San Juan County prioritizes Stewardship of the Islands with new department

Submitted by San Juan County.

The San Juan County Council voted unanimously to elevate the Environmental Resources Division to an independent County Department earlier this year. The County has been investing in the environment for a long time, making great strides in the last five years with strong County Council support in areas such as clean water and protecting Southern Resident killer whales.

The professional team of scientists, engineers and educators within the Department have accelerated the scope and scale of the environmental work for the benefit of the community, spurring the change. The diversity of programs and funding sources – clean water, solid waste, marine, cultural resources, and climate & sustainability – also warranted an upgrade from a division to department.

The expansion has allowed for the creation of two new positions, bringing a greater focus on sustainability and climate action within the County. The formation of a new Climate and Sustainability Advisory Committee, currently in progress, will add to the variety of environmental advisory committees encompassing the Department’s program areas. The Department is also spearheading efforts to integrate cultural resources more thoroughly into the County’s work.

Environmental Stewardship was selected as the name by the Department’s team because it reflects both their commitment to the environment and their work to encourage all to be stewards of the San Juan Islands and beyond. New outreach strategies are also being implemented to increase citizen engagement and awareness around local stewardship. If you’d like to learn more, visit