As environmental threats increase, North Sound Baykeeper only grows stronger

September 25, 2019

RE Sources invites the public to celebrate its North Sound Baykeeper’s 20th anniversary on Saturday, October 5, marking two decades of important successes for the community. The event will begin with a trash cleanup at the mouth of Whatcom Creek from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by a family-friendly social hour at Chuckanut Brewery from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. All are welcome to both parts of the event.

“The Salish Sea is part of who we are. We rely on it. It’s our home, and it’s up to us to protect it. We’re lucky to live near a body of water that’s been safeguarded by the North Sound Baykeeper for 20 years,” said Shannon Wright, Executive Director at RE Sources.

RE Sources’ North Sound Baykeeper, a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, has been a driving force for change — preventing projects that pollute local waters and endanger communities, cleaning up beaches, training volunteer citizen scientists, conducting on-the-water pollution patrols, and monitoring the health of the Salish Sea.

When the first North Sound Baykeeper, Robyn du Pré, launched her kayak in 1999 to patrol pollution hotspots, Washington State was rated #1 in the nation for discharging cancer-causing chemicals into our waterways — largely from the pulp mill that was dispensing toxic substances like mercury into the Salish Sea from Bellingham’s waterfront.

“Two years after the North Sound Baykeeper program began, the GP pulp mill was closed down and an extensive effort was launched to hold agencies to a thorough cleanup process — an effort that was led by the Baykeeper and fueled by the people power of this community,” said Eleanor Hines, RE Sources’ North Sound Baykeeper. “Without watchful, proactive initiatives like the North Sound Baykeeper, it’s difficult for the public to keep up with the constant threats to the waters we all rely on.”

For the next decade, the North Sound Baykeeper won dozens of legal actions against recalcitrant industries, partnered with state and regional governments to write modernized, common-sense pollution laws, and ignited public education and engagement.

In 2011, as then-North Sound Baykeeper Matt Krogh monitored the industrial permits that had been filed, he noticed a proposal to build North America’s largest coal terminal at Cherry Point. “As it has time and time again, the North Sound Baykeeper sounded the alarm and notified the community and regional partners of the coal terminal threat — igniting the largest environmental movement in our region’s history,” said Wright.

The organization engaged in a six-year battle to raise public awareness and oppose the project, with ultimate success in 2016 thanks to Lummi Nation’s victory in upholding their treaty rights.

“Both behind the scenes and vocally in public, the five Baykeepers over the years have been unwavering defenders of public health, clean water, and marine habitats that Washington relies on,” said Hines.

Chinook salmon populations in the Salish Sea are down 60% since 1984, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Yes, we have to continue to fight pollution. We also have to restore habitat, and find a way to protect human health. There are so many opportunities here in Bellingham and beyond to really forge the kind of marine and community environment we want. That is where the North Sound Baykeeper and RE Sources come in, and we’re committed to this work for the long haul,” said Wright.

The North Sound Baykeeper is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international nonprofit made up of over 300 organizations and affiliates protecting rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents, with a goal of swimmable, drinkable, fishable water everywhere.

WHAT: Celebrating 20 years of Salish Sea Protection

WHEN: Saturday, October 5th

WHERE: 

  • 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.: Maritime Heritage Park, 500 W. Holly St, Bellingham for a trash cleanup led by North Sound Baykeeper Eleanor Hines
  • 5:00 – 5:30: Meet your North Sound Baykeeper and social hour at Chuckanut Brewery
  • 5:30 – 6:00: Speakers from the international Waterkeeper Alliance, RE Sources, and others.

MORE INFO: To RSVP visit Facebook. # # #

RSVP Now2021 Environmental Heroes

Join us for the biggest event of the summer. Environmental Heroes is an online fundraiser & celebration featuring Rep. Debra Lekanoff & Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. RSVP now for the event on Wednesday, June 9th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.