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Clean Water Blog

The Clean Water program is responsible for monitoring and protecting our precious water resources. We use science, policy and education to reduce pollution and toxics in the Salish Sea and its uplands and address water quality and quantity issues in rural Whatcom communities. Read more.

  • Working Towards Sustainable, Local Food Production  by Ander Russell, Clean Water Program ManagerWhat are the key building blocks for sustainable agriculture in our region? This is a critical question our Clean Water team at RE ...
    Posted by Simon Bakke
  • What we heard from over 650 Whatcom residents about our water supply By Krista Rome, Clean Water Organizer From endangered orcas, to healthy salmon populations that feed them, to the food on our tables, we all depend on having a reliable supply ...
    Posted by Simon Bakke
  • Announcing RE Sources' new Executive Director! From RE Sources Board president, Charlie Maliszewski Great news! The board of directors has hired an Executive Director who will lead the organization into what promises to be an exciting ...
    Posted Nov 16, 2018, 2:04 PM by Simon Bakke
  • Cleaning up Boulevard Park's industrial past By Kirsten McDade, Pollution Prevention Specialist If you are anything like me, Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront is always on my list when I’m entertaining out of town ...
    Posted Nov 15, 2018, 10:58 AM by Simon Bakke
  • Sorting It Out: How we're learning about trash to combat pollution By Beau Seydel, Clean Water Program internAmong the beautiful bays and public parks of Whatcom County and beyond, I find something hidden (sometimes not so hidden) that seems to ...
    Posted Oct 12, 2018, 9:21 AM by Simon Bakke
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 54. View more »

Working Towards Sustainable, Local Food Production

posted by Hannah Coughlin   [ updated by Simon Bakke ]

 by Ander Russell, Clean Water Program Manager

What are the key building blocks for sustainable agriculture in our region? This is a critical question our Clean Water team at RE Sources is answering as we move toward ramping up our advocacy, policy, monitoring, and educational work in the coming year. We believe advancing local, sustainable agriculture requires action on several fronts:

Supporting a production-health-ecosystem balance

For us, sustainable agriculture means that food production, human health, and ecosystem health are all in balance. We serve on the Whatcom Food Network Steering Committee to ensure protection of water and land for farming is part of a county-wide food system plan. We worked alongside the WFN to get policies in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan to create a food system plan for Whatcom County. Now the county is following through on those policies and setting up a Food System Advisory Committee, the purpose of which is, “to draft, implement, provide oversight for, and regularly update a county-wide food system plan to strengthen our local and regional food system.”

Protecting farmland

Creating and protecting sustainable food production means making sure there is land available for farming well into the future. Along with advocating for policies that protect water, we work at the state and local level to prioritize land use decisions that preserve land for ag. RE Sources has long been a champion of local agriculture and family farms, advocating for stronger agricultural lands protection in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. We push for preventing urban sprawl into ag zones and for locating rural development in ways that protect and enhance the amount of land available for farming.

Supporting farmworker wellbeing

We believe that how we treat farmworkers in the food system has a direct connection with how we treat the land and water. We stand in solidarity with organizations like Community to Community and Familias Unidas in working towards a just and equitable food system. We will work in the coming year to build a strong intersectional approach to our clean water work that addresses poor working conditions for farmworkers, exacerbated by drought and pesticide exposure. The health of people most impacted by pollution and the health of our ecosystems cannot be separated.

Ensuring adequate water supply

Sustainable food production also means making sure there is a long-term supply of water for farms — balanced with enough water for people, for salmon, and other fish and wildlife. At the WRIA 1 Planning Unit we are working along side of the ag community to address our county’s most pressing water supply challenges. A sustainable food system relies upon long-term certainty of access to water, so it is imperative that we ensure we are advocating for science-based solutions to our water supply challenges that take climate change impacts into account.

This year we had over 650 conversations about water supply with folks around the county. One of the outcomes of that work was a better understanding of the challenges with water and land access faced by smaller local farmers. These are the farms that produce our Community Supported Agriculture boxes, and that sell at local farmers markets and grocery stores, like the Bellingham Food Co-op. We are committed to listening more to these farmers as we move forward in advocating for solutions to water supply issues.

Ensuring good water quality

Over a decade ago, we helped the launch the Tenmile Clean Water Project, a citizen group who adopted their watershed to improve water quality in rural Whatcom County. We continue to be a member of this citizen-led effort to involve rural property owners in taking action to protect and improve their watershed. One key member of the Tenmile Clean Water Project is the Whatcom Conservation District. We support their work to address water quality impacts by farms of all sizes, including smaller hobby livestock farms. Monitoring water quality using sound, science-based methods is the best way to track the success of regulatory and voluntary efforts.

Balancing agriculture with the needs of marine food systems

Our work on a sustainable food system is also focused on ensuring thriving recreational, commercial and ceremonial shellfish harvesting. As a member of the Portage Bay Shellfish District Advisory Committee, we work alongside farmers, tribes and concerned citizens to advise the County Council on actions and operations relating to the restoration of water quality in the Portage Bay watershed.

We can have clean and plentiful water, a strong local food system, a vibrant local economy, and preserve farmland. But it takes work to keep it that way. RE Sources is committed to holding respectful conversation, seeking collaborative solutions, and partnering with all stakeholders to find a common solution.

Read about RE Sources' work to move development away from farmland and into cities, ensure enough water is available for people, farms, and fish, and protect Whatcom farmlands from urban sprawl.

Read more about RE Sources' Clean Water program.

What we heard from over 650 Whatcom residents about our water supply

posted Dec 11, 2018, 2:19 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

By Krista Rome, Clean Water Organizer 

From endangered orcas, to healthy salmon populations that feed them, to the food on our tables, we all depend on having a reliable supply of water in streams, aquifers, and flowing from our taps. The pressures on our local water supply are numerous. Climate change is reducing the snowpack that feeds rivers in the summer, while simultaneously increasing demand for agricultural irrigation as summers get hotter and drier. Our region’s growing population adds the need for more residential water.

To learn more about what our community thinks about local water supply issues, impacts, and potential solutions, the Clean Water Team at RE Sources conducted a community questionnaire, “Better Understanding Whatcom Water Use”, during spring and summer 2018. 

We’ve been busy diving into the results, reading through the thoughtful comments, and having follow-up conversations to learn more about the wide range of perspectives and experiences people shared. We’ve also had some one-on-one conversations with local farmers and gardeners, adding valuable insight to our water challenges and helping expand the list of potential solutions.

We wanted to share a few of the main takeaways we gleaned from 653 community members:
  • Many people in rural Whatcom County are already experiencing water shortages, with wells running dry in the late summer. These are our friends and neighbors, and for them (as well as the salmon and the cultures that depend on them), this is not a problem of the future — it is the current reality.
  • 86% of respondents said they believe water conservation is an important issue and support the implementation of water conservation measures on a community level.  
  • 87% have tried reducing their personal water use at some point. Two-thirds of those reported doing so because they were concerned about our future water supply.
  • Respondents offered numerous creative, thoughtful ideas and strategies that can help us improve the health of our streams and safeguard an equitable water supply for all. 
Here is the full reportincluding raw data and other key findings.

In alignment with the expressed community interest in water conservation as an approach, we recently worked with the Environmental Caucus (which represents environmental interests on the committee tasked with restoring streamflows to the Nooksack watershed) and rural residents to ask the Whatcom County Council to set aside funds to start a County-wide Water Conservation Program for residential water users. The council agreed in early December, and we look forward to working with staff in 2019 to make this program successful. 

We’re excited to continue our work with the community on water supply. Here is the full report from our Community Water Supply Questionnaire.

(photo: Canyon Creek during low flow season, September 2018, by Krista Rome.)

Announcing RE Sources' new Executive Director!

posted Nov 16, 2018, 2:04 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Nov 16, 2018, 2:04 PM ]

From RE Sources Board president, Charlie Maliszewski 

Great news! The board of directors has hired an Executive Director who will lead the organization into what promises to be an exciting new chapter. With great pleasure, we would like to introduce you to Shannon Wright, strategic leader and time-tested activist, who has led successful, high-impact initiatives to protect the environment and support frontline communities. 

Shannon has been a leader in the environmental movement for more than twenty years.
 Some may know her as former ED of Communitywise Bellingham, one of the key orgs that  raised awareness to defeat the GPT coal terminal. She has also helped develop a dynamic strategy to bolster the BALLE movement for localized economies; forged alliances with diverse stakeholders to advance clean energy solutions with Greenpeace; addressed deforestation and supported indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest; and advocated for women’s rights in Andean farming communities with CARE International.

Shannon brings a collaborative approach to building coalitions and teams, with a strong track record in advocacy strategy, communications, fundraising, planning, organizational development, direct action, international coalition building, and team leadership. 

We are excited to see what happens with Shannon’s strategic guidance, visionary leadership, and advocacy chops, combined with the opportunities we now have with a pro-environment majority in the state legislature. 2019 will be the year for Washington State to become an example to our nation with a new generation of women in power who have the courage and foresight to tackle important issues like climate change.

We are grateful we can count on you, our supporters, to stand with us to protect the home we love and the values we share. 

Cleaning up Boulevard Park's industrial past

posted Nov 13, 2018, 4:49 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Nov 15, 2018, 10:58 AM ]

By Kirsten McDade, Pollution Prevention Specialist 

If you are anything like me, Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront is always on my list when I’m entertaining out of town guests, or exploring the beaches with my family, to walk the boardwalk on a blustery day with a hot beverage in hand, or to picnic on the grassy fields as the sun sets. Boulevard park is one of the most popular parks in Bellingham, attracting more than 1 million visitors each year. Despite the crowds, I am continually drawn to the beauty of the park and the myriad of activities it has to offer.

It’s also a place that showcases how Bellingham’s industrial past left a legacy of pollution hidden in plain sight, just meters away from the fields and hangout spots. That’s why RE Sources, along with agencies working to clean up the waterfront, took a group of community members on a tour near the park to learn about its past and shape its future, as they had an opportunity to give a public comment to the Department of Ecology on their cleanup strategy.

As the new Pollution Prevention Specialist with RE Sources, I now look at Boulevard Park through a different lens. Did you know the majority of the park used to be a lumber mill? It burned down in 1925, but left behind tar-coated pilings and layers of wood-derived fill. (Below: North Boulevard Park in 1955).

Perhaps even lesser known is that a manufactured gas plant use to operate on the northern part of the park. The current park shelter, restrooms, and pocket beach all lie in the former footprint of this facility. During the late 1800s and early 1900s coal was brought to the gas plant and was heated up in containers called retorts. In the absence of air, the coal was broken down releasing gas that was captured, piped to holding tanks, and then delivered to customers to heat and light their homes. Burning coal to produce gas for homes and businesses left behind a variety of contaminants that remain in the soils and sediment, which are now a source of concern. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and copper have been found, along with cyanide and toxic fossil fuel byproducts. All of these contaminants pose a significant health hazard if they come in direct contact with living organisms.

So last month, we brought together concerned community members and representatives from Ecology, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, the Port of Bellingham, and the City of Bellingham to explore the site’s history and the proposals to clean it up. While the exact cleanup methods aren’t set in stone, all of the proposals will dramatically improve the current conditions of the park for human and environmental health.

While Boulevard park has an interesting history, it is only one of 12 toxic cleanup sites that have been identified along Bellingham Bay’s waterfront, all containing toxic contaminants left over from Bellingham’s industrial past. They are all in different stages of the cleanup process, but when completed, the whole community will have reshaped the waterfront into a more livable and safe environment for humans while restoring critical habitat for our native organisms. If you are interested in learning more about the cleanup efforts occurring on the waterfront, keep a lookout for more tours offered by RE Sources. It’ll give you a lot to ponder the next time you’re watching the sunset anywhere along Bellingham Bay.

For more on our waterfront tours or how to get involved, email Eleanor at eleanorh@re-sources.org

Sorting It Out: How we're learning about trash to combat pollution

posted Oct 12, 2018, 9:21 AM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Oct 12, 2018, 9:21 AM ]

By Beau Seydel, Clean Water Program intern

Among the beautiful bays and public parks of Whatcom County and beyond, I find something hidden (sometimes not so hidden) that seems to reemerge every time I look.

Unfortunately, that hidden something is... garbage.

During my ventures collecting and sorting trash, I’ve found there’s an astonishing amount of garbage that’s invisible if you’re not paying attention. It’s only when you’re actively searching for trash do you find the cigarette butt wedged in the parking block, the bottle under some driftwood, or bag precariously hanging from the limb of a bush. 

Each year, over 14 million tons of plastic makes its way into our oceans, costing the world economy an estimated $13 billion. How can we even begin to give communities tools to tackle such a global problem?

That’s why people around the world are taking it upon themselves to find, clean up, and identify what exactly is being littered and where. RE Sources and partners, along with some intrepid volunteers, are at the forefront of testing out effective, easy-to-use methods of better understanding what types of trash are polluting which oceans and beaches, to better inform our local efforts to curb plastic pollution.

We’re finally starting to develop systems that allow us to scientifically categorize trash in different types of landscapes. And it’s not well-funded companies or research groups doing the heavy lifting, either; people in local communities are stepping up to test and improve these new systems to understand plastic, metal, and glass pollutants and how we can reduce their impact.

That’s what makes this so exciting and is why I got involved. Anyone can step in and make a difference in this field, whether they’re collecting data from a clean-up or simply helping to reduce litter on a beach.

In our community, I’ve worked primarily with RE Sources, helping the Environmental Protection Agency do trial runs on their own trash data collection system, the Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol (ETAP), with the goal of helping them refine it. We’ve been going through the tedious efforts of gathering trash in a specific plot of ground, sorting all the trash into 45 specific categories, then weighing, counting, and taking pictures. The process is time-consuming, but it does yield important data; data that can, for instance, make strides in providing more trash receptacles and informational signage relevant to the most abundant litter. The most interesting part of this work has been seeing what types and quantity of litter we find in areas across Whatcom County.

People are coming together worldwide to combat coastal pollution everywhere. The annual International Coastal Cleanup is a great example of how widespread this work is. Ocean Conservancy hosts this event as a whole, but it’s up to individual community groups and organizations, like RE Sources and the Northwest Straits Surfrider chapter, to gather people together and clean thousands of pounds of trash from our beaches. Programs like ETAP can improve the efficacy of these cleanups and help us get more out of them.

I must say, I’m impressed by the amount of people willing to spend their weekend afternoons collecting trash on the shore. The stewardship community members exhibit at these events fills me with hope for our ability to make a change. People are willing to bring supplies and properly dispose of trash and recyclables gathered. It’s not always easy putting a wet bag of trash in your car!

If you want to be part of the solution, meet other awesome folks in the community making change, and be on the cutting edge of citizen science, contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org, or apply to be a North Sound Steward today.

Bellingham’s waterfront: New public spaces, new hope for orcas

posted Aug 10, 2018, 10:39 AM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Aug 10, 2018, 10:39 AM ]

By Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist

A few weeks into Orca Month (also known as “June” to many of you), we got some sad news – we lost one of our iconic Southern Resident Orcas, bringing their population down to just 75 – the fewest orcas alive in the Salish Sea since the early 1980s. And then we saw the haunting display of love and loss when a mother orca carried her dead newborn calf on a “tour of grief” that lasted more than two weeks.

It all seems disheartening. But there are many ways our little length of shoreline in Bellingham Bay can play a key role in restoring our orca population, even though orcas are rarely seen here. To start a conversation about it, Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures and RE Sources took eight interested paddlers out on a kayak tour of Bellingham’s waterfront to celebrate Orca Month. We launched our tandem kayaks from Zuanich Park into the choppy water for a close-up look at seven spots along the waterfront — including some sites the public hasn’t had access to for decades.

Industrial activities in the 1900s followed by a legacy of pollutants left in the ground — like mercury, nickel, petroleum byproducts, and more — made most of the waterfront area off-limits to the public for about 100 years. The shoreline has also been physically altered by armoring, dredging up sediment, and filling in parts of the natural shoreline to build on. These changes make the waterfront hazardous to young Chinook salmon, which need clean, protected nearshore habitat to grow and make it to the open ocean. And Chinook salmon make up 80% of our resident orcas’ food source.

The decline of these salmon is a huge reason orca numbers have dropped and aren’t rising; Puget Sound Chinook are hovering around 10% of their historical numbers. Combined, the resident orca pods eat roughly half a million salmon per year. To give some perspective, the entire Skagit River can feed our orcas for about one month out of the year with its current salmon runs. Juvenile Nooksack Chinook, who rely on the habitat in Bellingham Bay, also face considerably smaller numbers of salmon returning. The spring Nooksack Chinook runs are listed as “Threatened” under the US Endangered Species Act.

It’s impossible to restore healthy orca populations without talking about helping salmon, and it’s impossible to help salmon without making Bellingham Bay hospitable to their young.

From Pollution to Public Parks

We were lucky enough to be one of the first-ever groups leading a visit to sites that demonstrate a successful and collaborative cleanup effort. Waypoint Park – home of the 400,000 pound, eye-catching acid ball – is a brand-new example of what the City of Bellingham and others hope can become of some of our old industrial sites. The public can access the area for the first time since pre-industrial times, now free of legacy pollutants left behind from the pulp and tissue mill operations at Georgia Pacific West. It’s been carefully constructed with rocks and a tiny pocket beach, creating perfect habitat for young Chinook, fresh out of their riverine hatching grounds to grow accustomed to the salty sea where they’ll become adults. In fact, the city added pocket beach to the design of Waypoint Park after getting input from the public. The City, the Port, the Department of Ecology, and others are also removing shoreline armoring, to prevent good habitat from eroding away.

All these teams turning swaths of polluted sediment into parks and salmon habitat is something unique and worth appreciating. Several of those kayaking with us had recently come to Bellingham from all over the place: North Carolina, Utah, a recently graduated college student and her aunt. One person hailed from Chicago, and he noted how toxic sites around his hometown haven’t been cleaned up, let alone considered for public use. Seeing a community actively trying to clean up – and provide access to the cleaned-up spaces – felt impressive and new.

Making sure the redevelopment suits our community’s needs, as well as those of the salmon that humans and orcas rely on, is a big priority. The good news is, like with Waypoint Park, we can build a thriving waterfront with interconnected parks and business without sacrificing plentiful habitat for orcas’ most critical food source. The City and Port of Bellingham have a dream of making a trail connecting some of these sites, incorporating parks and valuable habitat, making it a draw for people from downtown to the waterfront.

As your North Sound Baykeeper, it feels good to be on the forefront of reconnecting people with natural spaces around their home. We aim to have even more people come paddle on the water with us in the future. This is YOUR waterfront, and I hope you’ll join me to make it healthier for all.

What can YOU do?

Ecology will be releasing several public comment periods this fall on other cleanup sites, such as South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant at Boulevard Park and the I&J Waterway this September, so stay tuned for more tours and ways to participate in the public process of cleaning up and redeveloping our waterfront. Sign up for our e-news to get updates or check our permits website for updates on public comment periods.

If you want to attend a public meeting of Gov. Inslee’s Orca Task Force, check out schedules and agendas here. This is a unique opportunity to press the Task Force to take bold action to protect our orcas. The time for business-as-usual is over; the orcas, salmon, and people who rely on them deserve better.

June is Orca Month: A time to reflect on the Salish Sea and its threatened whales

posted Jun 15, 2018, 1:29 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Jun 15, 2018, 1:45 PM ]

(Content for this blog is courtesy of the Orca Month website. Visit their page for more!)

Working together from all corners of the Salish Sea, we can restore the habitat orcas – and humans – call home. Join us for a month of educational and celebratory events to raise awareness of the threats facing our Southern Resident orca population and what we can do to protect them.

The survival of the remaining 76 Southern Resident killer whales and the Chinook salmon runs that they depend upon are tied directly to the health of the Salish Sea.  This should be a wake-up call to our region that our own health, economy, and culture are at risk if the Salish Sea isn’t thriving. The single greatest threat to survival of the Southern Resident orca population is depletion of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon. And persistent organic pollutants, including banned toxics like DDT and PCBs, are present in alarmingly high concentration in Southern Resident orcas, making them one of the most contaminated marine mammals in the world. Additionally, vessel traffic increases underwater ambient noise, which may impact orcas' hunting, navigation, and communication efforts.

Orca Awareness Month, started by long-time orca education and advocacy group Orca Network, was created to bring together researchers, advocates, and orca lovers everywhere to raise the awareness of the threats facing these magnificent animals and provide a community to celebrate orca of the Salish Sea. 
For 12 years, June has been proclaimed Orca Awareness Month by the Governor of Washington, and for the first time in 2016, Orca Awareness Month was being celebrated in Oregon and in British Columbia.

Bidding farewell to a brave leader

posted Jun 12, 2018, 12:30 PM by Hannah Coughlin

by Charlie Maliszewski

This week marks the end of an era in our community.: the leader of an important institution has retired from her post after a two-decade career. Crina Hoyer, former Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, has left us very big shoes to fill.

In her departing, I find myself wondering how we judge the value of an exceptional leader’s contribution to society? If we consider the scope of impact and the the ripple effect of her decisions, Crina will surely be remembered as an essential figure in preserving what we love about this region — its spectacular natural bounty, clean air and water, and cultural heritage.

During her tenure, RE Sources identified and alerted the community to the staggering threat posed by the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. If built, it would have been the nation’s largest coal export facility, certain to devastate salmon and orca populations, individual livelihoods, and the culture and traditions of indigenous Salish Sea peoples. Instead, under Crina’s leadership, RE Sources raised substantial dollars, hired new staff, partnered with key organizations across the region, cut its teeth on grassroots organizing, and helped build one of the largest environmental movements in our region’s history. It took courage to stand up to Goldman Sachs, to Peabody Coal, to Pacific International Terminals, and to the monied backers and lobbyists vested in an increasingly desperate coal industry.

But her contributions to RE Sources, our community, and the environment are not limited to one Goliath undertaking. If the value of leadership is to be evidenced by vision, inspiration, and action, Crina’s influence cannot be overstated. From her initiation as RE Sources’ Education Manager — from which thousands of adults today received their earliest environmental lessons (frequently from a young Crina cloaked as Ricky the Recycling Raccoon) — she has naturally emerged as a leader who rallies everyone around her to strive for greatness. As Program Director, then Executive Director, Crina’s command has led the environmental community into greater influence, and greater success. She is responsible for casting the vision to widen the scope of, reconfigure, reinvent, and streamline RE Sources’ programs. More importantly, her leadership helped revive a healthy, thriving, sustainable workplace culture. Today, RE Sources is known as a place of integrity, humanity, compassion, and fun. Perhaps most importantly, she built strategic partnerships with non-traditional allies, pulling focus away from our differences and placing it on shared values and shared humanity.

If a leader’s significance to society is to be measured according to lives touched, many reading this have knowingly or unknowingly been impacted by Crina’s coaching, encouragement, and wisdom.  The seeds she planted in each individual relationship will continue to cultivate great potential, produce invaluable fruit, and reseed to new ground. The long list of leaders she helped enrich and inspire, watched blossom, then said goodbye to have embarked on careers to create a thriving, sustainable future for us all. I hear time and time again how much others have been impacted by her unique leadership qualities from those  within the organization or community leaders who’ve partnered with RE Sources. And keep your eyes peeled — you may soon see a book authored by a former RE Sources board member, inspired by Crina’s leadership.

As a RE Sources board member since 2005, it has been my honor and privilege to work closely with Crina and watch her develop into one of our community’s most respected non-profit leaders. Her style relies on a foundation of integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, passion, and the ability to connect with people, regardless of circumstances.  She balances the rigors of her professional life with a loving family (husband Barry and sons Spencer and Baxter), a posse of good friends, and a taste for adventure. I look forward to more greatness from Crina as she entertains possibilities for the next step in an already-acclaimed career.

In the wake of her departure, this community can expect RE Sources to continue delivering on its promise to protect, activate, innovate, and thrive. To that end, the board has hired Duane Jager to serve as Interim Executive Director until a permanent E.D. is on board  by the end of 2018. Duane brings more than 35 years of non-profit leadership experience, a strong connection to RE Sources’ mission, and a firm intention to maintain the tremendous momentum and fearless determination that Crina fostered. For the next several months, Duane is seeking input from stakeholders and community members on the next chapter in RE Sources’ life as a trustworthy, committed champion and protector of our air, water, and remarkable natural bounty. Please join us in this new era of visionary growth as we navigate the options of “what’s next” for RE Sources. We want to hear from you. Thank you to our community, and thank you to Crina Hoyer, an exceptional leader and local hero.

#ProtectTheInlet: Thousands marched against Kinder Morgan's oil pipeline expansion in B.C, and I joined them.

posted Apr 5, 2018, 5:20 PM by Simon Bakke

By Krista Rome, Clean Water Organizer

On March 10, under clear blue skies, my neighbor and I arrived at Lake City SkyTrain station, in Burnaby, B.C. Thousands of others bustled around us, circling up with drums, beautiful signs, and prayers for a better future. People from coast to coast were coming together to defend our land and water against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, an enormous threat to the Salish Sea, and to communities along its entire path. Looking around, I saw so many orcas and salmon swimming among us, and I knew I had made the right decision to spend my day standing with them, as a voice for the ones who cannot speak.  
Chief Reuben George of North Shore’s Tsleil-Waututh Nation addressed the crowd: “Our spiritual leaders today are going to claim back Burnaby Mountain!”. Burnaby Mountain, which is unceded Coast Salish Territory, is crossed by the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and it’s headed for a massive $7.3 billion expansion. Hearing Ruben George’s words, I felt our deep, collective purpose: to stand together in defense of everything that is sacred to us, and to fight for a just transition to a clean energy future. 
We marched together on our pilgrimage up the mountain, with indigenous leaders from across the continent showing us the way with their confident steps, regalia, drums, and clear intention. I thought about how so many of us are ready to follow when we recognize leaders like George, who are grounded in integrity and stewardship of our natural resources. From Standing Rock to Burnaby Mountain, these indigenous-led, ally-supported movements exemplify the combined power of social justice and environmental stewardship.
When we arrived, we listened to First Nations leaders from across Canada as they shared their stories. A chief from Quebec, who had travelled to Standing Rock many times, spoke about solidarity. A trio of indigenous women from Alberta told us of the devastation the tar sands operations and associated “man camps” have had on their communities and on their women. These camps of up to 1,000 transient workers (mostly men) have resulted in increases in sexual violence against indigenous women in nearby communities. One speaker said that their own land and water had already been destroyed by fossil fuel extraction and export, and that we here must fight to protect what we still have, while we still have the chance.
Through these speeches, we felt the immensity of the impact the fossil fuel industry has had on indigenous communities, far and wide. By opposing Kinder Morgan’s expansion, we stand not just with our coastal communities and the Salish Sea, but with all people, land, and water from here to the tar sands’ source in Alberta.
Last, we walked down the trail to the existing pipeline's route. There we celebrated the newly constructed traditional Coast Salish “watch house” (Kwekwecnewtxw), on the path of the proposed expansion, which will be a base for water protectors who come to stand guard. Watch houses have been built since time immemorial on Coast Salish territories to watch for enemies and warn communities of imminent danger. Kinder Morgan’s expansion is just that. And we stand ready to defend what we love.

Students take the Capitol: Environmental Lobby Day 2018

posted Mar 12, 2018, 3:27 PM by Simon Bakke

By Kaylin Gentz, Clean Water Intern.

Like many Clean Water interns before me, I had the great privilege of attending Environmental Lobby Day in Olympia last month, where college students met with senators and representatives at the capitol to lobby for change on a wide range of environmental policy issues. Seventeen students and I descended upon the Washington State Capitol full of excitement and jitters; for many of us, this was our first time talking directly with elected officials. 

Prior to the President’s Day event, we all had the opportunity to review Western’s legislative agenda and meet with group members to devise a plan of attack. Students gave personal testimonies of past experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly, in order to prepare us for the following day.  For the 2018 lobby day, we had our eyes on three key pieces of environmental legislation:
  • SB 6203, which works to reduce carbon emissions in ways that mitigate negative externalities that continue to be disproportionately placed on some socioeconomic groups, and move to a clean energy economy. Although this bill did not pass, we’ve filed a ballot initiative as part of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. Email Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager, if you’d like to learn about how you can help get bold climate action passed in 2018 despite inaction in the State Legislature.
  • Support and encourage a tax surcharge to ensure more stable and predictable funding for the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), which aids in identifying and cleaning up hazardous waste sites.  
  • HB 1171, which would conduct a study of Ultrafine Particulate matter (UMP) degrading air quality in the SeaTac community, which is disproportionately nonwhite and/or low income. (This bill died before we were able to lobby, but we still expressed support for the importance of a future bill)
Each group was split into three or four students and assigned to several representatives and senators, that may or may not support or agree with our agenda. My group in particular decided to research each of our assigned representatives in order to better understand how they have voted in the past, how each bill or action impacts their district, and their life story, in order to connect with them on a deeper, more personal level. 
Rising bright and early on February 19th, we excitedly made last-minute adjustments to our speeches and presentations. We had only 15 minutes to talk to each representative; we had to make sure everything was perfect.

With each passing meeting, we became more comfortable with our agendas and felt like professional lobbyists by the end of the day.  

I have wanted to attend this event since I decided to minor in environmental policy, but have never had the opportunity to do so until now. After experiencing this exhilarating weekend, I would give anything to go back and do it again. It was so humbling to watch both branches of the government take steps toward passing important legislation that will impact our daily lives, and I’m proud to say I was part of it.

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