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  • Power Past Coal rally at FRIENDS' 2012 annual meeting
  • MacKaye Harbor Community Beach Day
  • Exploring Spencer Spit on Lopez Island
  • Volunteers welcome canoes at the 2011 Canoe Journey
  • School kids on Shaw Island

FRIENDS of the San Juans

With a growing list of human pressures impacting the islands, the stakes have never been higher for preserving the San Juans. FRIENDS is working towards clean water and healthy shorelines for fish and wildlife, safe shipping and oil spill prevention, and a livable community.

aFRIENDS has a busy year on the horizon providing shoreline property owners with free technical assistance for managing their beaches and bluffs; developing neighborhood shoreline conservation easement tools; conducting research on sea level rise, cumulative impacts and forage fish; designing shoreline restoration projects; monitoring tsunami debris; commenting on the proposed coal terminal in Whatcom County; and participating in the Critical Areas Ordinance and Shoreline Master Program updates.

FRIENDS will continue to provide the community with information about these and other emerging issues. There’s never been a better time to get involved or to make a special donation to protect and preserve the livability of the islands for future generations.


Good news for Surf Smelt!

Photo of Surf Smelt by Gayle Van Ler

FRIENDS recently won an appeal to protect a smelt spawning beach from the construction of an unnecessary bulkhead. Surf smelt and other forage fish serve as a critical link in the marine food web and provide food for salmon, seabirds and minke whales.

In addition, we recently secured state salmon recovery funding to help a private landowner restore a pocket beach on Orcas Island. Located within a priority surf smelt spawning region of the county, the project will remove extensive creosote wood and rock from over 200 linear feet of beach and bank. Final designs are in progress and implementation is planned for late summer 2015.


The Salish Sea: In Danger Infographic

Check out our infographic! Learn about the interconnectivity of the Salish Sea and how increased shipping traffic from fossil fuel export and a major spill could devastate our environment and our economy. And please help us spread the information far and wide! MORE INFO>>



Free Creosote Removal Program

Are you a waterfront landowner in San Juan County? Are your tidelands home to a variety of old, derelict creosote-treated pilings or structures? Would you like to see these relics from the past removed from your property?

If so, you can now get help to remove these toxic structures from your tidelands, thanks to a partnership between FRIENDS and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This program is voluntary and free to property owners
For more information contact Tina Whitman (FRIENDS), 360-378-2319 or Chris Robertson (DNR), 360-854-2808.

Check out DNR's creosote flyer for more information.

FRIENDS Leads Blakely Island Habitat Restoration Effort

FRIENDS recently spearheaded the intertidal restoration of a documented surf smelt spawning beach along Blakely Island’s Thatcher Bay. The project uncovered 5,300 square feet of habitat that had been buried under rock and fill for over 60 years, and then replenished it with a combination of pea gravel and sand. This sandy “fish mix” is where surf smelt spawn along the uppermost portions of the beach. Read the press release for more information.

Before - No longer needed to support forestry operations, this log handling facility and 110 dump truck loads of rock and associated fill was removed.

After - 5,300 square feet of intertidal beach was unburied, which opened up critical shoreline habitat for forage fish at a known surf smelt spawning site.


Thank you to everyone who "GaveBIG" to FRIENDS on May 5th!

We raised $24,975 to support our work that protects and restores the Salish Sea for people and nature. We know you had a lot of great non-profits to choose from and we so appreciate your support of FRIENDS. We sure do have a great community!


San Juan County Students are Saving Energy!

The Cool School Challenge team at Lopez Elementary.

FRIENDS is excited to be working with the San Juan Islands Conservation District, Islands Energy and OPALCO on the Cool School Challenge (CSC).  The CSC engages students in reducing energy and carbon dioxide emissions school-wide. 

Lorri Swanson’s 4th grade science class at Lopez Elementary determined that if all classrooms in their district take simple actions like turning off a bank of lights during the day, powerstripping energy vampires, turning the heat down a couple of degrees and double-siding all assignments, they could reduce their energy use by 48,600 kilowatt hours and save $6,600 every school year!   

Stay tuned for results from additional schools.  Contact Katie at katie@sanjuans.org or 360-378-2319 if you know a San Juan County school who is interested in participating.


Look for Drift Cards on Local Beaches

LUSH Seattle employees volunteered with FRIENDS on August 27 to do the latest drift card drop.

FRIENDS launched “this could be oil” wooden drift cards in the Salish Sea in August to simulate where an oil spill originating in the shipping lanes surrounding the San Juan Islands might end up. 

Information from the drift card study will help researchers calculate where oil from a spill might end up over what length of time and along what route. The results of the study will help communities allocate resources most efficiently to prepare for a spill. 

FRIENDS will also use the drift card data as we prepare comments related to safety, risks and economic issues to the National Energy Board regarding the Kinder Morgan proposal. 

For more information, to see study results, or to report a drift card, please visit www.salishseaspillmap.org. And if you find a card, take a selfie and share it with us!

Click here to read an article about the study in the San Juan Journal (October 29, 2014)

Click here to see a video of the Rosario Strait drift card drop from March 2014.

Listen to the a story from Free Speech Radio News.



Volunteers Help FRIENDS Get Some Great Work Done on Sucia Island!

30 volunteers participated in a work party with FRIENDS on Sucia Island in September. They did an awesome job! 1 mile of beach was cleaned of litter; rock was removed from 1,500 square feet of smelt spawning habitat; and 5 surf smelt egg surveys were competed. Thank you to all the volunteers (including our friends from LUSH Seattle stores)!


FRIENDS, DNR and the Tulalip Tribes Remove Toxic Creosote from Barlow Bay

FRIENDS of the San Juans partnered with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Tulalip Tribes to remove creosote pilings and a pier in Barlow Bay off of Lopez Island.  This project improves water quality, eelgrass growing conditions, and upper beach habitat at a documented Pacific sand lance spawning site.

Twenty-six in-water creosote pilings and approximately 1,200 square feet of remaining overwater structure (pier decking) was removed from Barlow Bay.  In addition, 200 square feet of upper beach habitat were unburied by removing rock and fill, as well other debris including concrete, creosote and tires.

Read the press release for more information.









Check out our Facebook page for recent updates and news!


Become a member!

Attend our 2015 events - Click here for more details.

Attend The Years of Living Dangerously Film Series & Community Conversation: Orcas - every Thurs., May 14 through June 11 at 6:30 pm at Orcas Island Library. Click here for more info.

Sign the Save the Salish Sea pledge. You’ll be adding your voice to the growing community of Salish Sea champions who are taking action to stop new fossil fuel projects. Click here to sign today.

Stand with the Lummi Nation. On Jan 5, The Lummi's formally requested that the US Army Corps of Engineers deny a permit to build the Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal because the impacts to tribal fishing cannot be mitigated. Show your support of their efforts to keep dirty, dangerous coal exports out of our waters. Click here to write your legislators today and ask them to support the protection of the Lummi Nation’s treaty rights.


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PO Box 1344, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 Phone: (360) 378-2319, Fax: (360) 378-2324 © 2013