Memorial Park elm trees being pruned on Monday

Posted November 19, 2022 at 4:24 pm by

The Town shares an update about the sta­tus of the Dutch elms at the foot of Spring St.

Pro­fes­sion­al prun­ing of the Memo­r­i­al Park elms is sched­uled for Mon­day, Nov. 21, weath­er per­mit­ting. Res­i­dents are asked to avoid the area to reduce the effect of traf­fic dis­rup­tion. Traf­fic will also be affect­ed by hol­i­day light­ing instal­la­tion sched­uled for Tues­day, Nov. 29.

The Town was advised to fur­ther prune the trees after a risk assess­ment was com­plet­ed by Seat­tle-based Tree Solu­tions, Inc. The com­pa­ny spe­cial­izes in urban for­est man­age­ment and advis­es munic­i­pal­i­ties through­out West­ern Wash­ing­ton on the safe­ty of street trees. Prun­ing will be com­plet­ed by local arborist Gustafson Tree Care.

The Town has been work­ing to mit­i­gate dam­age to the 100-year-old Dutch elms since a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of one tree broke off this spring.

“We plan to open the park for the hol­i­day sea­son once we feel assured the public’s safe­ty is not at risk,” says Town Admin­is­tra­tor Denice Kulseth.

The two elms were plant­ed in May 1922 by the Women’s Study Club as a memo­r­i­al to those lost in World War I — one rep­re­sent­ing Army loss­es, one rep­re­sent­ing Navy losses.

Ques­tions regard­ing the elms may be direct­ed to the Town Admin­is­tra­tor..

Severe weather shelter needs volunteers

Posted November 19, 2022 at 2:46 pm by

Unit­ed Way of San Juan Coun­ty sends along a request for help from the community.

We are des­per­ate­ly look­ing for vol­un­teers to help staff the Unit­ed Way cold weath­er shel­ter in Fri­day Har­bor. The shel­ter is only open when the tem­per­a­ture drops below 34 degrees and is only for the night. It is a low-time-demand way to serve the community.

To learn more, call Allan Smith at 360–939-1055 or Jill Berg­er at 360–317-6539.

WSF working to expand supply of licensed deck officers

Posted November 19, 2022 at 12:35 pm by

In their week­ly update to the pub­lic, Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries shared news about the effects of improve­ments made to their train­ing programs.

While it remains impor­tant to con­tin­ue hir­ing new crewmem­bers as Wash­ing­ton State Fer­ries looks to the future, our biggest short-term con­straint con­tin­ues to be a lack of licensed deck offi­cers — cap­tains and mates — who require sig­nif­i­cant train­ing time.

Ear­li­er this year, we cre­at­ed two new pro­grams that encour­age our cur­rent employ­ees to take the nec­es­sary cours­es and exams to obtain a mates’ cre­den­tial. Over the next 18 months, we expect more than 40 employ­ees to com­plete all the train­ing and cre­den­tials nec­es­sary to work as mates, which is great for future sys­tem sta­bil­i­ty. We’re seek­ing to make these pro­grams permanent.

In their update, WSF also not­ed that they do not antic­i­pate being able to restore Sid­ney, B.C ser­vice any soon­er than sum­mer 2023.

Foster is the Animal Protection Society’s pet of the week

Posted November 19, 2022 at 11:23 am by

The Ani­mal Pro­tec­tion Soci­ety of Fri­day Har­bor shares a look at the adopt­able ani­mal of the week — Fos­ter, a large year-old mixed breed.

Hi every­one, I’m Fos­ter! Although I’ve only been at the shel­ter for less than a month, the peo­ple at APS-FH have been my friends for a long time — same with many of the Fri­day Har­bor locals, and that’s because I’m a friend­ly guy. One of my all time favorite things is meet­ing new peo­ple, and I make it a point to do just that. Do you know how many nice, fun­ny, joy­ful peo­ple there are on this island? In Wash­ing­ton state? In the whole wide world? Well I don’t know the exact num­ber, but I spend a lot of my time think­ing about how great it would be to meet all of those peo­ple and then before I know it, I’m on my way again — trot­ting off to explore and meet & greet who­ev­er I come across along the way.

A lot of the peo­ple I meet are smil­ing and talk­ing to me in that high, approv­ing pitch of theirs that I like so much. They’re some­times laugh­ing and that makes me laugh; they’re most often smil­ing and that makes me smile. I’m still fig­ur­ing out how to han­dle my excite­ment when I meet such hap­py peo­ple and espe­cial­ly when they’re the ones who car­ry deli­cious treats. It’s just so excit­ing and I get so excit­ed! But I’m learn­ing my man­ners and how to lis­ten; I know that when I find my person(s), we’ll set­tle into a very hap­py rou­tine, and I’ll get to prove what a very good pup I can be.

Learn more about Fos­ter here.

Frank drops in to share his mate’s catch

Posted November 18, 2022 at 11:17 pm by

Friday Harbor and Orcas Island will play for the state soccer championship on Saturday

Posted November 18, 2022 at 10:03 pm by

The boys soc­cer teams from both Fri­day Har­bor High School and Orcas Island High School won their state semi-final games on Fri­day after­noon, set­ting up a Sat­ur­day show­down for the state title. The top-seed­ed Wolver­ines knocked off fourth-seed­ed Saint George’s School of Spokane 2–1 in a shootout just a few hours after the third-seed­ed Vikings beat Mount Ver­non Chris­t­ian 1–0.

Fri­day Har­bor takes on Orcas tomor­row at 3 p.m. at Ren­ton Memo­r­i­al Sta­di­um. The win­ner becomes the 1B/2B state champion.

Sat­ur­day’s game marks the fourth of the sea­son between the two schools. Fri­day Har­bor beat Orcas 2–1 in a neu­tral-site shootout on Nov. 7 to win the bi-dis­trict cham­pi­onship and advance to state. The Wolver­ines also lost to the Vikings 3–2 at home on Oct. 11 and won 1–0 at Orcas on Sept. 20.

DNR ends net pen aquaculture on state-owned aquatic lands

Posted November 18, 2022 at 1:26 pm by

The Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources shares news about a major pol­i­cy change relat­ed to aqua­cul­ture in the state.

Washington’s pub­lic aquat­ic lands will no longer be home to com­mer­cial fin­fish net pen aqua­cul­ture. Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz announced today on Bain­bridge Island an exec­u­tive order that would pro­hib­it com­mer­cial fin­fish net pen aqua­cul­ture on state-owned aquat­ic lands man­aged by her agency, the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources.

“As we’ve seen too clear­ly here in Wash­ing­ton, there is no way to safe­ly farm fin­fish in open sea net pens with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing our strug­gling native salmon. Today, I’m announc­ing an end to the prac­tice. We, as a state, are going to do bet­ter by our salmon, by our fish­er­men, and by our tribes,” said Franz. “Com­mer­cial fin­fish farm­ing is detri­men­tal to salmon, orcas and marine habi­tat. I’m proud to stand with the rest of the west coast today by say­ing our waters are far too impor­tant to risk for fish farm­ing profits.”

Com­mis­sion­er Franz’s order will align Washington’s net pen salmon aqua­cul­ture pol­i­cy with poli­cies already in place in Alas­ka, Cal­i­for­nia, and Oregon.

Com­mis­sion­er Franz was joined in her announce­ment by Chair­man Leonard Fors­man of the Suquamish Tribe and Emma Helver­son, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Wild Fish Conservancy.

“On behalf of the Suquamish peo­ple, I want to thank Com­mis­sion­er Franz for lis­ten­ing to Tribes and oth­ers who place the health of the Sal­ish Sea as their top pri­or­i­ty.” said Fors­man. “End­ing com­mer­cial fin­fish farm­ing in our ances­tral waters is an impor­tant step towards pro­tect­ing marine water qual­i­ty, salmon pop­u­la­tions, and the endan­gered South­ern Res­i­dent Killer Whales. The impacts of com­mer­cial fin­fish farm­ing put all of that at risk, and threat­ened treaty rights and ulti­mate­ly our way of life and cul­ture.” Con­tin­ue Reading

American Camp Visitor Center set to close for the winter

Posted November 18, 2022 at 11:57 am by

If you haven’t yet checked out the new exhibits at the Amer­i­can Camp Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, today and tomor­row will be your last chance until 2023. Cre­at­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with native groups from through­out the region, the cur­rent line­up of exhibits opened in June of this year. The vis­i­tor cen­ter is open until 4 p.m. today and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. tomorrow.

Sunset at Argyle Lagoon

Posted November 17, 2022 at 8:13 pm by

Peace Island Medical Center marks ten-year anniversary

Posted November 17, 2022 at 3:56 pm by

Charlie Anderson and Lenore Bayuk cutting the ribbon to open Peace Island Medical Center in Nov. 2012

Peace­Health shares a detailed update about the ten-year anniver­sary of Peace Island Med­ical Center.

Today, Peace­Health Peace Island Med­ical Cen­ter marks 10 years of serv­ing the health­care needs of the San Juan Island community.

The 2012 open­ing cel­e­bra­tion, attend­ed by hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and Peace­Health care­givers, was the cul­mi­na­tion of a five-year, grass­roots effort by local res­i­dents to bring inte­grat­ed, high-qual­i­ty health­care to the San Juan Islands.

Under the umbrel­la of the San Juan Island Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion, these cit­i­zens formed a hos­pi­tal com­mit­tee and began research­ing poten­tial oper­at­ing part­ners. They ulti­mate­ly chose Peace­Health, impressed by its mis­sion of respect, com­pas­sion and car­ing and depth and breadth of ser­vices. The com­mit­tee iden­ti­fied a 25-acre fam­i­ly home­stead near the air­port. Local res­i­dents gen­er­ous­ly donat­ed $10 mil­lion towards the effort, with Peace­Health con­tribut­ing anoth­er $20 mil­lion. Con­struc­tion start­ed in July 2011; the hos­pi­tal opened on time and on bud­get at 11:17 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2012  — a nod to the street address, 1117 Spring St.

A 10-bed crit­i­cal access hos­pi­tal, Peace Island was built to reflect the cul­ture and val­ues of the island, fea­tur­ing sus­tain­able mate­ri­als, abun­dant local art­work and design ele­ments that com­ple­ment the nat­ur­al beau­ty of the islands.

In addi­tion to a 24-hour Emer­gency Depart­ment, Peace Island hous­es a can­cer care and infu­sion cen­ter, inpa­tient med­ical unit, imag­ing depart­ment, lab­o­ra­to­ry, surgery suite and fam­i­ly med­i­cine clinic.

With access to an array of ser­vices pre­vi­ous­ly unavail­able to them, San Juan Island res­i­dents have been saved thou­sands of off-island med­ical vis­its since Peace Island opened. Some 10-year totals include:

  • 35,817 Emer­gency Depart­ment visits
  • 1,575 patients admitted
  • 133,203 clin­ic visits
  • 17,661 chemother­a­py infusions
  • 2,825 colono­scopies
  • 8,600 mam­mo­grams
  • 16,934 CT scans
  • 1,841 MRIs
  • 9,330 ultra­sounds
  • 380,174 lab tests
  • 14,719 out­pa­tient rehab ther­a­py ses­sions — added in 2020
  • 159 ortho­pe­dic out­pa­tient surg­eries — added in 2015
  • 356 gen­er­al out­pa­tient surg­eries — added in 2015

Today Peace Island employs 109 full-time care­givers and providers and eight vis­it­ing spe­cial­ists, and is sup­port­ed by the excep­tion­al Peace Island Vol­un­teers orga­ni­za­tion. The med­ical cen­ter works with mul­ti­ple val­ued com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, includ­ing San Juan Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict, the Joyce L. Sobel Fam­i­ly Resource Cen­ter, and San Juan Coun­ty Health & Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices to keep local res­i­dents safe and healthy.

“We are proud of our progress and incred­i­bly grate­ful to our care­givers, vol­un­teers and com­mu­ni­ty part­ners for help­ing us serve with com­pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion, and to our patients for trust­ing us with their care,” said Jack Estra­da, Peace Island chief admin­is­tra­tive offi­cer. “It’s been our hon­or. We look for­ward to serv­ing the com­mu­ni­ty for many more decades to come.”

High tide at Eagle Cove

Posted November 17, 2022 at 2:25 pm by

Island Senior: Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted November 17, 2022 at 1:24 pm by

With my Mom, Flossie, at Plimoth Village 1991

Each year Thanks­giv­ing comes around as a time­ly reminder to be thank­ful for the many ways in which we are blessed. One thing I am thank­ful for are my mem­o­ries of a fam­i­ly trip to Boston and vis­it to the his­toric Plimoth Plan­ta­tion.

The main rea­son for the trip was my sis­ter Betty’s wed­ding but the rich his­to­ry of the place was impos­si­ble to ignore. Right there in the church­yard where the wed­ding took place were the grave­stones of both Ben­jamin Franklin and Moth­er Goose!

As tourists we saw a repli­ca of the Mayflower and the real Ply­mouth Rock. With­out the plaque Ply­mouth Rock would be unre­mark­able, but it is said to be where the Pil­grims first set foot on the Amer­i­can con­ti­nent in 1620. We also vis­it­ed a repli­ca of a 17th cen­tu­ry Pil­grim vil­lage. Here actors played the parts of his­toric folk, a preach­er, a black­smith, and indus­tri­ous farmwomen.

Also part of the muse­um was a native wetu — a house. In this set­ting, descen­dants of Wampanoag natives demon­strat­ed tan­ning a deer hide and cook­ing but what I found most mem­o­rable were the jokes they told about the Pilgrims.

So much of the his­to­ry between Euro­pean set­tlers and indige­nous Amer­i­cans is a grim sto­ry of vio­lent con­quest. This was true about the Pil­grims, yet in the fall of 1621, after a year of hard­ship and sick­ness, the Pil­grims and the Wampanoag gath­ered togeth­er for three days of feast­ing and entertainment.

This Thanks­giv­ing if you are gath­er­ing with fam­i­ly, friends, or com­mu­ni­ty, between the turkey, pie, and foot­ball be sure to take a few moments to count your bless­ings. My Mom and Jim are gone now. The chil­dren of my sister’s mar­riage are now grown-up adults. Time has swept by since I poked Ply­mouth Rock with my own toe.

I’m thank­ful for pump­kin pie and turkey sand­wich­es. I’m thank­ful for my dear friends and the beau­ti­ful island I call home. I’m also thank­ful for my mem­o­ries of a fun fam­i­ly jour­ney across the coun­try to the place of the first Thanks­giv­ing. Have a great Thanks­giv­ing everyone!

Note: The island’s 24th annu­al Com­mu­ni­ty Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner will take place from noon to 5 p.m. at the Mullis Cen­ter. The Mullis Cen­ter will sup­ply the space but the Com­mu­ni­ty Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner orga­ni­za­tion is putting on the event. To par­tic­i­pate or vol­un­teer, vis­it their web­site.

Comprehensive Plan Update nearly complete

Posted November 17, 2022 at 8:50 am by

The Coun­ty shares news about the immi­nent com­ple­tion of its 2036 Com­pre­hen­sive Plan Update.

The San Juan Coun­ty Coun­cil is expect­ed to adopt the 2036 Com­pre­hen­sive Plan Update by the end of the year. With a Coun­ty Coun­cil pub­lic hear­ing on Novem­ber 29, the end of the six-year project is in sight.

“This is such an impor­tant step for the Coun­ty,” said Coun­cilmem­ber Jamie Stephens, who has spent half of his 12-year coun­cil career work­ing on the Plan.

The cul­mi­na­tion of six years of meet­ings, pub­lic hear­ings, and input, the Plan seeks to imple­ment the County’s Vision, meet the needs of the 2036 pop­u­la­tion, and guide the Islands into the next decade.

“The Plan has been a major focus for our staff and the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion,” said David Williams, the County’s Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment. “It is the byprod­uct of tremen­dous com­mu­ni­ty input and tru­ly reflects the views and atti­tudes of islanders.”

The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion ded­i­cat­ed 71 meet­ings to the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan Update begin­ning in 2016. Since mid-Sep­tem­ber, the Coun­cil has held sev­en spe­cial meet­ings to review dif­fer­ent ele­ments of the Plan includ­ing land use, hous­ing, trans­porta­tion, his­toric and arche­o­log­i­cal preser­va­tion, offi­cial maps, and more. A pub­lic hear­ing is sched­uled for Novem­ber 29 where the com­mu­ni­ty is invit­ed to share feedback.

“The adop­tion of this Plan is excit­ing because it will allow the Coun­ty to begin to imple­ment updat­ed poli­cies that will help us solve some of the most press­ing island issues with regards to hous­ing, land use, trans­porta­tion, and cli­mate resilience,” said Sophia Cas­sam, one of the lead plan­ners work­ing on the Plan.

Updat­ing the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan ensures the Coun­ty is in com­pli­ance with the Growth Man­age­ment Act and is eli­gi­ble for future grant oppor­tu­ni­ties. Changes also improve the usabil­i­ty of the Plan and pro­vide new analy­ses, assess­ments, and inventories.

Those inter­est­ed in read­ing the cur­rent draft and learn­ing more about the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan Updates can vis­it the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan land­ing page on the Coun­ty web­site.

Freezer Burned: Tales of Interior Alaska

Posted November 16, 2022 at 8:06 pm by

Freez­er Burned is an ongo­ing series for the San Juan Update, writ­ten by Steve Ulvi. Read the pre­vi­ous sto­ry in this series.

The Ala­pah Creek Partnership

Nate Cut­ler felt rein­vig­o­rat­ed after the echo-cham­ber of intro­spec­tion dur­ing so many weeks alone. Sonny’s pos­i­tive nature and easy adap­ta­tion to the chal­lenges of each new day lift­ed his heart. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, at times, espe­cial­ly in the soft light of the kerosene lamp, Sonny’s dark eyes remind­ed Nate of the love of his life, Angela, who was also Sonny’s aunt. She fled the Kuuk, shat­tered by the acci­den­tal death of their infant son, Jacob, for the embrace of extend­ed kin in Tonas­ket Cross­ing. After a few months she abrupt­ly moved on to Anchor­age and anonymi­ty. She was still unable to for­give her­self and reliv­ed the night­mare every day. She had recent­ly sug­gest­ed a divorce.

Son­ny noticed that Nate still had a small memo­r­i­al in front of the cab­in, a sim­ple altar of remem­brance for lit­tle Jacob. Nate’s fre­quent vis­its cre­at­ed an ongo­ing epi­taph of per­son­al tragedy as well as the sweet mem­o­ries of the ener­giz­ing love that grew at the wild Alapah.

The swelling had quick­ly dimin­ished in Nate’s jaw. They teamed up to relo­cate and improve the trail Son­ny had bro­ken out on the Kuuk Riv­er walk­ing up from the Ram­parts Canyon. Son­ny could not have known where Nate’s wood­land trails left the riv­er to cut across bends. Nate had been care­ful to choose access points with downed trees or rough ter­rain fea­tures that blocked spring snow­ma­chine access. For sev­er­al years, the unwel­come Pok­er Creek crew had been motor­ing into the upper Kuuk for a week of nefar­i­ous activ­i­ties dur­ing the long sun­ny days of late win­ter. Like an alco­hol fueled spring break before the plac­er min­ing sea­son began. There was ample evi­dence and rumors of wildlife poach­ing by plane. Nate had gen­er­al­ly avoid­ed them but espe­cial­ly so now that he was a sea­son­al park ranger. He lived with­in the bound­aries of the new Nation­al Park: he would soon know height­ened social crit­i­cism, even hatred, los­ing friends, liv­ing on the razor’s edge. Con­tin­ue Reading

Shining a light on the Pacific sand lance

Posted November 16, 2022 at 3:58 pm by

Friends of the San Juans share news about their mul­ti-year for­age fish research project.

If you have ever seen a seabird with small, sil­very and slen­der fish in its mouth, you have seen for­age fish — most like­ly a Pacif­ic sand lance. Essen­tial play­ers in the Sal­ish Sea marine food web, sand lance are key prey for salmon, rock­fish, seabirds, and many marine mam­mals. Sand lance are espe­cial­ly impor­tant in the diet of young salmon as they are often the first fish they can eat.

Friends of the San Juans recent­ly com­plet­ed a mul­ti-year research project to iden­ti­fy which beach­es Pacif­ic sand lance lay their eggs on, or spawn on, in San Juan Coun­ty. After an incred­i­ble effort over the course of four win­ters, Friends doc­u­ment­ed 12 new spawn­ing sites, more than dou­bling the num­ber of pre­vi­ous­ly known sand lance spawn­ing beach­es in San Juan Coun­ty from nine to 21. Addi­tion­al­ly, nine new surf smelt spawn­ing sites were documented.

Sand lance spawn in the win­ter when low tides occur pri­mar­i­ly at night and con­di­tions are often too rough for boat-based field­work. This has lim­it­ed the abil­i­ty of sci­en­tists to doc­u­ment, and thus pro­tect, these vital­ly impor­tant spawn­ing beach­es. But as the say­ing goes, there’s no such thing as bad weath­er, only bad gear. Each win­ter from 2018 to 2022, Friends staff and vol­un­teers bun­dled up in their rain gear and boots, gath­er­ing sand sam­ples from 175 beach­es on 13 local islands. A total of 1,000 sand sam­ples were gath­ered to lat­er inspect for eggs.

As inter­tidal beach spawn­ers, sand lance are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble to the impacts of human-built struc­tures on shore­lines. These new­ly doc­u­ment­ed spawn­ing sites will now receive greater local and state pro­tec­tions. Friends’ research will also be used to iden­ti­fy future sites for both pro­tec­tion and restora­tion actions that will sup­port the marine food web, help­ing recov­er Chi­nook salmon and crit­i­cal­ly engaged South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales.

This project was tru­ly a com­mu­ni­ty endeav­or. Stu­dents from six islands, along with trained com­mu­ni­ty sci­ence vol­un­teers, con­tributed a total of 900 hours. Over 275 stu­dents from Orcas Island High School, Spring Street Inter­na­tion­al School, Wal­dron School, and Decatur School received train­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ed in field sur­veys on their islands.

Oth­er part­ners include Dan Pent­ti­la of Sal­ish Sea Bio­log­i­cal, the Samish Indi­an Nation’s Nat­ur­al Resources Depart­ment, and hun­dreds of shore­line landown­ers who pro­vid­ed beach access. The project was con­duct­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife, with fund­ing from the Wash­ing­ton State Salmon Recov­ery Fund­ing Board, WDFW’s Aquat­ic Lands Enhance­ment Account, the Wheel­er Foun­da­tion, and donors of Friends of the San Juans.