Hero Bios

2017 Environmental Heroes

Bob Aegerter
Political and environmental activist

Bob Aegerter is a retired architect and has served with the Mount Baker Group, Legislative Committee, and National Forest Committee of the WA State Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Whatcom Chapter of Washington Conservation Voters, participated in the Whatcom Wins campaign and has been an active community member on important environmental issues facing Whatcom County for years. Bob recently served a term on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission director’s Wolf Advisory Group. Through these various avenues, many gains have been made toward a more sustainable and equitable community.

Bob has helped get progressive leaders elected to office, engaged voters and citizens in the public process, and lobbied for environmental protections in Olympia. He is a great team-player and is willing to step up to tasks large and small to help move us toward a brighter future. Bob does not require recognition or to be the “leader” in the spotlight, but tenaciously tackles critical environmental issues facing Whatcom County...continuing to make a difference. To do this year after year is an outstanding achievement.

Ellie Kinley
Advocate for treaty rights and the Salish Sea

Lummi tribal member Ellie Kinley comes from a long line of fishers and tribal leaders. Her experience as a fisherwoman, and her deep and abiding respect for the natural and cultural resources of the Salish Sea, is reflected in her work both on and off the water. As a Lummi tribal fisherwoman, she is dedicated to the wise and sustainable management of our natural resources for present and future generations. When she is off the water, she has demonstrated time and time again her fearless commitment to the environment by bringing to the attention of governmental officials as well as leaders of industry current threats to the Salish Sea.

She is a tireless warrior for the environment, working across cultures daily. She serves on the Lummi Nation’s Fish Commission which provides advice and guidance to the tribe’s Natural Resource Department. Ellie is also a member of the Lummi Cultural Commission that works to protect and pass on the traditional knowledge and teachings of the Lummi Nation. In addition, she serves as the At-Large Member of the Working Waterfront Coalition that promotes the vitality and economic benefits of the working waterfronts for the people of Whatcom County. She is also a member of the Whatcom County Fisherman’s Association, working to promote relations between tribal and non-tribal fishers, and is on the Board of the Bellingham SeaFeast that is dedicated to preserving and promoting the maritime heritage of Whatcom County.

Ellie and her husband, Larry Kinley, have been instrumental in bringing back the ancestral Lummi reef-net fishery. The historical reef-net location at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) was an anchor in the successful campaign to defeat the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. Ellie was an inspired and inspirational presence throughout that campaign and continues to work to protect and preserve Xwe’chi’eXen.

Ellie’s remarkable impact on the community and the environment goes beyond individual achievements or activities. Ellie has the character of a true heroine, and is a charismatic leader. Those who know and work with her understand without any doubt her passion for her family, culture and her people, but also for the ensuring a sustainable lifeway for all the people of the Salish Sea. She is a role model as a wife and mother, and for women and men who seek to dedicate themselves in spirit, words, and deeds to honoring and protecting our collective natural and cultural resources.

Jeremy Freimund, In Memoriam
Water quality scientist and advocate

Jeremy worked for the Lummi Nation from 1996-2017 and was the Water Resources Manager since 1997. Prior to working for the Lummi Nation he was a Watershed Scientist and a Hydrologist for an environmental consulting firm based in Seattle; a Research Technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Tucson, Arizona; a Project Assistant for Catholic Relief Services, and a Rural Community Development Agent for the Peace Corps. His Peace Corps and Catholic Relief Services work was performed in Senegal (West Africa) where he worked for five years.

Jeremy is being honored in memoriam for his decades-long work with the Lummi Nation as their Water Resources Manager. His career was marked by key achievements including development of an oil spill response plan, overseeing the Lummi Nation Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan, and established the Lummi Nation Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank, the first tribal commercial mitigation bank in the United States. He was the consummate professional and brought a resounding level of scientific expertise and institutional knowledge to all he did at the Lummi Natural Resources Department. He was a great leader, team member, and friend, and approached work and life with integrity, loyalty, and kindness. He was an inspiration and is dearly missed.

Sandy Robson & Dena Jensen
Citizen investigative journalists

Sandy Robson and Dena Jensen are the dynamic duo, the creators of the coalstop.com and Noisy Waters Northwest blogs, investigative writers, meticulous followers of County public processes and often the first to intervene. They both originally became active through the informal group, Save Birch Bay, that played a key role in fighting the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point and havesince become tireless advocates for ecological protection, justice and indigenous rights. Sandy and Dena hold our local government accountable and are respected and feared by County staff and electeds. Their detailed blog posts are usually the best explanations of local issues.

For example, in 2015, they filed a public records request for emails among the Charter Review Commissioners that exposed explicit motives by Commissioners to secure a pro-GPT majority on the County Council by enacting 3-District-Only Voting in Whatcom.

Sandy and Dena’s research has shed light on important policies, relationships, and communications related to environmental issues in Whatcom County. They have shared incredibly pertinent information with community members, including environmental activists and policy-makers, that has led to more open dialogue and much needed scrutiny of projects such as the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. Their scrutiny most certainly has helped protect our community and environment from the largest coal port in North America.

Their constant correspondence and attention to detail in the minutiae of the issues make them often the first to know about, for instance, the withdrawal of GPT's county permits in February, and the first to respond to, for instance, the County's extension of the GPT EIS contract with CH2MHill. It is fair to say that they helped stop the coal terminal project in it’s tracks. Our community is a lot healthier than it would be if the terminal had been built, and a lot more engaged and aware about this and other issues.