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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 6, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Puget Sound’s health

In our own backyard

Puget Sound is drowning in toxins, depleted of salmon and filled with invasive species that are destroying its wonder, beauty and its wildlife.

In January of this year, the Northwest region of NOAA’s [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s] National Marine Fisheries Service submitted a 251-page document of a recovery plan for this Northwest icon and how to best address the environmental problems of Puget Sound.

It has taken NOAA years to determine that the best way to save our beloved orca and clean the Sound is to “support salmon restoration, clean up existing contaminants, prevent oil spills, enhance public awareness and educate the public on actions they can participate in” as well as several other solutions.

Nonprofit organizations such as Orca Network, The Center for Whale Research, Save our Wild Salmon, Cascadia Research, People for Puget Sound and many others have been saying these things for years and it has fallen on deaf ears.

How long will it take before our Legislature, governor and the businesses that continue to pollute Puget Sound begin to do something about it? The time is now.

We can no longer wait to reverse the damage we have done to one of the most beautiful, abundant and extraordinary ecosystems in the world. It is a gift to live in such proximity to stellar sea lions, harbor seals, peregrine falcons, eagles, humpbacks, minke whales and orcas. This is all in our own backyard. Most people will never have the opportunity to see such spectacular wildlife in their lives, yet, we continue to harm Puget Sound, delay its cleanup and ignore the facts.

It has taken years to destroy Puget Sound and it will take years to restore it. We must stop procrastinating and begin working together — vigorously, eagerly and passionately – on the solutions necessary to improve the Sound’s health and in sustaining its wildlife.

— Paris Luce, Kirkland

Can we say, “conflict of interest”?

The story in today’s Seattle Times about outgoing Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland presents a fair picture of the facts surrounding the situation [“State signs lease for new dock to expand Maury Island mine,” News, Dec. 3].

What it does not do, however, is ask the very critical question of why a defeated candidate for re-election, who received a $50,000 contribution from Glacier Northwest (funneled through the Committee for Balanced Stewardship, which campaigned for Sutherland’s re-election) is permitted to approve a request from that same contributor as he is about to leave office.

I’m not an expert on the Washington state ethics laws, but there is an obvious conflict of interest that must be addressed.

Preserve Our Islands, a Vashon-based not-for-profit that is fighting Glacier’s plans to expand the gravel mine in question, will surely raise those questions in court. However, all Washington residents need to consider the impact of such contributions and the appearance of conflict of interest that has occurred. Our lawmakers in Olympia should re-examine our ethics rules and amend them if necessary to prohibit elected officials from taking action on any matter that involves contributors to their campaigns.

— Stephen Benowitz, Vashon

Connect the dots

You stated that “The role of a healthy, robust Sound in the region’s environmental landscape, economy and Northwest soul is well understood” and I hope that is true [“Sound Advice For Olympia,” editorial, Dec. 3]. However, in more than one past editorial you have dismissed the decadelong opposition to a large gravel mine on Maury Island as “NIMBYISM,” which leads me to wonder how well you understand it.

On page B5 of the same day’s paper, there was a story about outgoing Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland’s issuance of a 30-year lease to Glacier Northwest for it to build a massive new dock to expand its gravel mine. For heaven’s sake, please connect the dots. Glacier’s mine is not a NIMBY issue; it’s about the health of Puget Sound and the sanity in governmental response to environmental problems.

— Edna Dam, Vashon

Comments | More in Environment, Washington Legislature

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