County government and agencies are working together to ensure that the environment of the county’s islands and waters is protected. On April 19, on Lopez Island, a “Conservation Summit” will show all islanders what is happening to their environment, what has been done to protect it, and what they can do to be a part of local efforts to preserve the environment.
The Conservation Summit is presented by the Stewardship Network of the San Juans. The network includes staff and volunteers involved in issues such as bottomfish recovery, salmon restoration, oil spill prevention and response, and building a sustainable business network. Their website is www.stewardshipsjc.org.
Orcas Islander Jeff Hanson has been hired as San Juan County Ecosystems Education Coordinator, a grant-funded position. As coordinator, he works with four “bosses”: Mary Knackstedt at Marine Resources Committee (MRC); Barbara Rosenkotter, the lead entity for Salmon Restoration; Amy Windrope of the San Juan Initiative; and Shireene Hale, County Planner for the Critical Areas Ordinance.
Hanson has created the Marine Stewardship website newsletter at www.sjcmrc.org/newsletter/Site/Home.html. In it, he writes: “Our community has been moving towards a healthy and sustainable future for fish, wildlife and people in the Marine Stewardship Area through work of the Critical Areas Ordinance Update, the Marine Resources Committee, Salmon Recovery Program and the San Juan Initiative. These four groups are working in collaboration with each other – and with the community – to effectively steward the natural resources of San Juan County by protecting what is pristine, restoring what is damaged and creating sound management practices to minimize human impacts. For this vision to succeed, every resident, visitor and business owner must be involved.”
The Stewardship Network Steering Committee states that its mission is “to promote a stewardship ethic in the San Juan Islands. Good stewards are caretakers of the natural world … a stewardship ethic … reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the ecosystem.”
It is hoped that, through the Conservation Summit and the newsletter, the public will join the network and become involved in its work. Kit Rawson, MRC committee chair, has said, “San Juan County continues to lead the region in protecting the marine environment. The success of our work depends on the many partner organizations and individual citizens who will be participating with us in … our projects.”
David Dicks, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership, will provide the keynote address.
The “Good Steward” Award Winners for 2008 will be acknowledged at the Conservation Summit. The award trophies, or “Finnies,” will be a ceramic salmon, created by Crow Valley potters Michael Rivkin and Jeffri Coleman. There is still time to nominate an island steward and recognize individuals, families, and businesses that have made a significant impact on the conservation, preservation, and protection of the San Juan Archipelago. Contact Kathleen Foley at (360) 378-2461 for nomination information; nomination forms and selection criteria can be found at www.StewardshipSJC.org or at www.co.san-juan.wa.us/land_bank.
Children ages 5 to 12 can be enrolled in a “Kid’s Camp” (an environmental learning opportunity) during the morning speaker session. The “Kid’s Camp” is organized by Fiona Norris of the San Juan Nature Institute.
A locally grown lunch will be provided by Vortex and local farmers.
In the afternoon, field trips are planned to the following sites:
• Watmough Bight/Chadwick Hill Hike: Visit one of Lopez’s jewels with a trip to stunning Watmough Bight or Chadwick Hill.
• Sea Kayaking on Fisherman Bay: Enjoy watching seabirds and revel in the serenity of a two-hour kayak trip on quiet Fisherman Bay.
• Wildflower Walk on Iceberg Point: Join the San Juan Preservation Trust on a ramble over private and public lands on Lopez’s stunning Iceberg Point. April is prime wildflower time on these windswept headlands; come learn new species or visit old favorites.
• “Treasure for Trash” Weeks Wetland/Lopez Village Service Trip: Celebrate Earth Day by giving back. Help clean up Weeks Wetland and Lopez Village and you may find a hidden treasure to boot!
Registration fees are: Adults $15, Kids 12 and under $5. Registration covers the Summit meeting, field trips (except kayaking which has an additional fee), transportation, and lunch, as well as the Kid’s Camp for those registering.
The Conservation Summit takes place at Lopez Center and field trip sites from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register, go to www.stewardshipsjc.org/summit or call 378-4402.
Future events by the Stewardship Network include May 17 “San Juan County/Lead Entity Day” in Deer Harbor, part of a statewide event to bring attention to salmon recovery efforts around the state, and in particular, the Deer Harbor estuary project.
Call (360) 378-4402 or visit www.StewardshipSJC.org for more details.