photo: Amy Nelson © 2020

Virus versus visitors: San Juan residents weigh health risks of tourism amid pandemic

March 26, 2020
Hayley Day

In the San Juan Islands, locals bank on a bustling tourism economy to generate business and provide wages, particularly during the sunny summer months. But with a growing pandemic, islanders, like others in small vacation destinations, are realizing fewer visitors might mean healthier locals.

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A wood stove swap-out is helping clear the air in rural Whatcom County

March 5, 2020
Matt Benoit

The tree-dense Columbia Valley, flanked by Red Mountain to the east and Sumas Mountain to the west, contains at its center around 1,600 homes. Many rely on wood stoves as a primary heat source. As a result, the valley’s large amount of wood smoke often combines with specific weather conditions to produce the county’s worst air quality.

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San Juan Islands’ fresh-water supply sustainability is in question

January 7, 2020
Mike Sato

Back in the ’70s, the Lopez Island water witch and other old-timers would rattle a newcomer’s cage by telling him the water feeding wells in the San Juan Islands came from a large undersea aquifer reaching to Mount Baker. The water witch and the old timers are gone, and the specter of climate crisis is here. No one jokes about fresh water in the islands coming from Mount Baker. Instead, talk is in earnest and concerns the question of sustaining the islands’ supply of fresh water.

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2019

Whatcom plans as climate crisis threatens shorelines, homes, livelihoods

January 7, 2020
Kimberly Cauvel

The worst impacts of climate change in Whatcom County are yet to come, scientists say. Researchers say that while some changes may seem to be emerging slowly, swift action is needed to curb and prepare for them.Residents are already seeing impacts on the waterfront, air quality and fisheries they treasure.

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Grassroots groups work to save habitat, keep streams cool for Nooksack salmon

January 7, 2020
Kimberly Cauvel

As local streams get less water from lower snowpacks and grow warmer during hotter summers, some local grassroots organizations are working to reverse or soften the damage to habitat and the fish that rely on colder water.

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