The beautiful San Juan Islands

Stormwater emptying into harbor

Photo – Brian Rader, Pollution Prevention Specialist

Canoe Journey

Photo – Swinomish Tribal Archive

Historical Lime Kiln

Orca with tanker

Photo – Chris Teren

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
—Dr. Seuss, The Lorax


Major oil spills

  1. Fund and support local, community-based oil spill response organizations like Islands Oil Spill Association (IOSA).
  2. Train to become a volunteer oil spill responder with IOSA.
  3. Let your local representatives at the town, city, county, and state, know your thoughts and concerns on increased vessel traffic and its potential for oil spills in and around the San Juan Islands. Make sure permits are in place for safe shipping practices, and there is adequate funding for necessary oil spill response equipment, personnel, and training for the clean-up of a major spill.
  4. Volunteer to train and collect baseline data for oil spill studies.
  5. Volunteer to be a subcommittee member for the Marine Resources Committee.


Runoff from the built environment

  1. Use Low Impact Development (LID) techniques to manage stormwater runoff, such as natural landscaping, rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs and permeable paving where appropriate. LID techniques imitate the natural hydrology of a site as rain would penetrate the forest floor and absorbed by the tree roots rather than as surface runoff on a built environment.
  2. Try to avoid using fertilizers or choose organic or time-released fertilizers with low levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.
  3. Plant and maintain native vegetation around your property. Leave a buffer of native vegetation to uptake nutrients and fertilizers before they enter the watershed. Consider using a filtering buffer that includes mushrooms.
  4. Volunteer by serving on the Stormwater Citizens Advisory Committee in San Juan County or attending meetings and providing comments.
  5. Inspect and maintain your on-site sewage system as required by the San Juan County Health and Community Services On-site sewage program.


Shoreline development

  1. Minimize shoreline alterations to preserve natural shoreline conditions.
  2. Talk to a planner in the San Juan County Department of Community Development about the Shoreline Master Program and about local and state laws regulating shoreline development, if you are considering building any structures aimed at preventing erosion on a shoreline property.
  3. Consider using soft shore techniques such as large wood or gravel berms to provide wave protection, planting native vegetation and installing adequate drainage to stabilize slopes.
  4. Learn more about the natural processes affecting beaches and bluffs of Puget Sound (Johannessen & MacLennan, 2007).
  5. Restore a beach with a local, coastal geologist/ geo-morphologist like those at Coastal Geologic Services.
  6. Volunteer to monitor local beaches to see if fish like surf smelt, pacific herring, or sand lance spawn on it.
  7. Learn how to monitor bull kelp.


Implementation Committee Meeting:

Bimonthly first Thursdays, 11:00 am -1:00 pm, 7/1, 9/2, 11/4
See San Juan County website Agenda Center for agendas and meeting links

Accountability Oversight Committee Meetings:

Schedule pending

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve, 10441 Bayview Edison Road, Mount Vernon



San Juan County Oil Spill Risk Consequences Assessment and Emergency Response Towing Vessel Cost Evaluation, March 2019