Participate in the Conservation District Board elections


As many of you know, I work for the San Juan Islands Conservation District (SJCD). The SJCD does vital work around the county preserving natural resources, supporting agriculture by writing farm plans for farmers free of charge, and a whole host of other educational activities. It does this with $5 per year per parcel from property taxes and the rest is made up from state and federal grants. I believe that it’s the best value for money in our county.

The district is supervised by a volunteer board of supervisors, this is done by a monthly board meeting of about two or three hours. Supervisors are encouraged occasionally to travel to in-state conferences and their expenses are reimbursed. The board sets the overall agenda and then the manager sets priorities and tasks appropriately.

Every year one of the board positions is up for re-election. There are also two positions that are appointed by the Washington State Conservation Commission. This year one elected position is up (as usual) and the appointed position is available, as sadly, Thom Pence (a forester) is moving out of state.

If you care about the trends of conservation and the environment in San Juan County I urge you to do one of two things:

• Run for the appointed position.

• Vote in the election for a new board member you best feel suited to the task.

In both cases the commitment is not onerous – two to three hours per month, one board summit per year plus one potential trip off island. The opportunity to influence the direction of work – is as they say – priceless.

To vote you need to be a registered voter in San Juan County. Email, write or call the district office by March 12 and request a ballot form be sent to your registered voter address. The address is San Juan Islands Conservation District, 350 Court Street #10, Friday Harbor WA 98245 or email

Ballots will be mailed to you on March 13 and 14. Ballots must then be returned postmarked by March 26.

If you apply for the appointed position you should have a strong interest in conservation/environmentalism and preferably some suitable skills and/or qualifications and a passion to protect our islands.

Sadly, we only have 145 voters registered in total – that is about one percent of the population. Most years the incumbent wins with about 55 votes, while many are unchallenged. The ultimate goal in a democracy is to get the utmost public participation, and we obviously do not get that.

Please consider voting and/or applying for an appointed position on the board.

Personally I am going to vote for Shannon Hoffman, who is seeking the elected position. Shannon is a mother of two who has made her home on Lopez. She works for San Juan County as a Stormwater Technician at Community Development and Planning (on loan from Public Works), and has the right background to give valuable input to the district. She has a pleasant, but straightforward, manner that gets to the heart of the manner quickly and effectively. She has already worked with the District on many joint projects.

She is an active member in the community, is on the board of local environmental company KWIAHT and is very involved in affordable housing on Lopez.

You can find the other candidates’ details from our district manager. If you wish to apply for the appointed position please contact our office for more details, but do take part in the process!

Steve Hussey is a Deer Harbor resident. He is a Natural Resources Planner with the San Juan Islands Conservation District. The district is not a county agency, but is responsible to the Washington State Conservation Commission for protecting the natural resources of our county under the supervision of a board of volunteer local supervisors.