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School Crossing Guard

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(-Rich Thompson photo)

San Juan School District Richard (Rick) Thompson got up at 3 a,m, this Friday morning to check snow conditions for the school buses, as he came to the end of his snow route he found a crossing snowman guard at on duty for the Friday harbor Elementary School (soon joined by humans).

Washington Joins Seven States On Finding Alternatives To Toxic Chemicals

OLYMPIA March 14, 2013 - Washington state, partnering with seven state environmental agency members of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2), has released a draft guidance document on finding alternatives to the use of toxic chemicals in products people use and ways to reduce risk to human health.

The draft document, called Guidance for Alternatives Assessment and Risk Reduction, is available for a 45-day public review and comment process through April 19, 2013.

“We welcome input, especially from those with industry experience in comparing the potential effects of chemical alternatives,” said K Seiler, manager of the Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program at the Washington Department of Ecology. “The goal of the voluntary guidance is to provide businesses with a flexible and effective approach to alternatives assessment.”

Alternatives assessment is a process that encourages companies to consider the potential harm that alternatives could have on human health and the environment before they are used in products. The IC2 states are working together to help develop common definitions and best practices through collaboration.

Safer alternatives and alternatives assessment are being used in the market place now. As published in a recent Washington Post article, “Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has banned a controversial flame retardant found in hundreds of consumer goods, from couches to child car seats. It has told suppliers to come up with safer alternatives.”

Seiler said: “When a company considers alternatives, it provides an opportunity to continually improve the everyday products that contribute to our quality of life in Washington. Alternatives assessment is a smart approach for businesses working to meet the growing consumer demand for greener products and services.”

The guidance is based on the alternatives assessment process pioneered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment Program. The IC2 is working with industry, EPA and others to share results and best practices among all the state members.

IC2 members have worked since 2011 to collaborate on the voluntary guidance so that individual states could provide technical assistance with interested companies. After input receiving on the draft guidance, the member states will invite businesses to pilot use of the process.

The public may submit comments on the draft through Friday, April 19, 2013 at this website: IC2 and Ecology contracted for this website to provide public outreach for the alternatives assessment guidance project

Name That Boat Contest

Here are the entries to date in the Name That Boat contest :

Shovel it!
The Taxpayee
de Costalot
Shell Game
Cast Away Loot
RU Sea-Rious?
Blow Hole
Ugottabee Kiddenme
Deficit Rose
Dream of the Levy Lift
Garbage Scow
Efficiency Now!
Solid Waste
Recycled Cans
Ripped Off 2
Shannon’s Legacy
Six Ayes
Deficit Duckie
Road Fund Raft
Lollygag Launch
Bucket O' Blarney
Money Dumpster
"Indefensible" (Warren Buffet's name for his corporate jet)
Shovel Leaner’s Launch
Paint it Yellow
Sick & Tired
San Juan Shame
Queen of Admin
Miss Management

San Juan County Has An Oil Spill Response Organization Ready & Willing

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(Randall Waugh & Don English lay out a boom during a drill -IOSA Photo )

By Jackie Wolf

The recent oil rig disaster and subsequent endless flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has once again raised the horrifying specter of a really big oil spill here in our own precious part of the world. Sitting as we do right in the middle of major shipping lanes, islanders pay close attention when a spill such as the Exxon-Valdez occurs and now the pouring of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

What many islanders are discovering as a result of this latest disaster is that, thanks to the awareness of so many of us, and the incredible spirit of commitment to protect this place, our own local oil spill response organization already exists.

It is non-profit and community-based, with over 300 island residents throughout the years who have taken the training that is freely offered several times a year in the islands by Islands' Oil Spill Association (IOSA), the only spill response group in the San Juans.

Nine thousand four hundred feet of IOSA-owned containment boom (plus another 4000' which IOSA manages) is ready for immediate use in the event of a spill. The boom is spread between 11 locations, all within 5 minutes of a launch site, which allows quick access to boom in all corners of the islands.

IOSA has six dedicated spill response vessels and we work with many trained responders who have their own workboats. Equipment trailers containing anchor systems, sorbents, pumps, skimmers and other gear are stationed at strategic locations throughout the islands, including the outlying islands of Stuart and Sucia.

Nearly 130 IOSA responders are also trained and have their state-required 8-hour certification for Oiled Bird Search & Rescue, Basic Care and Stabilization. At least 20 of these responders have put their name on the list to work down along the Gulf Coast if needed. As of this date, May 13, oiled wildlife responders from outside the region are not yet being asked to help but the situation is ever-changing.

In addition to classroom training, IOSA holds 5-6 on-the-water boom deployment/containment drills a year. IOSA crews have completed 68 site-specific field tests of protective booming strategies for sensitive areas/bays in the San Juan Islands and installed rock anchors in many locations where no other suitable shore attachment exists. Ongoing training keeps us prepared and allows responders to update their certification on a regular basis. It also allows new people to get involved in local oil spill response.

If you would like more information on our own community's preparedness for a major oil spill, as well as the smaller spills that frequently happen and have required a full IOSA response over 100 times, please go to the IOSA website at: Or call the IOSA office at 378-5322. There are many ways you can help. Watching the ongoing tragedy in the Gulf, one of the many things I feel is a strong sense of gratitude for IOSA and all the people in the San Juans who make IOSA the wonderful organization that it is."

(Jackie Wolf is the IOSA Coordinator )

SeaDoc Octopus Award For Support Of Ecosystem

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(Will & Eleanor Parks, Doug Charles of Compass wines with the Todd Spalti sculpture)

Local wine store receives the SeaDoc Society Octopus Award for its efforts to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems.

Thursday May 13, 2010, Orcas Island, Washington. Compass Wines, under proprietors Will Parks and Doug Charles, received the SeaDoc Society’s coveted Octopus Award. This award recognizes groups or individuals who go above and beyond to help the SeaDoc Society accomplish its mission to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystem.

During the last two years, Compass Wines has been instrumental in helping SeaDoc fund science needed to improve the health of local marine wildlife populations. In addition to being corporate sponsors for SeaDoc’s major Wine Fundraising Auction, Compass Wines also donates a portion of the proceeds from sales of their “Salish Sea” wine to benefit the SeaDoc Society.

Compass Wines’ support has helped SeaDoc carry out a number of scientific studies ranging from determining best practices for restoring endangered northern abalone, to investigating the origins of contaminants in killer whales. Joe Gaydos, SeaDoc Chief Scientist said, “Compass Wines has truly been like four extra pairs of arms for the SeaDoc Society over the last few years.”

Will Parks was honored to receive the award. Parks, who grew up spending time on Hood Canal and loves the ocean said, “It’s a great program and we are happy to give back to the community and our ocean.” Charles also has a great affinity for marine wildlife. Doug said was “inspired by SeaDoc’s work to find scientific solutions to the problems facing our local marine waters.”

The Octopus Award recognizes an individual outside of the SeaDoc program who has made significant contributions to the success of the SeaDoc Society. Past Recipients include Malcolm Goodfellow (2004), Patti Moran-Hodge (2005), John Klacking (2007), and Lynne Greene (2008).

The SeaDoc Society works to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education. A program of the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), the SeaDoc Society has a regional focus on improving the health of the Salish Sea. For more information see

Sustainable Living Fair Weekend

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(Yellow Island -with buildings no longer allowed in SJC)

The public was able to stretch their sea legs, put on hiking boots -or water shoes- and pick a field trip over land, sea or both for the countywide Sustainable Living Fair weekend that was held in May.
There were five trips for the choosing. All trips were coordinated by the Stewardship Network of the San Juans.
Yellow Island Wildflowers by Kayak

Yellow Island’s carpet of spring wildflowers wawere explored with Shearwater Kayak Adventures by paddling through the Wasp Islands, stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch. Then explored the trails of Yellow Island, with its abundance of native wildflowers. Lilies, shooting stars, camas, stonecrop, and even cactus are just a few of the species which bloom each spring on this Nature Conservancy preserve.

The Creatures of Indian Island

“What lives on and around Indian Island?” was a fascinating presentation about Indian Island and its environs by Russel Barsh and Madrona Murphy of Kwiaht. Dubbed the Indian Island Marine Health Observatory, local WSU Beachwatchers, Orcas Island students and Kwiaht have been working together to protect the East Sound marine environment through research and education.

Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead Tour

Winners of the 2009 “Finnie” for Farmland Stewardship, the Bullock Permaculture Homestead held a tour of their permaculture site. The Bullock brothers founded the homestead, near Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, in the early 1980s. Pursuing the three ethics central to permaculture design - care for the earth, care for people and fair share for all - the brothers grow vegetables, flowers and livestock in a manner that is in harmony with their surrounding environment.

Turtleback Mountain Hike

Kathleen Foley and Dean Dougherty from the San Juan Preservation Trust ledr a hike on Turtleback Mountain. Visible from throughout the islands, the mountain is especially well-known for providing dramatic views over the San Juan archipelago, the Canadian Gulf Islands, the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, and numerous waterways in between. The mountain has a wide variety of habitats and is home to an intriguing variety of plants and animals.

Geology of Sucia Island, a boating and hiking tour

For the “Geology of Sucia,” a boating and hiking tour with Shearwater Kayak Adventures involved hiking a total of approximately two miles over level ground. The short course covered the tectonic evolution of the Pacific Northwest, focusing on the intriguing geology of Sucia Island, including colorful Protection Formation b

The Sustainable Living Fair at the Village Green in Eastsound on May 1 and field trips the next day were cooperative efforts of the Stewardship Network of the San Juans and Sustainable Orcas Island. For more information, please visit the Stewardship Network website at

Western Grebe: A Vanishing Icon

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( Western Grebes' stepping out -Gumm-Poleschook photo)

Joe Gaydos of the SeaDoc Society will gave a talk on Western Grebes, iconic diving birds, once seen locally in the hundreds, are rapidly disappearing. With it, we are losing one of our most charismatic birds.

With folk names that include "dabchick", "swan grebe" and "swan-necked grebe" the Western Grebe is the largest of the North American grebes and can weigh up to 3 pounds, almost half the weight of a bald eagle. These large, black and white birds have a long neck and a sharp pointed bill designed to spear or grab fish. In fact, its bill is the source of the bird's Latin genus Aechmorphorus, meaning "spear-bearer. Fish, specifically herring, make up over 80% of the Western Grebes' diet.

In Washington, Western Grebes winter on marine waters and summer on freshwater lakes. They are strictly aquatic and never go on land. They even but build floating nests. Well known for their spectacular courtship display, male and female birds will rear up and patter across the water's surface in a breathtaking dance that makes a movie and dinner look like adolescent small talk.A century ago this bird's elegant, snowy-white plumage was nearly its demise when its feathers were used to decorate women's hats. Now the Western Grebe faces new challenges including derelict fishing gear, changes in prey abundance and loss of breeding habitat. Come learn more about these incredible birds and what is being done to save them.

The 2009/10 Marine Science Lecture Series is presented by program partners The SeaDoc Society and YMCA Camp Orkila.It is made possible through generous sponsorship by Tom Averna (Deer Harbor Charters), and The Gould Family Foundation and co-sponsorship by Barbara Brown, Eclipse Charters, The Kingfish Inn, Shearwater Sea Kayak Tours, Jim and Kathy Youngren and West Sound Marina.

Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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