A review of Bellingham Herald news articles dating back to the early 1980s reveals concern regarding Lake Whatcom Reservoir as a drinking water source. In 1992, a joint resolution developed and signed by city and county council members and Water District #10 provided remedies for the declining health of the reservoir. Unfortunately, no specific actions were taken on the resolution, and development continued unabated in the watershed.
In an effort to develop a cohesive analysis of all the information to-date on Lake Whatcom and its tributaries, the Lake Whatcom Management Team commissioned Entranco, Inc. out of Bellevue to assess the water quality conditions.
The technical report provided no new information, but yielded a recommendation that became a gambit for both developers and conservationists: the quality of Lake Whatcom was deemed as good, with a warning to take action in order to preserve it in its current state before decline continued. To the pro-development community, it was good news: nothing was wrong with Lake Whatcom and the doomsayers were simply reactionaries. The second part of the message, the one which might curb their monetary interest in the watershed and force more accountability, was simply deleted from their rhetoric.
Steps Toward Preserving Our Drinking Water
One of the authors of the report, Dale Anderson, reiterated at the time that members of the community needed to stop arguing about the current health of the lake, and start taking action to preserve the drinking water reservoir for our community's future.
The Bellingham City Council, in response to the 303(d) Clean Water Act listing of Lake Whatcom and its tributaries as a failed and threatened waterway, took action in the Winter of 2000 by passing the Silver Beach Ordinance, thus limiting impervious surface and building footprints in the Silver Beach neighborhood.
However, infilling in this corner of the watershed continues unabated, even though Silver Beach Creek has been listed on the 303(d) list of the Clean Water Act for fecal coliforms, a pollutant directly related to residential development.
Watershed Land Acquisition
The Bellingham City Council also took two more proactive steps to address the pollutants in Lake Whatcom Reservoir. In passing the Watershed Land Acquisition ordinance, they effectively developed a multi-million dollar means for acquiring land in the watershed, thereby nullifying the private property rights takings argument.
Although used pervasively in the past to subvert efforts to preserve the watershed, a 1998 Washington Supreme Court ruling invalidates the takings logic, by explicitly finding that protection of public health is a preeminent responsibility of government and may invalidate any vesting.
They concluded: Thus, in consonance with our long-established law, the majority agrees public health or safety concerns may supersede vested rights to development. Not only does government have a responsibility to protect pubic health, it has the legal right to do it before an emergency exists.
Stormwater Plan Developed
The Bellingham City Council's last response was to develop a stormwater plan for the city. Although critics may debate the mechanisms for funding, the plan was a required response to comply with federal and state regulations, and could no longer be avoided.
Community members may not be aware of their impact on the reservoir, even when they do not live directly on the lake. Stormwater from homes as far as Tweed Twenty empties directly into the lake, untreated. Put simply, washing a car on Lahti Street drains not just the surfactants of the detergent directly to the lake, but all of the harmful contaminants located on the vehicle and the roadways, such as cadmium and zinc.
Contaminants Found in Lake Water
A screening-level survey of contaminants was conducted by the Washington State Department of Ecology in 1998. Conducted in the Lake Whatcom and Whatcom Creek watersheds, water and sediments were collected from six streams or storm drains during spring and fall rainstorms, as well as tissues from several species of fish found in Lake Whatcom and Whatcom Creek.
Contaminants of concern included fecal coliform bacteria, copper, zinc, mercury, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, butylbenzylphthalate, di-n-octylphthalate, benzo(a)pyrene, diazinon, malathion, and pentachorophenol.
The potentially toxic levels of diazinon, malathion, and chlorpyrifos are near the Cable Street drain, the nearest drain to the inlet valve for the city's drinking water system. Each has human health risks from direct use and contact, and childhood and infant exposure to even low levels of such organophosphate pesticides is undesirable because of recently uncovered evidence of interference on bone formation.
Mercury levels were elevated in one sample of small mouth bass from Lake Whatcom, spurring a new yet-to-be released study with a larger sample size.
A number of chlorinated pesticides and PCBs were found in fish at low concentrations, although PCBs exceeded the National Toxics Rule criteria.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) ranged in levels five to 10 times higher than the Human Health Criteria.
Phthalates, a source of contaminant from insufficiently processed human wastes and sewage discharge, and a carcinogen banned in children's toys and pacifiers, also exceeded permissible levels under the National Toxics Rule of 1992.
According to Dave Serdar, a Department of Ecology scientist, water quality in the Lake Whatcom basin has degraded to the level of the largest urban area in the state.
Starkly comparing Lake Whatcom with urban lakes like Lake Washington and Lake Union is problematic considering that Seattle residents have the protected Cedar River watershed as their drinking water source, while Lake Whatcom provides our drinking water. Tacoma and Everett took proactive steps to protect their watersheds years ago.
County Council Plans No Action on Lake Issues
While the Bellingham City Council has addressed several concerns in the Lake Whatcom watershed, the Whatcom County Council has no current plans to address Lake Whatcom concerns, and reportedly none within the next two years. In fact, the Water Resource Management Team, the inter-local group comprised of the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Water District #10, is now increasingly focusing on other issues rather than on Lake Whatcom. The City of Bellingham puts $175,000 annually into this inter-local agreement, with many of the activities occurring outside of the city.
Residents Urge City/County Action
The following letter has been sent to all Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council members, along with the mayor and county executive, with a demand that the county and city complete a comprehensive environmental impact study and Total Maximum Daily Loading assessment on Lake Whatcom.
Without this environmental impact statement and a Total Maximum Daily Loading assessment, the city and county are continuing to make erroneous decisions about the watershed with no scientific data to guide those decisions. To prevent continuing degradation of the watershed while the studies are being completed, a temporary moratorium is being requested in the Lake Whatcom Watershed.
A U.S. District Court judge in Montana recently ruled that neither the state of Montana nor the Environmental Protection Agency can issue new or expanded point source permits until a Total Maximum Daily Load is developed. This ruling provides a legal precedent.
Breathe easily The Bellingham Herald said after the February 13 meeting on emissions from 40 diesel powered electrical generators. Trust the law was implied.
How many of you have heard of Cancer Alley in Louisiana? asked Steve Garritson executive director of Pacific Rim Enterprise Center and a specialist in air quality monitoring at the February 22 meeting. Many hands shot up. He then went on to say Cancer Alley has an abnormally high cancer rate despite airborne pollution within legal limits for individual compounds. Don't necessarily trust the law he implied.
And there in capsule form are the differences in tenor and conclusions of two quite different meetings. Detailed differences are given below.
The Bellingham City Council originally planned an information meeting open to the public on Georgia-Pacific emissions from 40 diesel power electrical generators, and it was scheduled for February 8. The purpose was to quell rising concern by Bellingham residents who would have to breathe the exhaust fumes.
Instead of quelling concerns, it swelled unrest. A protest march and passive resistance led to controversial arrests of the three people; they in turn are bringing a joint suit against the city.
Because of two telephone calls to one City Council member and a rumor never substantiated that anarchists from Oregon would disrupt the open February 8 meeting, the Bellingham City Council canceled the February 8 meeting. Instead the council substituted a televised meeting on February 12 that was closed to the public.
Preparation for an open meeting on Georgia-Pacific diesel emissions sponsored by citizens, not the City Council, began with the cancellation of the February 8 meeting. City Council member Barbara Ryan, speaking as a citizen, not a council member, favored such a meeting. However, Robyn duPre of RE Sources led the preparation for the meeting that was held on February 22.
The purpose of that meeting was to allow unrestricted information on toxic emissions from diesels in general and from the 40 Georgia-Pacific diesel engines in particular. Democracy at work was a huge success in the minds of those who attended the open February 22 meeting and who watched the television broadcast of the autocratic February 13 meeting.
The whole protocol of the televised February 13 meeting was designed to restrict and control subject matters. The theme was that approval of Georgia-Pacific diesel engines for eight months was a done deal. Citizens could submit questions to the panel of experts, but they had to be in writing in advance of the meeting.
Those questions were screened by the moderator in advance of the meeting. My own question was not asked of the experts. The only exception to that procedure was Robyn duPre. She was the only member of the public allowed to attend the meeting and the only member of the public permitted to ask questions not submitted in advance.
In contrast, the open meeting held February 22 had no restrictions on subjects related to the use of diesels by Georgia-Pacific. The meeting did have two procedural restrictions to promote order. Questions from the public had to be given orally into a microphone before making any statement. After a mid-meeting break, the meeting was open to statements.
Occupations of the Experts
All members of the panel of experts at the February 13 meeting were employed by the Northwest Air Pollution Authority, the Washington State Department of Ecology, or Georgia-Pacific. Circumspect discussion of atmospheric pollution from diesel engines within the confines of laws was the order of the day.
The only deviation was chary mention of the suit brought by businesses against the government for support of a 2.5 micron particulate standard instead the 10 micron size presently established by law. Particulates and the suit will be discussed in some detail below.
There were two air pollution experts at the February 22 meeting open to attendance by the public. Dr. Jane Koenig is an environmental health professor at the University of Washington and director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Northwest Research Center for Particulate Air Pollution and Health. Steve Garritson is executive director of the Pacific Rim Enterprise Center and a specialist in air quality monitoring. (Pacific Rim is a nonprofit organization with the objective of solving environmental problems through science and technology networks.) These experts evidently felt free to make candid and informative remarks without jeopardizing their jobs or their employers. Speak freely, they did.
Particulates and Health
Discussion of particulates dominated the comments by the panel of experts at both meetings. Particulate are very fine particles. Air borne particulates are very important health hazards because they are inhaled into lungs. The finer the particulates are, the deeper they penetrate lungs, the more difficult it is to dislodge them, and the more serious the health hazard. The health of children is most readily damaged because their lung passages are smaller than those of adults.
Particulates from diesel engines are unburned carbon, though some may have organic compounds adhering to them. Particulates from diesels tend to be the smallest particulates, and hence, diesel exhaust is a serious health risk.
The hotter the diesel exhaust, the finer the particulates. Diesel exhaust cools while going up the stack, but not very much. Thus modification of Georgia-Pacific's original plan for a 37 foot stack to a 75 foot stack is a move in the right direction, but the benefit will not be substantial.
Particulate Size and the Law
The relation between particulate size, health, and the law, can be fully appreciated only by taking the trouble to learn the meaning of terms used by bureaucrats, the relative abundance of size ranges in diesel exhaust, and how serious those size ranges are to human health. Those matters were not made sufficiently clear to novices at either meeting.
The term pm10 means total particulates smaller than 10 microns, and that is about 1/250 of an inch; pm25 means total particulates smaller than about 1/1000 of an inch.
Current law limits pm10 particulates to 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air in a 24 hour period, and to 50 micrograms per cubic meter per year. The proposed law now being fought in courts would limit pm2.5 particulates to 65 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24 hour period, and to .5 micrograms per cubic meter per year.
However, the principal particulates in diesel exhaust are less than 1/4000 of an inch. The proposed change would do some good, but not a great deal. One member of the panel of experts at the February 13 meeting later said that he thinks the 65 micrograms for the pm2.5 standard is too high. He would have specified 25 micrograms. As for me, the best way to keep the bad, the very smallest particulates from hurting people, would be to keep diesel exhaust out of populated areas.
Who Makes Laws Regulating Atmospheric Pollution
Of course, Congress and the State Legislature make laws regarding atmospheric pollution, and government agencies administer them. Less evident but often suspected are the lengths that businesses go to avoid expenditures to protect human health. The suit against the change in particulate standards is a smoking gun, a case in point. It is not a given that laws ostensibly passed to protect health will in fact protect health.
Georgia-Pacific Annual Emissions
Steve Garritson, executive director of Pacific Rim Enterprise Center, said there are two levels of atmospheric pollution set by law. One is short term peak emissions; the other is a yearly average that smooths out short term pollution peaks.
Georgia-Pacific has permission to run 40 diesel-powered electrical generators for eight months, and as allowed by law, their yearly average emissions was forecast by dividing emissions for the eight month period by 12. However, most people expect Georgia-Pacific to apply for an extension to run diesels for up to a year. Hence their yearly average emissions are likely to be much higher than the firm forecast.
As Shakespeare wrote, Sweet are the uses of adversity. If the city had not controlled the flow of information at the so-called informational meeting on February 13, the February 22 meeting would not have been held. Experts free to speak their minds would not have been heard. All of us are indebted to those who organized the February 22 meeting. You did a great job.
What Bellingham needs more than anything else is a government led by elected officials with brains hardwired to value democracy and to protect the interests of its citizens.
I'm grateful for this opportunity to share my perspective on current events, specifically Marlene Dawson's efforts in recent years to undermine the United States government's Treaty of 1855 with local tribes. Furthermore, she has discredited the Lummi Nation's efforts to settle the lease agreement between a Sandy Point residents organization (of which she is a member) and Lummi Nation. I've reviewed her articles in The Bellingham Herald over the years, some of which were headline news. I've read her most recent articles and heard her broadcasts on KGMI radio.
What value is this battle to Whatcom County? Whether her efforts have been to protect her own land interests at Lummi (Sandy Point) or land interests of her constituents, her approach is that of a blind man at the edge of a bluff. What's so frightening is that she may win if we don't speak up for ourselves. In spite of numerous Dawson-opposing letters in the Letters to the Editor section of The Bellingham Herald and KGMI responses to her questions, she plods on as though she has no opposition. United States treaties are ultimately the supreme law of the land. If one analyzes the before and after of treaty-making, she or he would see what these treaties did and did not accomplish. Here's my list on the Treaty of 1855.
There's so much real history hidden from the school system. Depressing? Wait until you hear how our language was removed from us and the tactics employed by the federal government in my parents' generation. In fact, these ragged-edge government policies linger within our Indian communities today (evidenced by Marlene Dawson's willingness to undermine our peace treaty and discredit our Lummi Nation). I'm curious to know how far she will take her job into this parade of nightmares.
Also, the Treaty of 1855 ensured the protection of our white neighbors; specifically, it says the Indians must not commit depredations upon their white neighbors. The penalties were sometimes paid severely by Indians. This clause remains in force today. Therefore, you will hear of no depredations upon people like Marlene Dawson or her property. With this Treaty of 1855 protection, then, she currently plans to diminish our land base, be a part of tribal voting power, and threaten our sovereignty.
Other tribes have ousted their Marlene Dawsons entirely. They did so legally. The protection of the treaties says no white settler shall alter the exterior boundaries of treaty tribes nor encroach upon a treaty right (which in Washington is fishing, including shellfish). Threatening the people so covered by peace treaties is what Ms. Dawson has done in a blatant manner.
Personally, right or wrong, I'd favor ousting such Marlene Dawsons from our Lummi land based on the bulkhead issue at Sandy Point. That Sandy Point bulkhead, built by Sandy Point residents, altered the exterior boundaries of Lummi tribal land. Also, Sandy Point residents have encroached upon our right to gather shellfish in our usual and accustomed areas so designated by treaty because beaches were not for sale when Sandy Point residents purchased their property. Beaches are treaty-protected property and are held in trust for tribes by the United States government.
I further believe Marlene Dawson is mocking the integrity of a people who are securely locked into a government-to-government relationship by harassing us through the media of the newspaper and radio.
The lease in question at Sandy Point is valid and was duly signed by the Lummi Nation and a Sandy Point residents' organization until 1988. Under the leadership of Marlene Dawson, the Sandy Point residents' organization has chosen to be stubborn and refuses to re-sign the lease. We believe it is only part of the problem at large.
In review, the peace treaty was made in 1855 and ratified ten years later. The terms of peace were slowly honored and possibly in place sometime after the year 1900. Marlene Dawson and the Sandy Point residents organization have currently taken a stand against all these efforts at peace. But the more we fight amongst ourselves like this, the more dependent we make ourselves on that crucial support from the federal government. I pray my letter will soften depredations committed against the Lummi people by Ms. Dawson.
My father was right: he said every few generations people forget the concessions made for this great land by the United States Treaty of 1855.
Yes, citizens really do make a difference as was evident Friday, February 16 at the Whatcom County Courthouse where the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) delivered a dramatic decision.
After a year developing public awareness of the SE2 project, thousands of area residents were relieved by the EFSEC's recommendation against allowing a proposed fossil-fuel power plant to be located in the community of Sumas, Washington. On balance, the significant environmental and social costs of the facility, if located at the site proposed, outweigh the resulting energy benefit it would provide only to the most competitive bidders in the wholesale markets of the Western states power grid.
After the National Energy Systems Company (NESCO) requested expedited processing early in the process, 80,000 citizen signatures supported the educational process that snowballed. Distributing facts provided by the company in their own application and the draft environmentaI impact statement was the necessary tool for demonstrating inconsistencies that EFSEC has now clearly considered and concisely expressed to everyone in their conclusions and findings of law.
Among EFSEC's conclusions were issues surrounding air quality, water quality and quantity, wetlands, flooding, need and consistency, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, fire, fuel supply, traffic and transportation, and a decommissioning plan.
During hearings, SE2, the applicant, a self-defined merchant plant made it quite clear that it will sell energy and capacity associated with the plant to the highest bidder wherever that bidder is located. Apparently SE2's energy would not be intended for Washington residents.
In addition, the huge consumption of natural gas would force rates skyward for Washington residents and industry. The 10,000 megawatts of new power plants in the Northwest either under construction, scheduled for construction, or with permits in hand illustrates that SE2's power is unnecessary and would exacerbate the natural gas crisis.
Air Quality of Grave Concern
Three tons of hazardous pollutants to be released daily into this already troubled air shed are of grave concern. In addition, the potential existed for up to 200 start-ups and shut-downs each year. There's [sic] potentially 1,200 hours a year of emissions that are unaccounted for when we look at the total emissions expected from this facility. The result is an under-estimation of the total amount of pollutants expected and the potential to affect air quality conditions further downwind from the S2GF [SE2 generating facility]. Secondly, burning natural gas daily with no diesel backup would still emit nearly three tons of pollutants daily.
Under the applicant's proposed draft site certification agreement (SCA), oil burning could occur whenever gas supplies are constrained, not just during a cold snap. Distinct inconsistencies existed between the applicant's site certification agreement and their claims of burning diesel an average of 10 days per year. Obviously SE2 was examining possibilities for much longer periods of oil burning. During testimony it was quite evident SE2 did not find removal of the diesel tank a possible option.
Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide) were addressed with monetary offsets and assumptions that older, coal-fired generation would be replaced. Owner of NESCO, Mr. Darryl Jones, agreed during hearings that older fossil-fuel generation facilities would not be replaced, thereby not reducing the carbon dioxide emissions.
Impacts on Local Water Supplies
Water quality, water quantity, flooding, wetlands, fuel supply, traffic and transportation, noise, fire, and site restoration were all of significant concern. Not only did SE2 provide inadequate evaluation of groundwater withdrawal effects on local wells, but they lacked meaningful mitigation for nitrate exceedances.
Farming and residential water consumption could suffer dramatically with little hope for compensation. Potential flooding was ineffectively assessed as was the cost of mitigation. SE2's response was, the County should use the dollars it would receive in taxes from the proposed project to help fund its general flood planning efforts.
Low frequency noise levels and resulting health impacts, of major concern for residents, were inadequately addressed and the offer of post-construction remedies was lacking in their proposed draft certification. Once again SE2's proposed draft is inconsistent with offers and assurances that it made during the hearing and in its briefing to the Council.
Twenty to thirty years from now as respiratory illnesses abound, residential and agricultural wells suffer inadequacies, and electrical and natural gas prices soar, NESCO would move on leaving Whatcom County with another site to restore. SE2's plan was a set of assurances and does not include any guarantee that there would be adequate financing to assure the site would be made safe and healthy for the community at the end of the plant's use. Undoubtedly the taxpayer may be expected to pick up the tab.
The Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council has had the foresight and wisdom to carefully apply their overriding policies to this proposal. Their final order of recommendation for denial protects public health and safety, and balances environmental issues with Washington's need for affordable energy.
Under a new program offered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, small forest landowners may now receive partial compensation for the trees they must leave along streams and rivers in order to protect water resources according to new forest practice rules.
Acknowledged as a first of its kind in the country, the Forestry Riparian Easement Program provides monetary compensation to small landowners who are disproportionately affected by new forest practice rules.
According to the state Legislature's Salmon Recovery Act of 1999, forestland owners must provide long-term, protective habitat for salmon and more than a dozen at-risk fish species that are impacted by logging, road building, and other regulated forest practices across nearly all Washington counties.
In May of 2000 the Washington Forest Practices Board adopted new forest practice rules to implement the forests and fish report, the result of two years of negotiation between the timber industry, small forest landowner organizations, tribal governments, state and federal agencies and counties.
Easement Program Created
Recognizing that the new laws governing timber management activities would have a proportionately greater impact on small landowners, the Legislature created the easement program to offset the loss in revenue to small forest landowners, thereby promoting their economic viability and maintaining the public values provided by their lands.
The rules authorize the Department of Natural Resources to purchase 50-year easements from qualifying landowners to protect harvestable timber near fish-bearing streams and other aquatic areas. In general, qualifying landowners must have a history of selling less than 2 million board feet of timber annually, possess 50-year rights to the protected timber, and hold an approved forest practices permit.
Small Forest Office Created
To administer the program, the Small Forest Landowner Office has been established within the Forest Practices Division of the Department of Natural Resources. The office serves as a focal point for small forest landowner concerns and issues.
By actively engaging the public, the small forest landowner office is working to create and promote incentives to help small landowners keep their land in forestry use, and continue their contributions to public values. The office is also developing criteria for alternate management plans that will allow small forest landowners site-specific flexibility in their management operations while providing riparian function.
For more information on the Forestry Riparian Easement Program and other assistance provided by the small forest landowner office, please call the Office at: 360-902-1389, e-mail at: sflo@ wadnr.gov, or visit their website at: www.wa.gov/dnr/sflo.
The gruesome and grisly game of modern American politics, ever-sinking to new lows, was not on the radar screen (not even close) for this up-and-comer when the filing deadline for public office whizzed by last July. Admittedly, the notion of running had occurred to me before, and heinous friends had encouraged it, but 2000 was not the year to dabble in voluntary bloodletting. Work was all-consuming, with little relief on the horizon. I had projects to finish. I had summer plans. Run? No way.
Then, in mid-August, a conversation erupted among fellow citizens concerning the macabre match-up that had materialized in the 42nd District legislative race. A former Republican, with the support of some local Democrats, had challenged the incumbent Republican for what appeared to be a fairly secure seat. State Democrats were throwing money at the race, hoping for an upset to help the party regain control of the Washington State House of Representatives. Besides money, what was there to lose?
At the same time, Ralph Nader and the Green Party were gaining attention among progressives and a broad spectrum of independent voters who were fed up with both major parties' carnivorous indulgence on big corporate money, and shallow talk on the issues. A local Green Party formed, and fired-up supporters began to take Nader's message to the voters. I heard the man speak in Seattle, and I must say, it was incredibly refreshing to hear a passionate, articulate candidate for high office stating clear positions on difficult issuessound bites and media hype be damned. Millions of independent voters, whether they agreed with him or not, were drawn irresistibly to Nader's informed panache and spontaneous humoreven if he was a little harsh on Mr. Gore.
In the 42nd District race, the circumstances were ripe for a progressive, independent candidate to join the evil fray. But it would mean a last-minute write-in campaign, and very long odds on a victory. There was talk about the Greens running someone, but a late campaign meant a strong probability of defeat first time out of the gate. Not good. The talk shifted to an Independent contender. Some had the nerve to suggest that I run. Flattered, I made some calls, but found no takers. It soon became clear that if anybody was going to run, it was probably up to me.
To Leap or Not to Leap
So I did the thing some of us do when life gets a little testy. I went to the mountains. It is my experience that the mountains teach the soul to take risks, to expand horizons and sharpen the senses, to unclutter the mind, and talk to the rocks. And the rocks said, Just do it. Well, not exactly. To be honest, they didn't say anything. They were useless. I savored the forty-mile view, descended, drove back to town, went to bed, and woke up in the middle of the night, muttering, Hell no! I'm not running. That's final. Like a lamb, I drifted back to sleep.
You know, the scariest thing about running for public office for the first time is the decision itself. Eventually, you do get over it. When I woke up a second time, I changed my mind, and around noon, eight days before the September primary, I marched into the courthouse and filed as an Independent candidate for state representative.
Literally overnight, a scrappy campaign materialized, volunteers hit the streets, and I personally rang more doorbells in a week than I'd rung in a lifetime. Disgruntled Democrats, displeased and disapproving of the party's official candidate, joined the campaign, nape raised and teeth gnashing. We needed about 300 write-in votes to move on to the November ballot. When the final numbers came in, we tallied almost 900a record for the district, as far as anyone can recall. Even the Secretary of State's office expressed surprise at the outcome.
The campaign mushroomed. We opened an office downtown, phoned supporters, organized fundraisers. There were political forums, media interviews, signs, mailings, a website, walking lists, voting trends to analyze, pizza to slice, and disclosure reports to file. And now, months later, I remain extremely grateful to those who contributed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to the cause.
In fact, we raised more money in the district in a month than both the Democratic and Republican candidates combined raised all year. Yet we were heavily outspent, thanks to the flimsy rules of campaign finance that allow big corporations and political action committees from afar to funnel money, almost without restriction, into both parties, and ultimately, to virtually any state or federal campaign they choose to target. In year 2000, spending by the two major parties nationally was well into the billions of dollars. Ungodly sums are frittered away mindlessly, as mainstream politics seeks to homogenize democracy and stake a claim on a political center that, as best I can tell, doesn't exist.
Without meaningful campaign finance reform, and a return by both major parties to the core values that drive their constituencies, we should not expect much to change. The Republicans, having baldly dissed the voters in Florida, with the morbid consent of the U.S. Supreme Court, will not likely be leading the charge for accountability. Democratic leaders, in the meantime, appear paralyzed by the whole affair, and their top fundraiser was just put in charge of the national committee. In both parties, money, more than ever, seems to be driving politics far more than ideas. It ought not to be that way.
In the end, we were, in our own roundabout way, victorious. Despite the huge sums spent by the opposition, we received just over ten percent of the vote, which according to those who follow such things, was a hell of a good start. Given just a seven-week campaign, no party backing, a limited budget, and an inexperienced candidate, a double-digit finish was pretty darned all right. And no broken bones.
Natural landscaping is about learning to work with, rather than against nature. It's about growing plants adapted to the conditions in our local region.
It's about reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals to feed plants not adapted to our soil and climate. It's about conserving water.
It's about bringing to your backyard the natural beauty of the wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that make the Pacific Northwest so magnificent. Native plants will co-exist harmoniously with exotic plants or form a spectacular natural garden on their own. And there is the opportunity to do research' out-of-doors in incredibly sublime settings!
What are Natives?
The term native plant may be new to you. Every plant species started out as a native plant somewhere. A North American native plant is a species that occurred naturally in a specific geographical area prior to European settlement. Plants have long been valued for the food and medicinal uses. European settlers brought many species with them when they moved to North America.
Plants that are not of local origin are referred to as introduced or exotic plants. Some of these introduced plants escaped the garden and have taken up residence in the wild. A naturalized plant is an introduced, non-native species that grows in the wild without cultivation. An example of an escapee is foxglove. Foxglove, or Digitalis, has a long history of medicinal uses and was introduced to North America from Europe. Although it has flourished in the wild, it has not been so aggressive that it has displaced native species.
However, some other garden-cultivated escapees aggressively crowd out the native species. These plants are considered noxious weeds and attempts are made to eliminate or manage their populations. Some of the plants on the Whatcom County noxious weed list include Scotch broom, purple loosestrife, and knapweed.
Choosing the Right Native Plant
Indigenous plants are adapted to our regional climate. While this makes them a safe bet for success, you still need to pick the right plant for each niche or little microclimate in your garden.
Some plants are generaliststhey are able to survive in a wide range of conditions. Serviceberry is a shrub that can be found in the wild in the sun or shade as well as in dry to moist soils. Other plants are specialists. They require a narrow range of soil type, sun exposure, and drainage.
Field guides provide information about native plants and their growing requirements. I use Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska, by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994); Mountain Plants of the Pacific Northwest: A Guide to Washington, Western British Columbia, and Southeastern Alaska, by Ronald J. Taylor, Kathleen Ort, and George W. Douglas (Mountain Press Publishing, 1995); and Wayside Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, by Dee Strickler and Zoe Stricker (Falcon Publishing, 1992).
These books have pictures of the plants as well as written descriptions. The ecology or habitat where the plant naturally occurs provides information about sun exposure and water needs.
Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest, by Arthur K. Kruckeberg (University of Washington Press, 1996) offers a good introduction to the potential for gardening with natives.
Where to Buy Natives
Retail nurseries carry a limited selection of native plants. If you are interested in native plants, tell your favorite retail nursery. They are in business to provide for your gardening needs. You can often find native plants at special plant sales such as the Fairhaven Neighbors Spring Plant Sale. The Whatcom Conservation District is currently taking orders for bare-root native plants. After selecting the right plant, give it extra care the first growing season until the plant becomes established.
With over 250 species of native plants that are known to take readily to a cultivated garden, it was very difficult to limit the list of plants provided with this article. There are so many choices. So get out those field guides and go for a hike. Don't forget a notebook; you'll get lots of ideas for your garden.
Native Plants for Natural Landscaping
Medium-Low Evergreen Shrubs Gaultheria ovalifolia Wintergreen Sun-Shade Well-drained Gaultheria shallon Salal Sun-Shade Well-drained Juniperus communis Common Juniper Sun Well-drained Ledum groenlandicum Labrador Tea Sun Moist Mahonia nervosa Low Oregon Grape Shade Well-drained Pachistima mysinites Oregon Box Sun Well-drained Ground Cover Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnikinnick Sun-Shade Well-drained Asarum caudatum Wild Ginger Shade Moist Ceanothus prostratus Mahala Mat Sun Well-drained Dicentra formosa Bleeding Heart Shade Moist Maianthemum dilatum Wild Lily of the Valley Shade Moist Sedum oreganum Oregon Stonecrop Sun Well-drained Smilacena stellata False Solomon's Seal Shade Moist Medium-Low Deciduous Shrubs Myrica gale Sweet Gale Sun Moist Potentilla fruticosa Shrubby Cinquefoil Sun Well-drained Rhododendron occidentale Western Azalea Shade Moist Sherperdia canadensis Soapberry Sun Dry Spiraea betulifolia Shiny-leaf Spirea Sun-Part Shade Dry Spiraea densiflora Subalpine Spirea Sun Dry Perennials Aquiligea formosa Sitka Columbine Part Shade Moist Camas leichtlinii Great Camas Sun Moist Dodecatheon pulchellum Shooting Star Sun Well-drained Erigeron peregrinus Subalpine Aster Sun Moist Fritillaria lanceolata Chocolate Lily Part Shade Well-drained Iris tenax Oregon Iris Sun Well-drained Penstemon serrulatus Cascade Penstemon Part Shade Well-drained Evergreen Trees Abies procera Noble Fir Sun Well-drained Juniperus scopulorum Rocky Mt. Juniper Sun Dry-Moist Picea sitchensis Sitka Spruce Sun Moist Pinus monticola Western White Pine Sun Dry Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar Sun-Shade Moist Tsuga mertensiana Mountain Hemlock Sun-Shade Dry-Moist Deciduous Trees Acer circinatum Vine Maple Shade Dry-Moist Cornus nuttallii Pacific Dogwood Shade Dry Corylus cornuta Hazelnut Sun Dry-Moist Prunus emarginata Bitter Cherry Shade Moist Quercus garryana Garry Oak Sun Dry Sorbus scopulina Western Mt. Ash Sun Well-drained Tall Evergreen Shrubs Actostaphylos columbiana Hairy Manzanita Sun Well-drained Ceanothus thysiflorus Blue-Blossom Sun Well-drained Ceanothus velutinus Mountain Balm Sun-Part Shade Well-drained Mahonia aquifolium Tall Oregon Grape Sun Well-drained Rhododendron macrophyllum Rhododendron Shade Well-drained Vaccinium ovatum Evergreen Huckleberry Sun-Shade Well-drained Tall Deciduous Shrubs Amelanchier alnifolia Serviceberry Sun-Shade Dry-Moist Cornus stolonifera Red-Ozier Dogwood Sun-Shade Moist Holodiscus discolor Oceanspray Sun Dry-Moist Philadelphus lewisii Mock Orange Sun Well-drained Physocarpus capitatus Pacific Ninebark Sun Moist Ribes sanguineum Red-Flowering Current Sun-Shade Well-drained
We cannot legislate political will. If responsible institutions and political leaders wanted to make the laws work for salmon, they could have done so long ago. They have not. The threat of the Endangered Species Act may have temporarily strengthened their resolveand the resolve of ordinary citizensbut the current window of opportunity will not stay open for long.1 We must take advantage of it while we can.
That means all of us. We cannot expect government to change on its own initiative. And we cannot count on the traditional stakeholders to demand the changes we need. Government has often gone out of its way to involve those stakeholders in decision-making. The result has been the continued decline of wild salmon populations and the listing of Puget Sound chinook.
No one should be surprised. Most traditional stakeholders are people who profit from destroying wild fish and habitat. The foxes have been guarding the chicken coop too long. Besides, the traditional stakeholders do not include the majority of taxpayers and citizens without whose money and cooperation wild salmon cannot survive.2 Government must recognize that we are all stakeholders now.3
Charade and Political Cowardice
This does not mean that government should dump the problem into the laps of citizens' groups without first setting priorities and establishing a framework of policy and funding.
Asking people to commit years of time and effort without any assurance that money will be available to do what they decide should be doneor, indeed, any assurance that what they want done has any place in a coherent regional planis unconscionable. Yet government is already doing it. We do not need more of the same.
We do need to act like stakeholders. We must demand information.4 And we must demand institutional change. Up to now, salmon protection has largely been a charade. The current exercise in hand-wringing may be simply the latest chapterfor many wild fish populations the final chapterin a long saga of self-interest and political cowardice. But it does not have to be. If we try, we can write a new ending for our regional history of law-breaking and neglect.
The stakes are high. They go far beyond whatever the National Marine Fisheries Service may or may not do to enforce the Endangered Species Act. They go to the heart of what it means to live near Puget Sound.
Wheelbarrows Full of Salmon
Old-timers talked about streams so thick with spawning salmon that you could walk across on their backs without getting your feet wet. Those stories may have been apocryphal, but the abundance they described was absolutely real. It shaped the natural character of the Puget Sound region and the human experience of living here.
The region's historic abundance did not exist in some misty, half-legendary past. A few generations back, it was a commonplace of daily life.
In 1976, Ed Sampson, a 73-year-old member of the Lower Elwha S'Klallam tribe whose father had farmed near the mouth of the Elwha River, recalled that before the Elwha was dammed, the river was filled with fish. When I went out fishing with my grandmother, I would catch 50 fish. She would catch 100. We'd carry them back in a wheelbarrow. 5
A couple of years ago, an old man stood in a little fish store only a few miles from the Sound, looking at the salmon lying behind glass in a cooler case and marveling at how much they cost.
When the old man was a boy living near the Duwamish River, he said, he could stand on a wooden bridge across the river, look down into the water, and see hordes of salmon swimming back to their spawning beds upstream. He would catch big salmon and take them home to his mother. After a while, she told him to stop. So he caught big salmon and gave them to the neighbors. After a while, they told him to stop. There were so many big chinook salmon in the Duwamish that he literally couldn't give them away.
The wild salmon runs, like the ancient forests, were not larger than life. This was a place in which life itself grew awe-inspiringly large.
A Long Journey Back
We can recapture at least a part of that natural heritage. We cannot erase a century of development. Most of us would not want to do so. But we can give our children and grandchildren a chance to see great wild salmon runs in familiar rivers, to experience Puget Sound as the cornucopia it used to be.
It will be a long journey, fraught with political and scientific uncertainty. We will not reach our destination by making pious statements, using salmon restoration as a pretext for snaring extra public works money, or squabbling over who gets to catch the remaining fish.
We will not get there if our attention wanders or our energy flags. But we can do it. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Our own first step should be obvious: respect the environmental laws we already have. Americans like to think of themselves as a nation of laws. In our own corner of the United States, we can start acting like one.
This research report was commission by the Bullitt Foundation. Its conclusions were reviewed and approved by a body of ten former natural resource agency managers, independent scientists, environmental lawyers, and a legal scholar.
1. Arguably, endangered species listings have created a similar window in the Columbia Basin. The problem with fish and wildlife recovery as we see it is lack of organization or lack of authority. All that has changed now that we have 12 populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin listed as endangered or threatened. The region is energized to prevent the extinction of these Northwest icons and will accept nothing less than success. Karier, Tom, and F.L. Cassidy, Jr., Regional Overseers Are Not Necessary for Northwest Resources, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (October 1, 1999) page A15.
2. Polls suggest that a large majority of Washington residents care about wild salmonand does not care much about either commercial or sport fishing.
3. Just as the issue should not be left to the traditional stakeholders, it should also not be left to the technical experts. One could easily substitute Puget Sound for Columbia Basin in Michael Blumm's statement that [i]n the end, neither science nor economics will spare endangered Columbia Basin salmon from extinction . [How much scientific certainty should be required before the region moves ahead to save the runs] is fundamentally a question of values, a subject in which scientists possess no special expertise. Similarly, economists can offer no special insights as to how much the region should be willing to pay for restored Columbia Basin salmon runs. That is a policy question that ought not to be left to specialized technicians . [I]t is a question to be resolved by the public. Blumm, op. cit. There is no point in committing resources to a strategy that will not work. Scientists must figure out what the fish need, what approaches are likely to bear the most fruit. But as Blumm argues, the fate of wild salmon is not a technical problem. To solve it, we must enlist broad public support, and we must redefine the significance of salmon to the Puget Sound region. [R]ational salmon management is not just a search for technologies, it is a search for values. Scarnecchia, D.L., Salmon Management and the Search for Values, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 45: 2042 (1988).
4. We should all have access to current information about how our representatives vote on legislation crucial to salmon and about how our state agencies do their jobs. For example, how widespread is illegal water use? Where is it most prevalent? How many people does the Department of Ecology commit to enforcing the water laws? What enforcement action has it taken? What have been the results?
5. Chasan, Daniel Jack, The Plan to Undam the Elwha, Defenders vol. 67, no. 3 (May/June 1992).
Location: Lake Samish Drive between 24th and 30th
Area: 38 acres
Originally called Gates Park, it was changed to The Arroyo soon after its creation.
Around 1912 Park Commissioner Roland Gamwell, who was at the time turning Elizabeth Park from a baseball field to a landscaped park, suggested that the city purchase a tract of forest in the vicinity of the future Arroyo Park.
This land would be an asset in the future when it became possible to build a first-class boulevard (the future Chuckanut Drive) in the vicinity, replacing the trail along the mountainside that the State Highway Department was then supporting.
The purchase was supported by both Cyrus Gates and C. X. Larrabee, two local businessmen who had contributed greatly to the development of Whatcom County. Gates had been allied with the creation of the Mt. Baker Lodge and adjoining highway among other activities, while Larrabee was not just the namesake of Larrabee State Park, but also a Fairhaven real estate dealer and railroad man.
In 1923, three years after the paving of Chuckanut Drive from the city limits to Washington's first state park, Larrabee, Cyrus Gates donated 38 acres (Gamwell's tract of forest) to the city for park purposes in what local historian Lottie Roeder Roth called, one of the largest and most valued public park gifts to the city. (It's been suggested by later historians that the move was more for tax purposes than true philanthropic sportsmanship.)
Modesty Wins Out
The enthusiastic Park Board was so thankful for the donation that they unanimously voted to name it Gates Park. Cyrus Gates earnestly protested the chosen name and urged the Board to christen it The Arroyo. Whether it was out of modesty or embarrassment one cannot tell. (Though according to his obituary he was extremely modest. He shunned publicity at all times, but he forever had the welfare of Bellingham at heart.) Arroyo is a Spanish word for gully, justified by the gorge of Chuckanut Creek running through the park and forming its main geological feature.
The Bellingham Reveille announced in April, 1923, that members of the park board are unanimous in declaring the site the ideal location for a picnic and camping ground. Tourists coming from the south and north will be able to rest and recreate at this oasis for tired travelers. This was the first official notice that 38 acres on the southern border of Bellingham (off of Richard Drive) would now be known as The Arroyo or Arroyo Park.
Trolley Service Through the Park
The park is located above the gulch over which the Hibridge was spanned. This was a 700-foot-long and 130-feet-high wooden trestle built for the Bellingham & Skagit Interurban (trolley) that traveled between Bellingham and Mount Vernon until the more economical bus became the transportation of choice.
Construction of the trestle began in May 1911 and took about 150 laborers to complete it by the deadline of June 1. In 1925 a steel bridge was built to replace the collapsing weather-worn trestle. This was removed in the 1930s. Today, the only remaining existence of the two trestles are the cement supports from the steel bridge that can be seen on each side of the gulch.
Along with the land donation, Gates also contributed $500 to help start the park's development, with the Park Board matching the amount. Park development had to be temporarily postponed, for work was simultaneously being done at Cornwall and Fairhaven Parks and had to be finished before other projects could be pursued.
Original plans for the park called for the building of landscaped dams along Chuckanut Creek to create a series of waterfalls.
Sprucing Up the Arroyo
In 1979 a clean-up project was initiated, which saw the removal of a wide variety of junk, including rusted automobiles and refrigerators, that had accumulated in the park. Funding for the project came from the Comprehensive Employment Training Act, a now defunct federal project.
In 1986 the Francis Larrabee Garden Club contributed $150 towards improving the park. Trails were widened, stumps removed, the area landscaped and bridges built with lumber donated by the Frank Brooks Lumber Company.
Most of the work that has followed has consisted of the creation of trails traversing the park. The provision of a minimal amount of landscaping has allowed the wilderness of Arroyo Park to be preserved in its natural state.
NEXT MONTH PART NINE
Bloedel Donovan Park
Dear Council Member,
Lake Whatcom is currently listed under the impaired / failed waterways 303(d) listing of the Clean Water Act. According to recent Federal District Court rulings, a Total Maximum Daily Loading (TMDL) study is required by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
A comprehensive TMDL study takes up to five years, and indicates the health of a threatened and impaired water body, yielding specific data and recommendations with which to make decisions regarding the water body on the 303(d) list.
Lake Whatcom and several of its tributaries has been listed on the 303(d) list of the Clean Water Act, with no subsequent comprehensive TMDL to indicate how much pollution the lake can tolerate. The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County need that valuable data to drive decisions in the watershed such as development, use of motorized watercraft, and logging.
In fact, development continues per status quo in the county portion of the Lake Whatcom watershed, and the city only just recently passed the Silver Beach Ordinance, limiting the amount of impervious surface in the Silver Beach neighborhood.
While this ordinance limits the amount of impervious surface and building footprint, the Silver Beach neighborhood is continuing to be built-out and infilled, despite the lack of updated storm water systems. Furthermore, Silver Beach Creek has been listed on the 303(d) list of the Clean Water Act for fecal coliforms.
Lake Whatcom is the primary drinking water source for 65,000 city residents, with a request by the City of Lynden for additional water from this water source. While the importance of Lake Whatcom as a drinking water source is generally acknowledged by all governing bodies within Whatcom County, a comprehensive Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the Lake Whatcom watershed has yet to be initiated. In essence, in spite of no other valid drinking source options, this federally listed impaired water body has not received the essential research evaluation needed in order to ascertain its ability to sustain its users for the future.
In light of the lack of comprehensive study to guide the present and future of Lake Whatcom, we are requesting the following immediate interventions:
1. The City of Bellingham conduct an immediate comprehensive Environmental Impact Study on Lake Whatcom.
2. An immediate comprehensive TMDL study on Lake Whatcom be conducted by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
3. An immediate temporary moratorium on all development in the watershed until these two studies are completed and signed by the following responsible agencies: Department of Ecology, Department of Fish and Wildlife, the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Water District #10, the Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Indian Tribe. The temporary moratorium shall be lifted when both the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County have enacted appropriate ordinances with adequate enforcement to handle all problems included in the EIS and TMDL studies.
We also request that the following actions be undertaken to address the concomitant pollutants in Lake Whatcom:
1. Closure of Bloedel boat launch to internal combustion boating, with the Bloedel boat launch used solely for human-powered, sail or electric powered boats. At a minimum, restriction of all two-cycle engines, including jet skis from the Bloedel boat launch.
A one-hour ride on a typical jet ski creates more pollution than a typical American car in one year, while two-stroke engines expel 25-30 percent of their fuel unburned into the water (see Earth Island Journal, Summer 1999).
2. The City of Bellingham request that Whatcom County, Sudden Valley, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also place the same restrictions on their Lake Whatcom boat launches.
3. The City of Bellingham conduct weekly tests for fecal coliforms in Lake Whatcom during the summer months (July and August). These tests should be made public and posted in The Bellingham Herald and in swimming areas.
4. Support the grant application efforts for land acquisition in the Lake Whatcom Watershed by utilizing the part time city-funded grant writing position. The amount of land acquired via matching funds from state, federal, or private grants could be doubled or tripled using this mechanism.
However, according to our elected representatives at the state level, Washington State officials are skeptical about supplemental funding of watershed land acquisition needs when motorized watercraft continue to operate on our drinking water source.
5. Proactively support the study of issuing bonds for accelerated land acquisition within the Lake Whatcom watershed. For example, $30 million dollars in bonds issued in 2002 could acquire and protect more watershed land quickly. See www.epa.gov/bonds for more information. Legal precedent supports the aforementioned actions.
As recently as 1998, the Washington State Supreme Court explicitly found that protection of public health is a preeminent responsibility of government and may invalidate any vesting. The Supreme Court also concluded: Thus, in consonance with our long-established law, the majority agrees public health or safety concerns may supersede vested rights to development.
Federal District Court Judge Molloy of Montana ruled that the State of Montana must develop TMDLs for the 1996 303(d) list, regardless of subsequent de-listing. Judge Molloy also clarified that neither the state nor the Environmental Protection Agency can issue new or expanded point source permits for waters that are WQLS [Water Quality Limited Segments] until a TMDL is developed.
Thus, legal precedence exists to stop development in Lake Whatcom watershed until a TMDL study is completed. The land acquisition funding mechanism also provides financial relief for those property owners who will be disenfranchised as the result of a temporary moratorium.
Bellingham businesses and civic and community groups are now being asked to demonstrate their support for a temporary moratorium with the EIS/TMDL actions.
Members of the Clean Water Alliance will be calling to meet with you if you have further questions regarding the EIS and TMDL study, or the requested temporary moratorium proposal. Together, we hope to create a proactive plan to secure the healthy future of Lake Whatcom and its watershed.
Sincerely, Clean Water Alliance
This winter the Whatcom Land Trust received a donation of 5.37 acres of wetlands and open space along Kendall Creek from Jo Anne Harrison and her family. Harrison and her three daughters made the gift in memory of J. Arley Harrison, husband and father.
Kendall Creek is an important salmon stream in northeastern Whatcom County. The donated property includes over 500 feet of frontage on the creek as well as wetlands and upland habitat. It is a concentration area for waterfowl and raptors, as well.
We are very excited to help conserve a place for wildlife in this rapidly growing part of the county, said Mark Anderson, a member of Whatcom Land Trust's board of directors who helped facilitate the donation. According to Mark, Conservation of wetland habitats like the Harrison property is probably the highest and best use of the land.
Jo Anne Harrison and her three daughters, Brenda, Lou Anne and Lorali agreed. We never wanted to see that property developed, said Jo Anne. The pond attracts hundreds of birds and ducks each year. Thanks to the Land Trust the wetland will be protected forever.
The property will be called the J. Arley Harrison Memorial Wildlife Refuge. To protect the sensitive nature of the wetland, public access will not be allowed. The Land Trust will maintain the property exclusively for wildlife habitat and open space.
Whatcom Land Trust is a local, nonprofit nature conservation organization founded in 1984. Its mission is to help people preserve and protect wildlife habitat, scenic, agricultural, and open space lands in Whatcom County. Whatcom Land Trust presently protects over 5,600 acres of land in Whatcom County through donated conservation easements, gifts of land, and collaboration with local governments and corporations.