HERONS NEED HELP
Anacortes American, August 21, 2002
About 10 years ago, Bud and Vera Kinney donated a heronry to our grandchildren, to our children, and to us. They set aside their land to protect in perpetuity one of the largest Great Blue Heron colonies in all of North America. These stately birds; the ones that grace Padilla Bay, Fidalgo Bay, Similk Bay, our fields, our ponds, and our roadsides; converge yearly on this site to produce another generation for us to enjoy.
But when T. Bailey was asked to find another home after they made more racket than the citizens of Anacortes could bear, did they care about this wonderful gift? Did they care when they hired a consulting firm that used a steady‑state noise meter to measure T. Bailey’s random bangs and clangs? A firm that conducted the noise study at T. Bailey’s March Point site instead of the downtown site that drew so many complaints. Does T. Bailey care when they propose to build an ordinary steel building with ordinary R13 and R19 insulation and with a large open bay – and then claim it will significantly decrease the noise that they made downtown?
Did T. Bailey care when they hired environmental consultants who failed to mention that this heron colony is one of the largest in all of North America? Consultants who failed to mention that the surge in the heron colony’s population coincided with Concrete Northwest’s abandonment of the site. Consultants who also failed to mention that the clang of a gravel truck’s tailgate invariably flushes the heron; that heron eggs die if the parents don’t return to the nest within 3 minutes.
Or how about the Port Commissioners, do they care? Do they care that the Port’s own Comprehensive Plan includes criteria that their projects be compatible with existing, adjacent environmental uses and protect sensitive environmental areas. Do they care that the intrinsic value of the Skagit Land Trust property will be destroyed if T. Bailey’s noise drives the herons away?
Do the Commissioners care that our state’s environmental protection laws require an environmental impact study when a there’s “a reasonable likelihood of more than a moderate adverse impact on environmental quality”? The EIS process that provides an impartial discussion of significant environmental impacts, and alternative sites, and measures that avoid adverse environmental impacts. How likely is it that the consultants hired by the Port and T. Bailey were impartial when their livelihoods depend on providing reports that favor their clients’ plans?
Obviously the Port Commissioners and T. Bailey don’t care because the Port is issuing a Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance. But Bud and Vera Kinney – they cared – they bequeathed us a matchless endowment. And we care – we care deeply because the heronry is ours now. Sure, Skagit Land Trust owns the land, but Bud and Vera gave the heronry to all of us.