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March 19, 2019 Press Statement: Portage Bay shellfish beds open in spring — Worth celebrating, but not expected to be a permanent fix

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:44 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:44 PM ]

The unusual opening for springtime harvest highlights both successes and shortcomings in managing fecal bacteria in our water

On March 19, Whatcom County announced that shellfish beds in Portage Bay will open for harvest in the spring.

This is great news for shellfish harvesters and for Lummi Nation ceremonial, subsistence and commercial harvests.

“We strive for a healthier Portage Bay, where a harvest closure is a bigger surprise than a harvest reopening,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources and member of the Portage Bay Shellfish District Advisory Committee. “We applaud the work that has led to this moment. It is critical that we keep a collaborative process to make economically and ecologically damaging harvest closures an extreme case.”

This spring opening is definitely worth celebrating, but is only part of the picture. The pattern of fall shellfish harvest closure is still anticipated due to the rainy season elevating levels of fecal coliform bacteria entering local streams and other waterways. Fecal coliform bacteria is an indicator that there is feces from warm-blooded animals, and likely pathogens, in the water. Dangerous spikes in fecal coliform levels can still occur, particularly after autumn rain events throughout our county, including Portage Bay and in the Nooksack River that flows into it. When harvest was closed for 10 years due to the bacteria levels from 1996-2006, Lummi Nation lost over $8 million in revenue. Portions of the harvest area were closed again in 2014.

Although Whatcom County data from February 2016 to January 2019 shows that average bacteria counts often meet health standards for most of the watershed, 70 percent of test sites also have unacceptably high spikes after rainfall, carrying bacteria into Portage Bay.

We should strive for a level of community engagement and collaboration that led to Drayton Harbor’s successful shellfish bed reopening in 2017, after 22 years of bacteria-related closures. As a member of the Portage Bay Shellfish District Advisory Committee, RE Sources works alongside farmers, tribes and concerned citizens to advise the Whatcom County Council on actions and operations relating to the restoration of water quality in the Portage Bay watershed.

March 11, 2019: RE Sources, Port of Bellingham host beach cleanup for World Water Day

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:36 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:36 PM ]

Friday, March 22: Volunteers will pick up trash near Squalicum Beach on international holiday, raising awareness about plastic pollution and inequality in access to clean water.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — In celebration of World Water Day on Friday, March 22, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Port of Bellingham, along with Northwest Straits Surfrider chapter, are hosting a trash and marine debris cleanup south of Squalicum Beach in Bellingham from 12:00-1:00 PM.

Volunteers can park at the Squalicum Beach Park Parking on Seaview Ave. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

“World Water Day is a time for communities to reflect on how we can improve the health of the waterways we all rely on,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources. “Water in the Salish Sea is threatened by plastic pollution, but we can stem the flow of plastic one stretch of shoreline at a time.”

The cleanup takes place by a breakwater that tends to accumulate lots of marine debris, including plastic waste, which is a major topic in Washington’s state legislature this year. Bills to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags, responsibly manage plastic packaging, and more are on its docket in the coming weeks.

“Tackling an issue on the scale of marine debris takes local residents, agencies, and advocacy groups picking up the pieces together. We hope this is the first of many cleanups the Port partners on with RE Sources,” said Port Environmental Planner Kurt Baumgarten.

Plastic pollution is a global problem for water quality and wildlife, and has even been found in drinking water and table salt worldwide. According to the UN, people use 5 trillion single-use plastic bags worldwide each year.

This year, World Water Day’s theme is “Leaving No One Behind,” in recognition of the fact that many people are excluded from access to clean water, especially marginalized groups worldwide – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and more. To learn more about World Water Day, visit worldwaterday.org

For details and to RSVP, visit www.re-sources.org/events. Cleanup equipment, snacks, coffee and tea will be provided. Please wear shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces.


Media contacts:
Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper, eleanorh@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307 ext. 213 Kurt Baumgarten, Port of Bellingham Environmental Planner, kurtb@portofbellingham.org, (360) 676-2500 Natalie Lord, NWS Surfrider Volunteer Coordinator, volunteercoordinator@nws.surfrider.org

# # #


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 Port of Bellingham was established in 1920. Throughout Whatcom County, the Port owns, operates and maintains approximately 1600 acres of property including a shipping terminal, a cruise terminal, two marinas, industrial development areas, commercial uplands, parklands, shoreline public access areas and an international airport. For more information, visit www.portofbellingham.com

The Northwest Straits is the local Bellingham chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the world's oceans, waves, and beaches for all people. For more information, visit nws.surfrider.org.

February 13, 2019: RE Sources leads tour of Bellingham waterfront industrial cleanup site, February 23

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:27 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:27 PM ]

Opportunity for public to learn and provide input on future of contaminated waterfront site.

BELLINGHAM, WA — On Saturday, February 23, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities will lead a public tour of a cleanup site that once housed a lumber mill and rock-crushing plant. The tour will begin at 2:00 PM at 28 Bellwether Way, Bellingham, and conclude at 3:30 PM. Staff from the Department of Ecology and the Port of Bellingham will be present until 4:00 to answer questions and encourage public comments on the cleanup plan released by Ecology.

“It’s important to stay engaged with the waterfront cleanup process and have a say in what happens to our shoreline. This is our opportunity to clean up one toxic site for the community to enjoy a working waterfront, free of contaminants that allows salmon and orca to thrive,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist for RE Sources.

The tour offers the community a chance to learn about and give input on the future of the site, which holds potential for business and public park space, as well as endangered Chinook salmon habitat restoration.

Ecology is accepting comments on its cleanup action plan for the site, called the I & J Waterway site, from February 19 to March 20, to hear the community’s input on possible paths forward.

This is part of an ongoing tour series of the 12 Bellingham waterfront cleanup sites listed under Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act, which contain contaminants like heavy metals and petroleum byproducts left from over 100 years of heavy industry — an era which ended with the closure of the Georgia-Pacific pulp mill in 2007.

For more information or to RSVP (encouraged but not required), contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 x213.

To send Ecology a comment and see details on the cleanup site, visit their webpage: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=2012

To RSVP on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/events/375554269843699/

# # #
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.

November 19, 2018: RE Sources for Sustainable Communities announces new executive director

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:23 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:23 PM ]

BELLINGHAM, WA — RE Sources for Sustainable Communities announced last week that their board of directors has hired a new Executive Director to lead the organization beginning December 3, 2018. Shannon Wright, the chosen leader, has been a Whatcom County resident for 11 years, and comes to RE Sources with experience in environmental activism, diversity, equity and inclusion, organizational development, international coalition building, and team leadership.

“Shannon brings a collaborative approach to building coalitions and teams, with a strong track record in advocacy strategy, ” said Charlie Maliszewski, RE Sources’ board president. “We couldn’t be more excited to have her strategic mind and visionary leadership guiding RE Sources into an exciting new chapter.”

Wright is the former ED of Communitywise Bellingham, one of the organizations that raised awareness of the risks of the proposed GPT coal terminal. She has also helped develop strategy to bolster the BALLE movement for localized economies; advanced 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.

“Northwest Washington is awe-inspiring, filled with stunning landscapes, rich ecosystems and vibrant communities. While we we are at forefront of environmental protection and sustainability, we also face growing threats from polluting industries, climate change and rapid growth,” said Wright. “I am honored to join RE Sources and work with our dynamic community to protect this corner of the planet we all love.”

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a nonprofit environmental education organization founded in 1982 as Bellingham Community Recycling, the group responsible for curbside recycling in our state. According to their website, RE Sources “empowers the people who live here to do all they can to protect our home, by providing individuals with the tools they need to safeguard our marine waters, fresh waters, and air.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Hannah Coughlin, Communications Director, hannahc@re-sources.org, (360) 420-4144


# # #

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization in Bellingham, WA 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.

October 18, 2018: RE Sources to lead tour of waterfront industrial cleanup site near Boulevard Park

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:18 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:18 PM ]

Public can learn about past and provide input on future of contaminated waterfront site, October 30th.

BELLINGHAM, WA — On Tuesday, October 30, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities will lead a public tour of a cleanup site on the north end of Boulevard Park, where contaminants remain in the soil from a coal-burning gas plant operated until the 1950s. The tour will begin at 1:00 PM from the South Bay Trail on State Street above Boulevard Park in Bellingham, and conclude at 2:30 PM. Staff from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Ecology, and the City of Bellingham will be present to answer questions and encourage public comments on the cleanup plan released by Ecology.

“We want to connect people with the process of cleaning up and reclaiming Bellingham’s waterfront,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist for RE Sources. “Many people who walk their dog, launch kayaks, or play frisbee at Boulevard Park don’t know they can have a voice in the futures of the very places they’re enjoying.”

Ecology is accepting comments on its cleanup plan for the site, called the South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant, until November 6. Ecology will also hold a public meeting at Bellingham City Hall after the tour on October 30, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM, to hear the community’s input on possible paths forward, such as protecting the shoreline with rocks to prevent contaminated soil from eroding into Bellingham Bay.

This is part of an ongoing tour series of the 12 Bellingham waterfront cleanup sites listed under the Model Toxics Control Act, which contain contaminants like heavy metals and petroleum byproducts left from over 100 years of heavy industry, an era which ended with the closure of the Georgia-Pacific pulp mill in 2007.

The most recent waterfront cleanup site to become fully accessible to the public, Waypoint Park, opened in June 2018. Read more here about Eleanor Hines’s experience leading a tour by kayak to Waypoint Park.

For more information or to RSVP (encouraged but not required), contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 x213.

To send Ecology a comment and see details on the cleanup site, visit their webpage: fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=4606

To RSVP on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/events/257683268282331

Media contact: Eleanor Hines, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, eleanorh@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307 x213


# # #
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.

October 4, 2018: Cherry Point Science Forum focuses on research and citizen science at the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve

posted Apr 8, 2019, 12:11 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 12:11 PM ]

Citizen Stewardship Committee hosts presentations on citizen science, studying birds, and ocean acidification — in the Reserve itself and beyond in the Salish Sea.

BELLINGHAM, WA — The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee is hosting its annual Cherry Point Science Forum to talk about research being done at Cherry Point and the Salish Sea at large. The forum is 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 13, at Bellingham Technical College, Building G, Room 102J, 3028 Lindbergh Ave.

This year’s forum will include speakers presenting on climate change impacts, the role of citizen scientists, bird surveys, and more.

Located in Whatcom County, the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is one of eight Aquatic Reserves in the state. Established by the Department of Natural Resources on state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound, Aquatic Reserves include important biodiversity and aquatic habitat critical to Salish Sea health.

Cherry Point Forum speakers and topics are:
  • The Puget Sound Seabird Survey: Monitoring seabirds across Puget Sound using community science — Jenn Lang, Conservation Science Coordinator, Seattle Audubon;
  • Ocean acidification in the Salish Sea: Herring and eelgrass in the future — Dr. Brooke Love, Oceanographer, Western Washington University;
  • Cherry Point’s unique role and place in the Salish Sea — Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the DNR provide staff support to the volunteer-led stewardship committee.

The Cherry Point Science Forum is free and open to the public. Coffee and tea is provided, and attendees can either bring $5 for pizza or their own sack lunch. Participants are encouraged to help make this a waste-free event by bringing their own coffee mug and plate/utensils.

For more information or to RSVP (encouraged but not required), contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 x213.

To RSVP on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/177156373125845/

# # #

The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee formed to increase public awareness and enjoyment of the Aquatic Reserve and assist DNR’s Aquatic Reserve Program to successfully implement the Aquatic Reserve’s management plan. The committee conducts scientific monitoring projects, performs education and outreach activities, and monitors actions in and around the reserve that may impact the ecosystem. For more information, visit aquaticreserves.org.

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.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources established the Aquatic Reserves Program promotes the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands that are of special educational, scientific, or environmental interest. For more information, visit dnr.wa.gov.

September 17, 2018: RE Sources, Mt. Baker Sierra Club and North Cascades Institute to host overnight Baker Lake trash cleanup

posted Sep 19, 2018, 1:10 PM by Simon Bakke

Volunteers will canoe along the shoreline of Baker Lake, removing trash after a summer of activity on the lake to ensure it remains clean for summers to come.

MOUNT BAKER, WA — RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Mt. Baker Sierra Club and North Cascades Institute will lead a team of volunteers to paddle the shores of Baker Lake, picking up trash to keep the recreational area in good condition and to prevent garbage -- especially plastics -- from harming wildlife and degrading water quality in the lake, nearby rivers and, ultimately, the Salish Sea.

The cleanup will take place on Saturday, September 29, but volunteers have the option to camp at Baker Lake for free the nights of September 28 and 29. Yeager’s Sporting Goods will provide several boats. Volunteers will also get to paddle alongside a kayak made entirely from plastic debris and learn about the global issue of plastic pollution.

"Plastic is forever. We are only beginning to grasp the extent of the issue now that we’ve discovered microplastics in our oysters and microbrew beers,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “We’re doing our part to clean up cherished outdoor places while stopping plastic from causing further harm. Plastics truly are a global problem, impacting all habitats everywhere."

While cleanup efforts often focus on beaches and urban parks, plastic contamination also affects environments in further away wilderness and recreation areas.

It can take 1,000 years for plastic to degrade, and the effects of plastic in freshwater habitat is not well understood.

For more information, visit the event webpage at www.facebook.com/events/484650352000875/, or email Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or Krista Rome at kristar@re-sources.org.

Event information
What: Cleanup and paddle at Baker Lake
When: Saturday, September 29, at 9am. Free camping Friday and Saturday night is optional. More details will be provided after RSVP. 
Where:   Baker Lake
More info: www.facebook.com/events/484650352000875/ 
RSVP: docs.google.com/forms/d/14KiMydbfftGgDKOO3OXfgOnsvTaje6aX_isRNNHFJww/ 

Media Contact: Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist, eleanorh@re-sources.org, (215) 287-0043

August 24, 2018: Community asked to donate clothes during September for Birchwood families in need

posted Sep 19, 2018, 1:07 PM by Simon Bakke

RE Sources and Birchwood Elementary host clothing drive throughout Bellingham to recycle clothing and help Birchwood families with back-to-school needs

BELLINGHAM, WA — Birchwood Elementary in partnership with RE Sources’ Sustainable Schools program is hosting a clothing drive for Birchwood families in need. The clothing drive will begin Tuesday, August 28th, with collection barrels located at RE Sources, Ragfinery, and Birchwood Elementary, and end Friday, September 14th. 

The clean, gently used items will be distributed to students and families in need during a “Back-to-School Clothing Market” held on Tuesday, September 18th at the Birchwood Elementary School from 4:15 - 6:15 PM. 

“Purchasing clothing, new or used, at the start of a school year is expensive,” says Carolyn Feffer, the school counselor at Birchwood Elementary. ”Together, we can alleviate the financial strain on local families, divert apparel from landfills, and conserve resources by reducing the need to buy new clothes,” 

“RE Sources’ Sustainable Schools program is providing ways for students, teachers, and families to reduce their waste, conserve water, and make smarter energy choices,” according to  Sasha Savoian, Education Specialist for RE Sources. “The textile and clothing industry contributes 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the second largest industrial polluter in the world. Small actions like recycling instead of trashing outgrown clothing can make a big difference to the planet, and to those who need it.” 

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 25 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills each year in the U.S. alone — a number that continues to grow every year. The EPA estimates that the textile recycling industry fails to recycle approximately 85% of post-consumer textile waste. The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.

Families throughout Bellingham are asked to donate clean and gently used long and short sleeve shirts, pants and jeans, skirts and dresses, sweaters and sweatshirts, coats, backpacks, shoes, and hangers.

Funding for this clothing drive and market comes from Re-Use Works and Ragfinery, who create job opportunities while reusing and upcycling discarded materials and textiles.

Media Contact: Sasha Savoian, RE Sources Sustainable Schools Education Specialist, sashas@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307 ext. 266

August 19, 2018: Community gathers where Canadian oil pipeline crosses Nooksack River to demonstrate concerns of spill risks

posted Sep 19, 2018, 1:02 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 1:03 PM ]

August 19, 2018

Concerned Whatcom County residents gather to raise awareness of the dangers of a nearby pipeline which could transport more of Canada’s tar sands oil.


FERNDALE, Wash. — More than fifty concerned community members came together on Saturday, August 18, on the banks of the Nooksack River where the 64-year-old Puget Sound Pipeline — a segment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline recently bought by Canada — crosses beneath the river, carrying about 30 percent of all crude oil shipped into Washington State.

Several speakers addressed the crowd at Hovander Homestead Park about the risks and hazards of the pipeline, and helped the attendees communicate their concerns to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“It's really important that Ecology hears from people in the community. Most matters of pipeline safety across the country are out of sight, out of mind, and nobody cares until one blows up,” said Carl Weimer, director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Weimer noted that the Pipeline Safety Trust is often the only one to provide a comment on local pipeline safety plans.

The federal government of Canada recently purchased the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, a Texas company. The transfer of ownership prompted Ecology to open a public comment period, ending August 25, on the pipeline’s Emergency Response Plan, which shows that there is no way to safely contain or clean up a heavy oil spill in the river.

“The Puget Sound region doesn't have emergency response plans for heavier crude oils. There are only plans to deal with spills of lighter oil, and even these are only capable of cleaning a small fraction of the spill,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “A spill of heavy oil in the Nooksack would be sure to devastate already-threatened salmon runs, which many rely on."


Contact: Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager, cleanenergy@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307

April 10, 2018: Squalicum High School hosts donated formal attire boutique before prom, removing barriers and reducing waste

posted Sep 19, 2018, 12:51 PM by Simon Bakke

April 10, 2018

RE Sources and Squalicum High School aim to make this special — but costly — dance accessible to all students and keep hundreds of pounds of textiles out of landfills

BELLINGHAM, WA — In an effort to make prom accessible to all students while reducing textile waste in the community, Squalicum High School will hold a boutique for its students to “shop” for donated formal clothing, at no cost to them, for their May 19 prom. RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and ReUse Works are collecting clean items until April 23.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States throws away 21 billion pounds of textiles every year, about 82 pounds per resident.

“This drive is extending the life of our natural resources - think of the energy and water it takes to manufacture a tuxedo - from growing and manufacturing the fibers all the way to the electricity the store uses to power its displays and sell you the tux. That's a lot of waste for one night. Our goal is to lessen the impact,” said Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager.

Renting or buying formal clothing can be expensive, preventing students who would otherwise attend this once-in-a-lifetime event from going.

“Honestly, it’s really helpful because in a family of seven and being low income I wouldn’t have been able to get a dress without this program,” said a junior at Squalicum High School who wished to remain anonymous.

The boutique at Squalicum High School will be open from April 30 to May 18, and during students’ lunch period they can try on outfits and take home their favorite. Anyone can donate their clean formal wear until April 23, including formal dresses, blazers, tuxedos, ties, suspenders, dress shirts, men’s dress shoes, and hangers at these locations:
  • RE Sources office (above the RE Store)
  • Squalicum High School
  • Barkley Public Library
Media Contact: Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager, 
 priscillab@re-sources.org,  (360) 733-8307 ext. 218

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