of J-pod.  Dr. Deborah Giles, research director for the Center for Whale Research, said Granny was in an "emaciated state" in the photos NOAA's drone took. We’re supporting the following initiatives: