Letters | August 26

Extreme property rights and your water

A well-organized local group is against proposed restrictions on property development that would protect our streams, lakes, wetlands, and near shore waters.

If these property rights activists prevail, your groundwater and mine could be threatened with contamination. For example, San Juan County code requires a 100-foot buffer between your well and any septic system drainfield. If property rightists win complete control over their property, a neighbor could place a septic system as close to your well as they liked, as long as the septic system was on their property. You may think that your well draws from an isolated aquifer that is contained by your property lines, but the world is not divided into such neat compartments.

A well-functioning septic system deals with harmful bacteria from human waste very effectively, but a malfunctioning septic system can contaminate your groundwater and our shared waters. Like a good septic system, buffers of native plants protect our shared waters. The layer of humus that builds up under native plants acts like a sponge to absorb rainwater and any contaminates it carries. The absorbed water is released slowly enough that most of it can travel down into the soil and not run off into our lakes, streams, and near shore waters. In the soil and in the humus layer, contaminants can be broken down by friendly microbes. Thus the buffer of native plants protects our shared waters.

Since a 100-foot buffer is required by the Health Department between any well and septic system drainfield, why shouldn’t a minimum 100-foot buffer be required between our above ground waters and any development? Many people use pesticides, fertilizers, and household products that are harmful to our shared waters. Education can help, but we need buffers for insurance.

Janet Alderton

Deer Harbor

Thank you to North Shore Charters

The boys and girls of the Orcas Fishing Crew wish to thank Marty Mead, owner of North Shore Charters, for his generous donation of an amazing day of fishing, crabbing and learning at sea! We set off from the Deer Harbor Marina dock on Aug. 5 and the weather couldn’t have been better, the boat ride and fishing were first rate and the kids will remember it always. We highly recommend Marty for a Captain of the Year award.

Marty took two excited groups of boys and girls out for three hours with each group and taught them not only fishing and crabbing skills, but also about navigation and boating techniques. This was an amazing opportunity and it felt like true island life for these Orcas kids!

We would also like to give a big round of applause for Tim Abeyti who has been the best fishing guide a kid could ask for. He has volunteered weekly to accompany the fishing crew to Cascade Lake and also with the North Shore Charter trip. Teaching six or seven kids at the same time how to rig up a pole is no easy task!  We thank you Tim! (He even has secrets to share re: bait.)

We truly appreciate The Funhouse for the strong support for the fishing crew they have shown and inspired the kids with. The Fishing Crew would not be possible without Pete and his caring staff.

Also, we thank Eastsound Sporting Goods for their support and also the good wishes and fishing pole donation from Officer Steve.

We, the Fishing Crew, thank all of our supporters and parents for the great opportunities we have enjoyed in our quest for this great American hobby.

Thank you all – Cody, Angel, Nick L, Nick H, Danny, Elijah, Freeman, Kevin, Imani, Douglas, Graye, Grant, Shannon, Sequoyah, Cherea, Christy, and Cameron.

If you are interested in joining the Fishing Crew call 376-1450 or for a great Captain and day at sea call Marty at 376-4855.

Wendy Smith


OPAL and Kaleidoscope auction dinners

We have a dilemma. Like many of you, we support both OPAL and Kaleidoscope and we look forward to both auction dinners each fall. But this year we have to choose because the two events were inadvertently scheduled for the same night.

For us, the solution is pretty obvious because one of us (Helen) is on the OPAL board and the other (Cris) is on the Kaleidoscope board, so we will naturally attend the event for “our” organization. But we both wish we could be in two places at once. To balance the scales at least a bit, we will each also send a donation in lieu of attending the other dinner.

If you are in the same boat, we hope you will also find a way to support both groups. OPAL and Kaleidoscope (along with many other non-profits) are essential ingredients for our lives here on Orcas. For our community to be “healthy,” we need to provide stability and support for a diversity of people, including young families and working folks of many ages. A community entirely made up of well-to-do retired folks (like us!) cannot sustain itself. We need the families whose children are cared for at Kaleidoscope (or Children’s House); we need the many folks who live in OPAL’s affordable houses.

So join us in supporting both groups. Attend the Kaleidoscope “Island Grown, Island Raised” dinner or the OPAL “Soirée by the Sea” on Sept.12, and send a check to the one you don’t attend. We promise you good food, fun, and the pleasure of knowing you are supporting the island community in an important way.

Helen Bee

Cris Chandler

Orcas Island

Restoration project complete

During the summer of 2006, while negotiating to purchase our Shoal Bay beach front property on Lopez Island, we just knew that an old derelict concrete shuffleboard with adjacent creosote soldier piling on the sand and pebble beach were not only eye sores, but also inappropriate beach structures.

After contacting Friends of the San Juans, who coincidentally were planning on contacting us, a two-year process of studies, permitting, and granting ensued with the eventual removal of the structures late last year during a period of low environmental impact.  

This summer, on July 31, during a six-foot high tide and with a half moon glowing, we witnessed an amazing event! At approximately 9:30 p.m., as we were strolling along our normally tranquil shoreline, to our surprise and excitement, all of the effort involved with this beach restoration project came to fruition. The tranquility was interrupted when we heard the sound of splashing, as the surf smelt returned to spawn, now having the use of the additional restored beach. As they were spawning, two salmon were also observed foraging on the surf smelt, which is all part of this remarkable marine life cycle.

We have such a feeling of fulfillment and gratification. Thank you to Friends of the San Juans and all of the other agencies, professionals and grantors involved.

Gary and Patty Bergren

Shoal Bay

Lopez Island

The system really works

We are very fortunate that we have such a great medical evacuation system in place.

I enjoyed a great full day of work, but by the evening I was not feeling too well. Within a couple of days I was one miserable puppy. We called the Medical Center, they had me in instantly, took an X-ray, and Dr. Frazer and Dr. Giefer determined I needed a CAT Scan.

One call and a mercy pilot was ready to go. By the time my wife and I picked up a couple of things, we met Dwight Guss at the airport, flew to Bellingham and Saint Joseph’s Hospital Emergency reception. They were waiting for me. Within minutes the CAT Scan was completed and I was counseled by Dr. Zibulewsky, the head of the Emergency Department, that I required surgery for a tumor.

That was Thursday afternoon. I was settled into a private room and given some pain relief. I had surgery the first thing Saturday morning then spent the next week in recovery until everything started functioning normally. Saint Joseph is a superb hospital and rated amongst the top 100 in the U.S. My surgeon, Dr. Lohse, was the best, the nurses and aides were terrific, and I couldn’t have asked for better care. Even checkout was simple.

If you have to go through something like this, and I don’t wish that on anyone, I want to assure you that we have highly qualified doctors and nurses at the Medical Center and a great Mercy Flight transportation system immediately available to get you to the appropriate hospital if required or MedFlight evacuation if necessary. It’s a system that really works because it is independent, handled by friends, neighbors and a community who know the value of taking care of each other – totally free of any government-run bureaucracy.

Thanks to those who assisted when I needed it and thanks to all who make this such a wonderful community. P.S. The hospital was excellent, but boy is it good to be home.

Robert L. Waunch

Orcas Island

Photographers: we called and you responded

Thanks to all who entered such wonderful photographs at the County Fair. The Photography Exhibit was a great success this year. People were talking all over the islands. The quality of the images was very high, and everyone who came by enjoyed the show immensely.

The “competitive” section was also a hit, with 50 photographers submitting 120 images. Such wonderful images that our judges had a hard time selecting blue and red ribbons. The quality was so high that they gave out a number of Honorable Mention ribbons to acknowledge the good work.

The images in the “open” section were equally outstanding. As I walked the exhibit during the week, I realized that there were pictures that should have received a ribbon but didn’t. I apologize for that and next year we will make changes to the judging process to be sure that everyone who deserves a ribbon gets one.

Start thinking about your entry for 2010. We look forward to hanging it.

Bob Stavers

Supervisor, Photography Department

San Juan County Fair

Response to health care reform letter

I am curious about some of the opinions expressed in The Sounder last week about health care. Some think the best way to improve health care and reduce costs is to have government health care. Many Canadians flee their country to come to our country for health care. I don’t see any Americans going to Canada for health care. Presently all people in America by law have access to health care even if you are not a citizen. You cannot be refused.

There are some things we could do to improve our system: tort reform, a tax credit for your health insurance costs, and stop the restriction on purchasing health insurance across state lines. I think these three changes would do more to improve our health care system than to have a giant government system. Just look at SSI and Medicare. Enough said.

Jake Jacobus


Update on monkey puzzle tree

We finally have found out what is causing the decline of our beloved monkey puzzle tree on North Beach Road. Unfortunately, it has been a process with many delays because few arborists know about it and my usual sources of information did not mention it.

The causative pathogen is the fungus, Botryosphaeria rhodina, a wilt disease that plugs up the water transporting vessels, preventing water from reaching the leaves. It can remain dormant until drought stresses its host. It has infected several trees in the region, even causing their deaths.

Even before learning this, I deeply watered the root area (most of which is beyond the gabezo).

There is no known fungacide that we can be sure will kill this fungus, but some will cause it to become dormant again and remain so as long as the tree is no longer stressed by other causes. The limbs and leaves that have died cannot be regenerated but possibly new growth can replace some of them. The San Juan Pest Control Co. will be here on Aug. 26 to inject the fungacide into the trunk and a bio-stimulant into the root zone.

We cannot be sure that the tree can be saved, but we will have done our best physically. We all can help it by, with a calm mind and loving heart, visualizing it as healthy and surrounded with healing light. There is much scientific evidence that this application of higher law can be effective. But there might be other factors operating for higher purposes on subtle planes of which we are not aware.

Herlwyn Lutz

Consulting Arborist

Orcas Island

Thank you from the Howard family

We are so very blessed to live on Orcas. We can’t express enough the heartfelt gratitude, the overwhelming support and generosity by our friends, neighbors and the community. Whether it was working or donating at the car wash to a simple prayer, all have been greatly appreciated.

Teresa (Tari) is doing well and is improving daily. She will have therapy over the next few weeks and hopes to get back to work very soon. The doctors at Harborview Medical Center have been awesome. They wanted Tari to spend an extra week at the hospital for rehab work, but she just wanted to return to the comforts of home here on Orcas. Although it may take some time for her to reacclimatize, she is hoping that her recovery will be short and she gets back into working with the community through Dr. Triplett’s office.

Having our daughter Jessica back has been a blessing. Our good friend Steve Kinne has been a rock, reassuring and supporting not only Gary but gave Tari such a secure feeling that everything would be okay. He is truly what anyone could describe as a friend (even part of our family).

Expressing our thank you to the community doesn’t seem to be quite enough. There are so many people we’d like to thank, we may not name all and we apologize if we miss yours. We would like to start by sending out a very special thank you to Frank and Lori Gates and Lori’s friend Liz for heading up the fund raising drive and the car wash. It was deeply appreciated. Thank you to the guys at Orcas Excavators for donating some of their vacation time along with their family’s time to work the car wash, Theron and Dave at the Country Corner for allowing the business to collect necessary funds to help us out financially, and Eros Bellevieu and Terri Nigretto for taking care of our dog. The list can go on and on. It is hard to express how important everyone has been in our lives at this time. Our hearts go out to the Weinel and Baker families.

Again we appreciate your continued support and prayers. God bless you all.

Gary and Tari Howard

Orcas Island

Check out upcoming film and live music

Many of you locals know me as one of the guys at Island Hardware. Long-time islanders will remember me as the guy who had that cool video store,”Cinema Paradiso,” the one where you could ask, “which film should I see?” Most of my customers appreciated my taste, and my ability to learn their taste, and recommend films that would suit them. I still get asked about movies nearly every day. My other passion is music. So, let me recommend a film, and some music for you this week. I have the good fortune of having two friends visiting this weekend, who posses a remarkable set of talents. If you enjoy beautiful harmonies, and heartfelt lyrics, delivered by two of the finest voices in the music industry, than by all means, join me at The Grange, Friday, August 28 at 8 p.m. for the advance screening of the documentary film “Why Isn’t Chris von Sneidern Famous?” This film is the work of independent filmmaker Kathleen McNamara, and is set to have its official premiere at this year’s San Francisco Film Festival. Chris will be there to answer questions and to play a short acoustic set after the screening. The next evening, August 29, Jon Auer of The Posies, and Big Star, will be appearing along with Chris von Sneidern at The Ecotopian in Eastsound. Jon is an amazingly talented performer in his own right, with a musical pedigree that reads like a who’s who of the music industry. I know from past experience just how brilliant these events will be, I hope you will take the time to join us. You will not be disappointed.

Gary Bauder

Orcas Island