25 ways you made 2020 better for the Salish Sea region

RE Sources and supporters like you made a difference for the Salish Sea region despite a—let's face it—pretty terrible year. | December 22, 2020

Keep the work going

Thank you for your unwavering support and dedication to protecting the communities and the nature of the Salish Sea. We’ve accomplished a great deal together in 2020, despite the challenges of a global pandemic. Each win for the local environment will have long-lasting, positive impacts here in our community and region, and it’s all thanks to your contributions.

Protecting the Salish Sea

1. Held the line on risky fossil fuel expansions at Cherry Point while also mobilizing for permanent protections to safeguard our communities and the Salish Sea, expected to be adopted in 2021.

2. Mobilized 38 community scientists to put in hundreds of volunteer hours gathering data on marine life and shoreline habitat to help state and local agencies manage natural resources during the challenging circumstances of lockdowns.

3. Defended against dangerous rollbacks to the ever-important Clean Water Act under the Trump EPA, joining other environmental groups, regional Tribes and fishing organizations on a legal challenge.

4. Watchdogged emerging threats to our region, including tracking and providing critical expert opinion on proposed environmental rules and projects that could significantly impact local natural resources and the waters that feed the Salish Sea.

5. Engaged local leaders and conservation-minded community members with 8 virtual community science webinars, including the annual Cherry Point Science Forum, and four virtual educational workshops on issues facing local waterways.

Climate Action

6. Launched the campaign to transition away from dangerous fracked gas and move towards 100% clean, all-electric new buildings in Bellingham and across Washington, in coordination with a statewide coalition of nonprofits, architects, policy analysts, and community organizers.

7. Advanced community dialogue about publicly-owned electric utilities in a standing-room-only event with former US presidential candidate and Representative Dennis Kucinich.

8. Built local momentum on Bellingham’s climate action by co-hosting a forum about how we can power local buildings with 100% clean electricity in the coming decades.

We raised $10k to help teens take action on a local issue they care about.
Sustainable Schools

9. Responding to the significant increase in student interest and demand for ways to make a difference, our Youth for Environment and People (YEP) program doubled the number of high school students participating, expanding to 30 students who engaged, learned, and acted upon local environmental justice issues. 

10. By May, transitioned our in-classroom K-12 environmental education offerings to dozens of online lessons and hands-on activities for remote learning, providing kids, parents and teachers critical resources during a very trying period.

11. In collaboration with local partners, led the way in equipping 36 Whatcom teachers with the tools they need to teach climate science in their classrooms, as part of a statewide initiative called ClimeTime.

Freshwater Restoration & Fighting Pollution

12. Launched a map of local trash hotspots, which serves as a dynamic tool for targeted community action and a real time resource for individuals, families or small groups planning their own cleanups.

13. Vigilantly watchdogged our local waterways, including our staff carrying out 36 on-the-water and land-based pollution patrols in the region between the Skagit River and creeks in north Whatcom County. These extensive patrols include documenting a host of problems, cleaning up trash that threatens the waterways, and contacting relevant agencies when we locate pollution requiring further attention.

14. Collected 2,400 pounds of trash from local beaches, rivers and waterways at socially-distanced volunteer cleanups, and held a workshop for 30 boatyard employees and regulatory staff on how to prevent pollution at boatyards. More training equals better understanding and less pollution.

15. Along with 600 supporters, we urged Gov. Inslee and the Department of Ecology to protect salmon runs, Tribal treaty rights, endangered orca, and access to water in a changing climate by funding a legal review of water rights (known as an adjudication) in the Nooksack River.

Thriving Communities

16. Responded to emergency community needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak by partnering with Bellingham Makerspace, providing supplies and volunteers to create over 500 protective gowns for medical workers amid PPE shortages in April.

17. Helped push a slate of critical bills into law by mobilizing local and regional supporters. This included joining hundreds of folks from across the state at two lobby days in Olympia early in 2020, where our staff and volunteers met with lawmakers to discuss new environmental policies that have a good chance of becoming law. Our volunteers also sent over 2,700 letters in support of these bills.

18. Pushed for stronger action on toxic pollution that harms people and the planet. RE Sources’ North Sound Baykeeper Eleanor Hines represented Bellingham Bay stakeholders in the Department of Ecology’s process to update the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), which governs the cleanup of sites that have been contaminated by hazardous substances. We continue to stay engaged in this process and advocate for an updated MTCA that incorporates environmental justice and climate change.

19. Equipped Whatcom County residents with the pollution data and tools to take action for our region. This included creating 4 virtual tours of contaminated MTCA toxic cleanup sites: One for the Bellingham Waterfront, one for the old South State Street Gas Plant site at Boulevard Park, one for the Sea K Fish Cleanup Site in Blaine, and one for the Harris Avenue Shipyard in Fairhaven. These helped community members make their concerns heard and provide comments to the Department of Ecology in support of strong, climate-adapted plans to restore these places for the public.

20. Collaborated with farmworker advocates at Community to Community Development to get out the word in support of pandemic protections for farmworkers, who are at heightened risk of COVID-19. Almost 400 supporters sent Gov. Inslee messages asking him to raise protective requirements from employers.

Ending Waste

21. Despite a months-long closure and reduced capacity due to COVID-19, staff at The RE Store worked harder than ever to process record amounts of donated material and diverted over 2,050,000 lbs of material from the landfill. We also developed an online store, built a reputation as one of the safest places in the county to shop and supported countless businesses as they built safety shields and structures to allow for proper social distancing.

22. When COVID-19 forced families to stay home, our salvage crew picked up 520,000+ lbs of reusable material from homes and businesses around Whatcom County.

23. Diverted over 400,000 lbs from the landfill, working closely with our partners at manufacturing companies around Whatcom County this summer as they saw increased operations (and increased by-product in need of diversion).

24. Our Revision Division home furnishing brand received national attention when we received Top Score recognition in the 2020 Wood Furniture Scorecard produced by the National Wildlife Federation and the Sustainable Furnishings Council.

25. Continued our commitment to local employment and marginalized workers through our Community Jobs Training Program. The pandemic required adapting our approach this year, including a forced pause on volunteerism and suspending the Jobs Training for a period. We are happy to report that we have reinstated the program in November. In 2021, we plan to develop and launch a new training module — one aimed at providing the skills needed to obtain jobs in high-demand markets, such as manufacturing.

Again, thank you for protecting the communities and natural places of the Northwest, now and for generations to come. We’re poised to do so much more in 2021 with your support and collaboration.


Banner image by Buff Black