Islands Sounder Letters to the Editor | Aug. 27

Music in the Park Aug. 17

We are so fortunate on Orcas Island to have talented musicians, such as Martin Lund gathers together, to give us concerts like the one on Sunday the 17th. And, in this case, for free.

I’ve been to many outdoor performances and our lovely stage on the green is so comfortable and picturesque. I’d like to see the community encourage and support this venue – we could draw more talent and more visitors to Orcas.

Thank you, Martin, for an especially great one – and to Leslie Seaman for her vision.

Linda Abbott


Tansy no pansy

We are coming to the end of the tansy ragwort season. Both Public Works personnel and private landowners have made some strong progress in controlling this toxic and invasive weed. Over the years, tansy ragwort has been the cause of more livestock deaths in San Juan County than any other weed, so everybody’s hard work is greatly appreciated.

Tansy is best controlled by pulling the entire plant out of the ground, otherwise it will reflower. It is critical to remove the flower heads before discarding the rest of the plant. These heads should be bagged and taken to the Solid Waste facility, where they may be disposed of at no charge. If the heads are left on the plant, the seeds will mature and re-infect the area which is being cleared. This is especially important along roadsides where the flower heads and developing seeds can be picked up by tires and dispersed over great distances. For information on other methods of control for this and other noxious weeds, call the San Juan County Noxious Weed Control Program office at 376-3499.

Because of its threat to livestock, every effort needs to be made to keep this plant from spreading into pastures and hayfields or once there, to find and eradicate it. While horses and cattle will usually avoid the plant while it is green, they cannot distinguish the dried plant from the rest of the hay. The effects of the toxin are cumulative and cause irreversible liver damage and, ultimately, the death of the animal. 

From the number of dead tansies that we are seeing along the county’s roadsides it is obvious that a lot of people have been active in the tansy ragwort control effort. Many thanks to all of you! 

Richard Lee

SJC Noxious Weed Control Program


Print the minutes

At a time when families are struggling with increased food and energy costs and forced to tighten their own budgets, the OISD could take a lesson in budgetary restraint. But instead our District would prefer to pass a 500 percent levy increase (from $.49 to $2.50). Historically, the community has been supportive but their support may wane if the District doesn’t take a more fiscally responsible position.

And despite repeated requests to the Administrative Office and board members, the minutes for board meetings have not been posted for nearly a year. Hopefully this omission can be remedied immediately.

Janet Knowles




medical services on Orcas

Thank you for publishing Jessica Giasullo’s well-researched article on Emergency Medical Service on Orcas Island.

I confess I had no idea how extensive a program we have at our service, and the extent of training and education the providers must undergo. All of us owe the many volunteers and paid staff a huge debt of gratitude for their skills, strengths and dedication to our health and safety. I know that the next time I see an aid car on an emergency run, my response will be informed by the knowledge of just how much time and talent goes into that call. I would welcome a series of articles on those agencies which are devoted to maintaining the quality of life on Orcas.

Francis Racey

Deer Harbor

Salal berries for wine

The home fermenter who wishes to experiment will be greatly rewarded for their efforts in using the humble forest berry from the “salal” bush. A member of the blueberry family, the salal bush produces dark blue berries that have a mildly fuzzy coating of stiff little hairs. The plants produce berries in a variety of sizes, and so one must search out the berries that are at least a half an inch in diameter.

My research tells me that the use of the salal berry had been outlawed in the early 1900’s because of political pressure from wealthy established vineyard owners who were afraid of competition from a lowly forest berry with no pedigree. It said that the red wine from the salal berry equaled the palette of the finest red wines on the market at the time and was seen as a genuine threat to the vineyard owners, not to mention the importers of fine European wines. What use would it all be if a superior wine was available from the humble forest berry? And with the addition of a bit of elderberry and Oregon grape to add a bit of extra flavor.

Dave Dunlap

Dolphin Bay

CAO Clarification

While the Critical Areas Ordinance Review Committee voted to recommend county-wide application of new groundwater regulations, we did not mean to imply that the committee members unanimously supported a countywide Critical Aquifer Recharge Area Designation. As discussed in the article, some members were concerned that there might be unintended consequences associated with this label.

As also mentioned in the article, the County Council would retain the authority to change these regulations after they are enacted. Currently that type of change can be made once each year.

Shireene Hale

San Juan County

Senior Planner

Adios Rosario

Although it is a little late to decry the auction of Rosario, it is a done deal and will happen on September 30, and the fate of one of our island’s major claims to fame is out of our hands.

As a long-time employer, Rosario’s potential shut down will impact everyone on the island as jobs disappear, affecting local merchants and possibly the school population as well. In addition, as a homeowner in Rosario, I wonder about property values.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and perhaps the outcome would have been the same, regardless, but the years spent in hassling over a master plan to improve the property surely didn’t help the current situation.

Who knows? Next year at this time we might be heralding a spiffed-up resort, and heaving a sigh of relief.

I hope so.

Elsie McFarland


Thanks for this year’s Library Fair

On behalf of the Orcas Island Library, we want to express our appreciation for another hugely successful Library Fair. Thanks are due to the Friends of the Orcas Library Fair Committee (please note the members of the committee at the Friends of the Library link on our website at, as well as to the army of tireless volunteers who made it all happen, and to the entire community for its enthusiastic support.

Proceeds from the fair enable the Friends to support the Library in offering a broader and richer array of services and resources than would otherwise be possible. A recent few of the many examples include: free books for kids for Halloween and our Summer Reading Program, purchase of books and music CDs, a DVD resurfacing machine, new heat pumps, talks by regional authors, and Crossroads Lecture Series sponsorship.

We are deeply grateful to the Friends, other volunteers, Farmers Market and other vendors, and to all who support us with their attendance.

Phil Heikkinen,

Director, Orcas Island Library

Judith Miller,

President, Board of Trustees

Fralick thanks community

The primary election for the County Council-Orcas West position has concluded. I want to thank the candidates, citizens, friends and the media who have participated with me in this process. I would like to thank the members of my campaign team and especially my wife for their support and sacrifice during the campaign. Without them it would not have been as much fun.

It is humbling to run for public office. It is particularly interesting in a small community where almost everyone is a neighbor and knows the candidates on a personal level. In this environment asking friends to vote for one candidate over another can sometimes be awkward.

During the whole process I have found the community to be thoughtful, kind and respectful. I continue to be impressed by the level of involvement and passion amongst the citizens regarding the critical issues that the county must deal with over the next few years.

As we move onto the general election this fall, I ask that you remain engaged in the process. I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts and vision for the future of San Juan County.


Richard Fralick

Deer Harbor


of the people

Being that I am an immigrant to this country I’d like to share what I feel goes on elsewhere in the world.

In my country at the age of 16 everyone was required to register with the local precinct in order to be fingerprinted and photographed. Should you at any time decide to relocate, you must first obtain a transfer and ask permission. Upon arrival at the new location you must register with the precinct in that location.

Point being: control over people. Now I still have this I.D.; why?

To remind myself how fortunate I am to be in this great and wonderful country and to have the freedom to move and most of all to be able to express myself. If you are like me, you can understand. If you are second or third generation, remember your forefathers came here for this very reason!

Recently I have become aware that as a whole our voices are getting lost. Driven by fear, along with intimidation, county projects are brought forth without prior inquiries as to the actual needs of the community as a whole.

Do we really want to accept this concept? Decisions made for us even though we raise objections!

This beautiful, proud nation belongs to us all and our voices must be heard. Remember the preamble to our nation starts with: “We the People…”

Karla Rieg

Deer Harbor