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Friday, April 11th

Lab Rats


The white bearded scientist scowled as he scraped the gooey substance out of the Petri dish. Some of the foul smelling matter dripped onto his lab coat and he swore angrily. When he loaded the slide and slipped it under the microscope he knew he had found evidence of “anthropogenic distress”. This was not some unknown virus. This was something much more pervasive. The scientist had discovered evidence of human activity in the natural marine environment and he was really ticked off!

Today there are many mad scientists. Not mad like Dr. Frankenstein. No. Their anger is righteous. They know what is best for us. They just lack the required consent to force their point of view upon the unwashed populace. They are extremely frustrated because some people don’t share their ideas about science and the environment.

Science has evolved from the time when man thought he was the center of the universe to today where obviously even a fish like the snail darter is superior to man. According to popular scientific consensus wherever there is conflict between humans and natural ecosystems the needs of man are subordinate.

Today this concept is called “best available science” and it is used as a weapon by an elite group of enviro-fundamentalists to bludgeon those of us who need to work and want to live and enjoy life in these islands. Those who claim ownership of this tool wish to see human activity in the islands severely restricted. They don’t want anthropogenic distress stinking up their ecosystem. To accomplish this they need to create marine sanctuaries so they can experiment in the name of preservation ‘till their heart’s content.

Locally, a small group of like-minded people including the Marine Resources Committee, along with many environmental and government groups are taking the position that the islands should be designated for research only. According to their plan all other uses will be subordinate to science. They trust the Department of Natural Resources to manage it all for us.

There is a small problem with this scheme. Some of us don’t want our home turned into some kind of research laboratory where we are forced to live like lab rats for the next 90-years. We don’t care to live in a community where a state agency becomes the exclusive lawmaker and treats local citizens as trespassers. We enjoy living in our environment not worshiping it. We think it is ridiculous to pretend humans are not part of our surrounding ecosystems. And we have no intention of giving up our local control without a fight.

We face a choice. We can stay silent and let the "greener than thou" people who claim ownership of "best available science" sit in the lab at taxpayer expense and experiment for the next 90-years while our freedom disappears, OR we can do something to stop this nonsense. I am not the silent type. I want to live here too!

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Monday, April 7th

Jelly Jar


When people tell me they want to preserve something I get a mental image of being stuck inside a jelly jar like some freaky thing on the shelf in a curiosity shop. So when I heard about a proposal to turn the San Juan’s into an “aquatic preserve” I had to investigate. I studied the 84-page proposal and went to the open house meeting at the Grange Hall. It got ugly quick!

The “Open House” that the Marine Resources Council (MRC) hosted in Friday Harbor almost immediately broke out into a hockey game. The quarrelling got so heated that the moderator actually asked one audience member to “step outside”. Just asking a simple question drew the ire of MRC members as they shouted back angrily in defense of their proposal. The surprising emotional response of self-righteous anger that some committee members showed towards the public certainly did not dignify the affair. So what was all the fuss about?

Acting outside of any constraints a group of appointed MRC committee members has made it their goal to give control of the permit process for the marine areas around San Juan County to bureaucrats from the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). Never mind the fact that they have no legal authority to act on behalf of the people nor any mandate from elected officials to negotiate the sellout of our local control to a State Agency. They are determined to do it anyway. Who is going to stop them?

They thought they could get away with it. No one from the public comes to their meetings so they haven’t had much feedback except of course from all the enviro-fundamentalist groups. They ran their ideas by the Nature Conservancy, SeaDoc Society, Friends, and others, but that is like Michael Jackson inviting a cadre of pedophile priests to a slumber party at the Neverland Ranch. They’re all twisted up in the same way. It certainly was not what any fair-minded person would consider impartial public outreach.

As an attendee I was shocked to find out that an appointed advisory group to the County Council actually believe that they can dispense with public hearings and go around elected officials in an attempt to get a State agency to lock the islands into a 90-year management contract. When asked about this their reply was, “MRC is the lead agency on this.” But how can an unelected group of volunteers be agents for us? Something is way out of whack here.

The DNR Aquatic Reserve is for those people that just can’t get enough regulation. The reserve is advertised as a “regulatory tool” that will add another layer of intense scrutiny to the already onerous permit process. Proponents argue stubbornly that a takeover of the permit process by DNR will give us islanders more of a voice in decisions that impact our marine environment. How naive is that? Since when has a bureaucracy really had our best interests at heart? Can anyone name one that is effective or efficient at anything?

I suspect that this bureau will be inclined to deny almost all permission to use our shores for commercial or recreational activity. Instead the DNR will give us more reasons why humans do not really figure into the “natural marine ecosystems” that they will manage for us in the next 90-years. Their new focus will be putting an airtight lid on the big jar.

There are many new laws that will come into play if we somehow end up in the jelly jar of aquatic preserves. Here is a doozy: WAC332-30-151 (2) “ Leases for activities in conflict with reserve status shall not be issued.” Who will decide what activities are in conflict with what? I guarantee you that the decision will not be made locally.

So for anyone concerned about strict enforcement upon new or existing marine activities you should know there may be a new Sheriff in town. If you enjoy the use of boat launching ramps, docks, or marine repair facilities; if you benefit from underwater marine utilities or desalinization intakes and outfalls; if you live-aboard a boat, or you are a clam digger, YOU should get involved.

Send an email to the County Council, and the DNR and tell them what they can do with their aquatic reserve. Contact the DNR in the person of Doug Sutherland ( cpl@dnr.wa.gov ASAP! cpl@dnr.wa.gov The County Council may be reached at council@co.san-juan.wa.us

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