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RE Sources for Sustainable Communities announces 2017 Environmental Heroes

posted Aug 14, 2017, 10:14 AM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM ]

Five individuals recognized for their efforts to protect and promote the health of our Pacific Northwest environment. 


For 14 years, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities has selected a handful of bright stars — local leaders, community visionaries, and brave-hearted citizens — to recognize and honor for their tireless work to safeguard our community and outstanding Pacific Northwest environment. 

RE Sources is pleased to announce this year’s Environmental Heroes: Bob Aegerter, Ellie Kinley, Dena Jensen, Sandy Robson, and Jeremy Freimund (in memoriam).

Heroes are nominated and selected by a panel of community members, former Heroes, RE Sources’ staff, and board members, for their extraordinary efforts to protect our natural world. RE Sources hosts Environmental Heroes to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals in Whatcom and Skagit counties whose work has had significant, lasting impact.

“Our 2017 Heroes have confronted and overcome big challenges in order to provide a safe and healthy future for people, wildlife and ecosystems alike,” said Crina Hoyer, executive director at RE Sources. “Our vision at RE Sources is to see people living satisfying lives in accord with the ecosystems we depend on, generation after generation. We are delighted to highlight the work of our Heroes in advancing this shared vision.”

About the 2017 Environmental Heroes:
  • Bob Aegerter has invested countless volunteer hours in service to the Mount Baker Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Whatcom Chapter of Washington Conservation Voters, and RE Sources. He has been an active community member on important environmental issues facing Whatcom County, and recently served a term on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Wolf Advisory Group. Through these various avenues, many gains have been made on behalf of wildlife, in the policy arena, and in protecting special places. 

  • Lummi Nation 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, cultural, and historical importance of the Salish Sea, is reflected in her work both on and off the water. As a purse seiner, Ellie is dedicated to the wise and sustainable management of natural resources for present and future generations. When off the water, she is a fearless environmental champion, highlighting threats to the Salish Sea to both government officials and industry leaders, and advocating for its protection. 

  • Sandy Robson and Dena Jensen are tireless advocates for ecological protection, justice, and indigenous rights. They are the creators of the coalstop.com and Noisy Waters Northwest blogs, investigative writers, meticulous followers of Whatcom County public processes and often the first to intervene. 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.

  • Jeremy Freimund 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 establishing the first tribally-owned and operated commercial wetland mitigation bank in the U.S. 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.

The 2017 Heroes will be honored during the Environmental Heroes Awards Banquet on Thursday, September 7th, at the Lairmont Manor in Bellingham.

Event proceeds will go to support RE Sources for Sustainable Communities programs and projects. For more information, visit re-sources.org/environmentalheroes or contact Mary Humphries at maryh@re-sources.org or (360) 733-8307 ext. 204.

As the Cornerstone Sponsor, Sanitary Service Company provides generous support for Environmental Heroes, along with additional key sponsors Puget Sound Benefit Services, Ecotech Solar, Community Food Co-op, Danne Neill Realtor, Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro, Restoration Inc., Pepper Sisters Restaurant, Nuu Muu, New Whatcom Interiors, and Village Books.

Media Contact: Mary Humphries, Development Director, maryh@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307 ext. 204

Second summer of Bellingham Poop Patrols to highlight proper dog poop pickup practices to help prevent water pollution

posted Jul 14, 2017, 3:08 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM ]


This summer, the Clean Water program at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is continuing its popular Poop Patrols, a campaign to educate community members about how they can help prevent fecal coliform pollution in local waterways by picking up and properly disposing of dog poop. Last summer, the project focused on the Squalicum Watershed, but in 2017 the project is extending its reach to even more local parks.

Fecal coliform bacteria, an indicator of mammal or bird poop in the water, are found in many creeks, lakes, and beaches in Whatcom County. It indicates the likely presence of other disease-causing organisms including roundworms, E. coli, and more. When water is polluted with fecal coliform, contact with the water or eating shellfish can sicken you, your children, and your pets.

“Poop Patrols in 2016 highlighted a staggering problem — volunteers flagged more than 700 piles of discarded dog poop at just 10 events,” said Eleanor Hines, Lead Scientist at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “Everyone can play a part in protecting our local water quality by helping your friends and family understand the importance of picking up, bagging, and throwing away dog poop in the trash — wherever you are.”

To reach out to dog owners who may not realize the harmful impact of their dog’s poop on the environment, RE Sources is hosting Poop Patrols in parks in Bellingham and Whatcom County. During Poop Patrols, volunteers flag left behind dog poop piles to illustrate the widespread problem of poor poop pickup practices, and talk to parkgoers about the right way to dispose of dog poop and the problem of fecal coliform pollution. The flags and dog poop are always picked up at a later date.

All events are from 4:30-6 p.m., and interested participants can RSVP through Facebook.
  • Tuesday, July 18: Little Squalicum Park, 640 Marine Dr, Bellingham 
  • Thursday, August 3: Lake Padden Park, 4882 S Samish Way, Bellingham
  • Tuesday, August 15: Fairhaven Dog Park, 1717 4th St, Bellingham
  • Monday, September 4: Larrabee State Park, 245 Chuckanut Dr, Bellingham

In addition, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is participating at two summer events to educate even more dog owners about proper dog poop pickup practices.
  • Paws & Claws Expo: Sunday, July 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Bloedel Donovan Park, 2214 Electric Avenue, Bellingham
  • Dog Days of Summer: Sunday, August 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Lake Padden Park, 4882 S Samish Way, Bellingham
At both the Poop Patrol events and the community events, participants can sign the Poop Pledge to always pick up their dog poop, and be entered into a drawing to win one of several pooper scoopers and poop pails to help support their good poop pickup practices.

Volunteers are still being recruited to help with Poop Patrols. Email sydneyh@re-sources.org or call (360) 733-8307 to sign up.

Media Contact: Virginia Cleaveland, Communications Manager, virginiac@re-sources.org (360) 733-8307 ext. 217

Statement: Final environmental review of Tesoro xylene project doesn’t address concerns over worker safety, tanker spills, threats to Southern Resident orcas

posted Jul 11, 2017, 10:57 AM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM by Virginia Cleaveland ]

On July 10, 2017, Skagit County Planning and Development Services issued the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Tesoro Anacortes refinery expansion project, which would add capacity and allow the refinery to begin producing and exporting xylene — a toxic, flammable petrochemical used to make plastic and synthetics. 

Read more about the Tesoro xylene project: re-sources.org/tesoroxylene



The project would produce 15,000 barrels (630,000 gallons) of xylene per day for export to Asia. It would also increase Salish Sea tanker traffic by an additional five tankers per month, creating the risk of a toxic spill that would threaten fragile marine habitat and the endangered Southern Resident orcas.

More than 7,500 people submitted comments on the project’s draft EIS. The majority asked Skagit County to use the final EIS to address concerns over worker safety standards, petrochemical spills in the Salish Sea, risks to endangered orcas, increasing crude oil train traffic, and use of the new facility for crude oil export. Commenters also asked the county to separately review the xylene export and clean products upgrade components of the project, while properly accounting for greenhouse gas pollution.

The final EIS, issued just two months after the public comment period on the draft EIS, does not adequately address the concerns in many of these areas, despite an overwhelming majority of commenters stating that the project should not be permitted as proposed.

In response, environmental organizations Stand, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and Friends of the San Juans issued the following statements:

“Scientists, concerned citizens, and many others have spoken out in an overwhelming majority against the Tesoro Anacortes refinery expansion project. Although the final environmental review failed to take into account many citizens’ concerns, we know this project and the increased tanker traffic from the export of xylene will impact our climate, the health of our communities, and the sensitive marine habitat of the Salish Sea,” said Janet Marino, Program Director at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

“Xylene is toxic and highly flammable. This project would substantially increase risks to workers and communities surrounding the Anacortes refinery. Following the deadly 2010 refinery explosion, an investigation from the Chemical Safety Board found that Tesoro had ‘normalized hazardous working conditions.’ Despite thousands of people advocating for increased worker safety protections in the final EIS, Skagit County has required no additional safety measures and is relying on Tesoro’s claims of voluntary changes in their safety culture,” said Alex Ramel, Field Director at Stand.earth.

“The increased threat of a toxic spill from this project remain a significant risk to the endangered Southern Resident orcas and the health of our region. The final environmental review fails to consider cumulative impacts from the massive increase in vessel traffic through the Salish Sea — not just the Tesoro refinery project, but the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline proposal in British Columbia. Washington state already has inadequate oil spill prevention and response procedures, and the increase in tanker traffic from these projects only puts our sensitive marine environment and economy even more at risk,” said Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juans.

Media Contact: Alex Ramel, Stand, alex@stand.earth, 360-305-5079

What’s the Point event includes low-tide walk, beach exploration at Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve

posted Jun 21, 2017, 2:25 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM ]

Annual family-friendly event takes place June 24th at Point Whitehorn Marine Park. 

The community is invited to the annual What’s the Point beach exploration event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, at Point Whitehorn Marine Park, 6899 Koehn Rd, Blaine (map). The mid-day low tide is -3.1 feet at 12:05 p.m. RSVP on Facebook.

During the event, naturalists familiar with intertidal creatures and seaweeds, birds, native plants, forest ecology, and local geology will answer questions and lead informal tours along Point Whitehorn Beach, an extraordinary stretch of natural shoreline teeming with wildlife. Children can play a game of naturalist bingo as they hunt for various plants and animals, and explore tidepools with expert storytellers. Naturalists include:
  • Casey Cook of the Marine Life Center, Holly Roger of Wild Whatcom, and Doug Stark of the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee, who will lead kid-friendly tidepool explorations and tell astounding stories about how tidepool creatures live.
  • Marine specialists Bob Lemon, Lynne Givler, Marie Hitchman, and marine biologist Michael Kyte, who will teach people about the plants and animals in the intertidal zone.
  • Geologist Dave Tucker, who will lead field trips to investigate beach and bluff geology. Field trip times will be announced the day of the event.
  • Lyle Anderson of the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, who will be on the forest trail to the beach teaching people about native plants.
  • Nick Skye with Whatcom Land Trust, who will lead walks to and from the beach explaining the forest ecosystem and how it relates to the beach.
  • The Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which will have a booth with touchable pelts of marine animals.

The trail at Point Whitehorn Marine Park meanders through a forested wetland and is wheelchair accessible for ¾ mile, including viewpoints at the top of the bluff overlooking the beach and the Strait of Georgia. Porta potties are available in the parking lot.

Participants should bring picnic lunches and drinking water, outdoor clothing and sturdy shoes, waterproof sunscreen and bags to pack trash out. Please leave furry friends at home — dogs are not allowed in this county park.

The event is sponsored by Whatcom Land Trust and the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, in partnership with the Marine Life Center, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Whatcom County Parks & Recreation, and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

Directions: Take I-5 Exit 266 and drive west on Grandview Road for 8.5 miles. Follow the road as it curves left and becomes Koehn Road. Continue 1/2 mile to the parking lot on the left.

About Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve and Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve

The 54-acre Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve adjoins the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve and provides habitat for juvenile salmon, Dungeness crab, great blue heron, bald eagles, migrating seabirds and more. Whatcom Land Trust acquired Point Whitehorn in 2007, then transferred the land to Whatcom County Parks & Recreation. Whatcom Land Trust holds a conservation easement over the property, ensuring its protection forever. For more information, visit whatcomlandtrust.org.

The 227-acre Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is one of several aquatic reserves established by Washington State Department of Natural Resources in an effort to protect state-owned aquatic lands of significant natural value. The Reserve extends from Birch Bay State Park south to the Lummi Nation border, and from the beach into the Strait of Georgia about one half mile. The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee works to assist DNR in its implementation of the Aquatic Reserve's Management Plan. For more information, visit aquaticreserves.org.

Media contact:
Kim Clarkin, Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, kimlu55@gmail.com, (360) 393-3238

Orca Month event at Boulevard Park highlights need to protect Southern Resident orca whales from threats of increased oil transport in the Salish Sea

posted Jun 15, 2017, 10:22 AM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM ]


On Sunday, June 25, community members and environmental activists will gather at Boulevard Park in Bellingham for the free community event “Two if by land, one if by sea: Oil transport threatens the Salish Sea” to celebrate the endangered Southern Resident orca whale population and fight for their protection. 

The Orca Month event is hosted by local organizations RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Friends of the San Juans, and Washington Environmental Council. The event will begin with groups walking, biking and paddling to the park to represent the crude oil pipelines, trains, and tankers that threaten our fragile orca populations and the Salish Sea, both by land and by sea.

A community picnic, family-friendly activities, educational booths, and live music are scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., with a short program of speakers starting at 1 p.m.
  • What: Orca Month event “Two If by Land, One if by Sea: Oil Transport Threatens the Salish Sea”
  • Who: Speakers include Rick Wood, a documentary filmmaker working to tell the story of the resident orca whales, Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz, a musical duo with an activist message, and Qweshimut, a Lummi tribal member who will speak about the cultural importance of the orca and salmon to the Lummi people, accompanied with songs by his family group, Ngen’tse Ste’ky’e (Pack of Wolves).
  • When: June 25th, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. (paddlers, bikers and walkers will meet at 11 a.m. at designated locations and will parade to the park)
  • Where: Boulevard Park, 470 Bayview Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225
This event is part of the 11th annual Orca Awareness Month, started by long-time orca education and advocacy group Orca Network. Members of the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) are hosting events throughout the month to educate the public about the Southern Resident orca population and the challenges they face.

Increased oil transport in the Salish Sea poses an unacceptable threat to local waterways, communities, and the endangered Southern Resident orcas. The proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in B.C. would drastically increase shipping of crude oil through Haro Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Salish Sea — and risk the safety of our drinking water and fisheries.

Puget Sound is already one of the leading petroleum refining centers in the country, putting us at risk for a catastrophic oil spill that would devastate the marine environment and most likely push the already struggling Southern Resident orcas over the brink. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska had a devastating impact on the orca population in Prince William Sound, and only a handful of non-breeding aged individual orcas remain today.

More information on walking, biking, or paddling to the event:

Paddlers: Congregate at three locations at 11 a.m. on the day of the event.
  • Fairhaven boat launch, 400 block of Harris Avenue, Bellingham. This is an official boat launch with restrooms nearby.
  • Cornwall Beach, at the terminus of Cornwall Avenue, 401 Cornwall Ave. This is an unimproved launch, great for canoes and kayaks. Free parking along Cornwall Avenue.
  • North end of Boulevard Park, 470 Bayview Drive. This is the location of the event. Parking is tight, but there's a sandy beach at the north end of the park.
Walkers: Meet at 11 a.m. at the Fairhaven Village Green, 1207 10th St, Bellingham. The group will be departing by 11:30 a.m. (see map for route)

Bikers: Meet at Cornwall Beach at the terminus of Cornwall Ave, 401 Cornwall Ave, at the same place as the paddlers. The group will be departing by 11 a.m. (see map for route)

June 6, 2017: Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy forum to highlight need for equitable climate policy in Washington state

posted Jun 6, 2017, 10:47 AM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Jun 9, 2017, 9:10 AM ]

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Blue Green Alliance, Community to Community Development, Washington Environmental Council co-hosting forum June 20 in Bellingham. 

Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy supporter organizations RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Washington BlueGreen Alliance, Community to Community Development, and Washington Environmental Council are co-hosting a forum “Fund the solutions, price the pollution: The future of climate policy in Washington state” from 6:30 - 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St, Bellingham (map).

The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is a statewide coalition of individuals, organizations, and businesses dedicated to reducing global warming pollution, strengthening the economy, and making sure all families have a better future.

The Alliance is advancing a statewide policy initiative for 2018 to reduce carbon emissions and build a clean energy future. The initiative would invest in clean energy, clean water, and healthy forests, by implementing a performance-based tax on major polluters, while providing investment for disproportionately impacted communities and a just transition for workers.

Forum speakers include:
  • Sameer Ranade, Climate and Clean Energy Campaign Associate at Washington Environmental Council
  • Steve Garey, Steering Committee Member of the Washington BlueGreen Alliance, and retired refinery worker and union president of the United Steelworkers Local 12-591 
  • Edgar Franks, Civic Engagement Program Coordinator at Community to Community Development
  • Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities
  • Stina Janssen, Field Organizer at Washington Environmental Council

“In Washington State, we have a tremendous opportunity to fulfill the vision of a robust and just green economy. We can take on big challenges like climate change and improve the lives of ordinary people in the process. I encourage everyone in the area to come to this event to listen, learn, offer feedback, and engage,” said Sameer Ranade with Washington Environmental Council. 

For more information about the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, visit jobscleanenergywa.com.

RSVP for the event on Facebook at facebook.com/events/452064251813909.

Updates: This press release was updated on July 9th. Rosalinda Guillen of Community to Community Development will not be giving a short introduction. Stina Janssen was added to the list of forum speakers.

May 4, 2017: Author to share personal story of Exxon Valdez oil spill, discuss similar risks facing Salish Sea communities

posted May 8, 2017, 3:10 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated May 8, 2017, 3:11 PM ]

“Red Light to Starboard: Recalling the Exxon Valdez Disaster” author Angela Day will offer a book reading, presentation, and Q&A session on May 25th in Bellingham. 

“Red Light to Starboard: Recalling the Exxon Valdez Disaster” author Angela Day will discuss the 1989 oil spill and similar risks facing Salish Sea communities during a free book reading, presentation, and Q&A from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 25th, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St, Bellingham. The event is co-sponsored by North Cascades Audubon Society and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

“Red Light to Starboard” documents the tragic oil spill that stunned the world, discusses the environmental impacts from the spill, and recounts the regional and natural history of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska.

Angela Day lives in Snohomish, Washington and is married to Bobby Day, a long-time fisherman from Prince William Sound. The book centers on his story and that of his family, whose history is deeply rooted in the region. Based on a wealth of family history and first-hand experiences, the book offers a personal account of the oil spill’s impacts on individual lives and local communities.

During the event, Day will share her thoughts on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, which would nearly triple capacity of an existing pipeline ending just north of the U.S.-Canada border in Burnaby, British Columbia. The proposed project would drastically increase the amount of crude oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea.

“Whatcom County residents are faced with a potentially huge increase in crude oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea due to this proposed expansion project,” Day says. “I look forward to having a discussion about lessons learned and how they apply to the risks in the Salish Sea today by prividing some insights about what the past can teach us about the future.”

“Red Light to Starboard” won the Western Writers of America 2015 Spur Award in the Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction” category, and was a finalist in the annual Foreword Review INDIES Book of the Year Awards. For more information, visit re-sources.org/events or RSVP on Facebook.

Media Contact: Lee First, leef@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307

April 11, 2017: RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Students for the Salish Sea host Earth Day beach cleanup at Locust Beach

posted Apr 11, 2017, 5:36 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Apr 11, 2017, 5:37 PM ]


RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Western Washington University club Students for the Salish Sea are hosting an Earth Day beach cleanup at Locust Beach to remove trash and large debris from the beach.

The cleanup is from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday, April 22nd at Locust Beach. The trailhead to the beach is located at the dead end of Locust Avenue, off Marine Drive in Bellingham. Limited parking is available in a public lot on the north side of the street (map). Participants should meet at the Locust Beach parking lot. Participants are encouraged to carpool or ride your bike.

The event is coordinated by RE Sources’ AmeriCorps-Washington Service Corps members Natalie Lord, the Aquatic Reserve Coordinator for the Clean Water program, and Lindsey Gard, the Green Classrooms Coordinator for the Sustainable Schools program, along with Students for the Salish Sea.

“Plastic pollution can be found on every beach around the world, and it endangers hundreds of species due to ingestion and entanglement, including ourselves,” said Natalie Lord. “Join us on Earth Day at our local marine debris hotspot, Locust Beach, to help reduce our impact on the ocean and become better stewards of the Salish Sea."

The cleanup is appropriate for all ages. Light snacks and equipment will be supplied, but volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves and 5-gallon plastic buckets. Registration is not required.

Questions: Email Lindsey Gard at lindseyg@re-sources.org or call (360) 733-8307.

To RSVP for the event, go online to facebook.com/events/117925902084341.

Media Contact: Lindsey Gard, Green Classrooms Coordinator, lindseyg@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. For more information, visit re-sources.org.

Students for the Salish Sea is a club at Western Washington University that supports the restoration of the Salish Sea bioregional watershed. For more information, visit Students for the Salish Sea on Facebook.

April 7, 2017: RE Sources, Whatcom MRC launch North Sound Stewards program to train volunteer citizen scientists

posted Apr 7, 2017, 1:44 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Apr 7, 2017, 1:44 PM ]

Free trainings give program participants tools to participate in variety of beach surveys and play an important role in protecting marine resources.


This spring, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) are launching a comprehensive North Sound Stewards volunteer program that will train participants to become citizen scientists and play an important role in protecting our marine resources.

The program is in partnership with the Northwest Straits Initiative, the Northwest Straits Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves Citizen Stewardship Committees.

The program offers a variety of citizen science opportunities, including intertidal surveys, forage fish surveys, and sea star wasting syndrome surveys. Participants can also connect with other nonprofits and government agencies to receive additional trainings and participate in green crab surveys and ocean acidification surveys, among other opportunities.

“North Sound Stewards connects a group of people passionate about protecting the North Puget Sound,” said Eleanor Hines, program manager and lead scientist at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “The information we collect provides a baseline of data that informs policy, restoration efforts, cleanups, and more. Citizen scientists are integral to support important work that underfunded agencies cannot do themselves.”

The program requires 50 hours of trainings and surveys throughout a one-year period. Program participation can reflect individual skills, from the actual survey work to photography, data entry or event coordination. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome; children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Upcoming intertidal survey trainings (participation in one of two trainings is required):
  • Whatcom County: 12:00 - 4:30 PM, Saturday, April 29th, Heron Center, Birch Bay State Park, 7290 Birch Bay Dr, Blaine.
  • Skagit County: 12:00 - 4:30 PM, Sunday, April 30th, Interpretive Center, Padilla Bay Reserve, 10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mount Vernon.
For more information about North Sound Stewards, visit re-sources.org/north-sound-stewards. To sign up for the program, click the “Register Today” button. Questions? Contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 ext. 213.

Media Contact: Eleanor Hines, Lead Scientist, eleanorh@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307 ext. 213

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of Northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. For more information, visit re-sources.org.

The Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) is one of seven citizen-based committees in the Northwest Straits region to address marine issues. The purpose is to guide local communities, using up-to-date information and scientific expertise, to achieve the important goals of resource conservation and habitat protection within the Northwest Straits. For more information, visit mrc.whatcomcounty.org.

March 3, 2017: BNSF Railway required to clean up coal train pollution

posted Mar 3, 2017, 2:38 PM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Mar 6, 2017, 3:04 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities ]

Settlement of Clean Water Act case means coal and petcoke must be removed from several sections of the Columbia River. 


BNSF Railway (BNSF) will be forced to pay for the cleanup of Pacific Northwest waterways that were polluted for decades by coal or petroleum coke (“petcoke”) emitted from their open-topped train cars.

A finalized consent decree lodged with U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour today brings to a close a Clean Water Act case brought against BNSF by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Friends of the Columbia Gorge. 

During the week-long November 2016 trial, scientists testified that a million or more coal particles per second come off of each rail car, dumping mercury, arsenic, and hundreds of other pollutants into rivers, lakes and oceans along BNSF rail lines. Eyewitnesses also recounted being pelted by coal from passing trains while recreating or driving along waterways.

As part of the settlement, BNSF agreed to pay for a precedent-setting study about rail car covers for coal and petcoke train cars that puts the rail operator on a court-ordered path toward keeping coal and petcoke out of sensitive water bodies.

The settlement also requires BNSF to pay $1 million for environmental projects across the state of Washington, focused on projects in the Bellingham, Puget Sound, Columbia River and Spokane River areas. BNSF will also clean up the following areas of the Columbia River and its tributaries that have been littered with large amounts of coal and petcoke from BNSF trains:
  • Horsethief Lake 
  • Drano Lake Rail Bridge and parking area
  • White Salmon River and its confluence with the Columbia River
  • Confluence of Rock Creek and the Columbia River
  • Causeway near Murdock, WA
Environmental groups that brought the suit are celebrating the settlement:

"BNSF Railway spent decades downplaying the fact that coal from their trains was polluting some the most ecologically and culturally important waterways of the Pacific Northwest," said Cesia Kearns, Deputy Regional Campaign Director for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "This settlement finally forces BNSF to take responsibility for their impact on our water, clean up the mess they made and take steps to prevent similar pollution in the future."

“Our public waters are not dumping grounds for coal and toxic pollutants,” said Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director. “This settlement rightfully places the burden of cleaning up contamination from coal trains with the company responsible for the pollution, and it will also lead the way in affirming technologies to prevent coal from entering waterways in the future.”

"When dealing with corporations like BNSF, we as citizens must use every tool in our toolbox to ensure polluters — no matter how large or powerful — are being held accountable for contaminating our shared water resources. Owning their responsibility for the pollution they produce is simply the cost of doing business,” said Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. "In the North Puget Sound, we will never back down from fighting to protect the cleanliness of our water — even if it means taking on multi billion dollar companies in court."

This public health threat of BNSF’s coal trains would be exacerbated by Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposal to build the largest coal export terminal in North America in Longview, Washington, bringing up to eight additional fully loaded train cars a day travelling along BNSF lines between Longview and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Millennium has appealed a decision by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to reject a sublease needed for the project. The Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Study on the project is expected in June.

The plaintiffs are represented by Charlie Tebbutt, Dan Snyder, and Sarah Matsumoto, The Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, PC; Jessica Yarnall Loarie, Sierra Club; Andrea Rodgers, Western Environmental Law Center, David Pettit and Morgan Wyenn, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Nathan Baker, Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Media contact: Crina Hoyer, Executive Director, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, crinah@re-sources.org, 360-223-8678

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