Evergreen Islands of Accomplishments Over 40 Years

by Tom Glade Wednesday, February 8, 2017 12:21 PM

The Beginning…

Evergreen Islands is a non-profit, membership organization, incorporated in Washington State.  We’re a 501(c)(3) organization; thus, donations are tax-deductible. Citizen input and participation in local land use planning and development can have a real impact, which has been amply proven by the active group of citizens who work together to help protect the fragile environment of Skagit County’s saltwater islands.

In 1969, a group of Fidalgo Island residents organized to successfully oppose construction of a nuclear power plant on Kiket Island.  Once owned by Seattle City Light, Kiket Island is now co‑owned by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

In 1977, the group officially incorporated as “Evergreen Islands.”  In 1993, Evergreen Islands became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

Evergreen Islands’ focus since then has been “monitoring and supporting the responsible enforcement of local, state, and national laws that protect the environment, specifically the environmental protections contained in municipal comprehensive plans and policies, municipal and county shoreline programs, the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA), the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (SMA), Federal Water Pollution Control Act, and the  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”

Our Successes Over the Years…

q  The threats faced back in 1976 included the proposed clearcutting of lovely Hoypus Hill, at the northern end of Whidbey Island.  Evergreen Islands successfully met that challenge and went on from there. As a result of intervention by Evergreen Islands to avert clearcutting, a model 35‑year selective logging plan was developed for Hoypus Hill with the Department of Natural Resources.


Our Mission Statement

“to promote, protect, and defend the unique ecosystem involving the saltwater islands of Skagit County and their environs as it relates to the built and natural environments

 

q  After a developer applied for a 99‑year lease to build condominiums on its western shore, Evergreen Island convinced the Washington State legislature to purchase Fidalgo Island’s beautiful Heart Lake and create Heart Lake State Park.

q  In the mid-1980s, Evergreen Islands’ opposition to the proposed Ship Harbor development preserved a large wetland of statewide significance that was slated to be a large marina/hotel complex.

q  In 1989, Evergreen Islands joined with the Anacortes Parks Foundation, the Shannon Point Marine Center, and the Port of Anacortes to establish the Ship Harbor Interpretative Preserve, “an outdoor classroom for students and the public to learn about the biota and history of Ship Harbor wetlands and shoreline.”

q  In 2001 Washington State Parks transferred Heart Lake State Park to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, and we successfully lobbied the Parks Foundation to require that the transfer include the state’s protections for the old growth trees.

q  In our 2001 appeal, Evergreen Islands v. Skagit County, WWGMHB 00‑2‑0046c, Evergreen Islands challenged Skagit County’s Comprehensive Plan amendments that would have allowed urban development of South Fidalgo Island.  The Growth Management Hearings Board ruled that Fidalgo Subarea Plan must be completed any other increase in density are allowed to occur on the Island,” but Skagit County never completed the Plan.

Evergreen Islands Efforts Continue…

q  In 2003, Evergreen Islands participated directly in the developing a South Fidalgo Island Subarea Plan.  Through Evergreen Islands’ efforts, a move to rezone South Fidalgo Island from the rural density of 1 home per 10 acres to an urban density of 1 home per 2‑1/2 acres was thwarted.

q  In 2004, Evergreen Islands introduced a new goal to the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan which promoted Open space connectivity by establishing and acquiring a network of open space and public access corridors.

q  In 2005, Evergreen Islands joined with Futurewise and Skagit Audubon in a Growth Management Act (GMA) appeal regarding the absence of a Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) in the Anacortes Municipal Code that’s required by the GMA.  The coalition prevailed and Evergreen Islands subsequently identified many Anacortes environmentally sensitive areas that are now protected by the CAO.

q  In 2006 and again in 2010, we successfully protected the Anaco Bourn, a natural stream that flows from the Anacortes Forest Lands to Burrows Bay.

q  In 2007, Evergreen Islands with Friends of Skagit County successfully appealed the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan amendments that would have allowed 1) new more intensive commercial and industrial uses in the Skagit County’s rural areas; 2) the establishment of new Rural Centers; 3) the expansion of Rural Marine Industrial lands; 4) inappropriate growth on resource lands.

q  In 2011, Evergreen Islands introduced two new goals to the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan.  Our “Physically Active Community” goal included Complete Streets policy, which enables safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

Our other goal, “Increased Public Participation,” was a goal to increase public participation in the permitting process for Conditional Use permit applications.

q  In 2013, Evergreen Islands joined with local organizations to successfully oppose the Tethys Enterprises’ plans to build a water bottling plant that would have shipped 5 million-gallons-per-day of water out‑of-state despite the fact that Skagit farmers desperately need for the water in late summer.


Our Efforts Are Recognized

q  Although recognition is not our goal, Evergreen Island’s work has not gone unrecognized.  Three times over the years either the group as a whole or individual group leaders have been honored by receiving the Department of Ecology’s Environmental Excellence Award. In 2014, we successfully appealed a Skagit County administrative decision that allowed clear‑cutting the south slope of Mount Erie, the iconic landmark of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

q  In 2014, Evergreen Islands introduced a new goal to the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan in response to the Tethys water bottling plant controversy and the ongoing Skagit River water wars over the Skagit River Instream Flow Rule.  In 2016, the City of Anacortes adopted “Goal U‑8.  Sustainable Water Policy. Ensure availability of water for future generations.” Correspondingly, five million gallons of water a day is available to help Skagit farmers survive the late summer dry spells.

q  In 2015, joined with South Fidalgo Island residents to oppose Rockpile Dojo, a martial arts/fitness and firearm safety training facility.  While the project was approved, the Hearing Examiner imposed 12 conditions on the project.  The conditions included: 1) “No discharge of firearms in association with the will be permitted on site”, and 2) “the property shall have no exterior indication of the business (except for a small unilluminated sign). Any apparatus or equipment for outside activities on the site shall be stored indoors when not in use.”

q  In 2015, Evergreen Islands with Earthjustice, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, FRIENDS of the San Juans, ForestEthics (now STAND), Washington Environmental Council, and Friends of the Earth to successfully overturn Skagit County’s administrative decision that would have allowed Shell Puget Sound Refinery to build a crude-by-rail train terminal without completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

q  In 2016, Evergreen Islands requested Skagit County to issue a Determination of Significance (DS) for Tesoro’s proposed xylene plant and its requisite marine oil export terminal.  As a result, Skagit County issued DS, which requires Tesoro to conduct an Environmental Impact Study before the project is approved.

q  In 2016, Shell suspended its permit application for its ‘Crude-by-Rail’ rail terminal to receive Bakken crude oil trains carrying Bakken crude oil to the refinery 6 days a week.

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