2021: A look back at some stories from the first full year of Salish Current
2021 was a year like no other, with themes such as public health vis-à-vis COVID-19 and opioid addiction; social justice in the courts, the arts, housing and policing; and climate change and natural resources including water rights management. Salish Current offers a look back via articles published during the nonprofit newsroom’s first full year.
Whatcom farmers face manure management challenges after flooding
Flooding in Whatcom and Skagit counties in November put major stress on local dairies, including lost animals and lost revenues for some. Now there’s another hurdle: With storage lagoons overtopping, where can they store all that manure? Farmers and county and state agencies are stepping up to the challenge, to prevent pollution downstream and restore infrastructure.
Vigil calls for more urgency to save endangered salmon, orcas
A vigil in support of endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest drew environmental advocates and members of the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe to the Bellingham waterfront on Nov. 20. The event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the original declaration of Snake River sockeye salmon as endangered, and was held in conjunction with several similar events around the region.
Clock starts on Nooksack basin water rights inventory; stakeholders yet to discuss solutions
Weeks of sparse rainfall and a historic heat wave marked the end of June — and the start of a process to establish water rights among various users in Whatcom County’s Nooksack River basin.
Local Juneteenth event celebrates diversity, freedom, challenge
Black Lives Matter signs waved over the Maritime Heritage Park amphitheater and booths lined the concrete walkway on Saturday, June 19 — the fourth annual Juneteenth celebration in Bellingham.
House of Tears Carvers visit Bellingham with totem pole bound for DC
Several hundred people in Bellingham visited a totem pole created by Lummi carvers from a 400-year-old cedar log — the latest stop in the Red Road to D.C. tour of the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere across the U.S. toward its final destination in Washington, D.C.
A next step to resolve Nooksack water rights waits on legislative budget decision
The state Department of Ecology has announced its intent to resolve the contentious issues around water rights in the Nooksack Basin through the legal action of adjudication, and money to move that process forward is proposed in the budget under consideration by the Legislature.
Internet connectivity has improved in Whatcom County, but many gaps remain
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many more students in Whatcom County are able to connect to the internet for remote learning, thanks to communitywide efforts, particularly in rural communities with limited or no internet options. Still, a clear digital divide remains.
Community Voices / Understanding the importance of the Point Elliott Treaty
An understanding of the elements of sovereignty of the Lummi Nation and the significance of the term “treaty” is integral to understanding the importance of these agreements then — and now.
Oil train derailment in Whatcom County drives home transport risk concerns
An oil train derailment spilling more than 29,000 gallons of Bakken crude in Whatcom County is prompting officials lobbying for state and federal oil train regulations in recent years to consider whether more can be done.
Much more than a marina: Port of Bellingham drives economic recovery and growth
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, responsibilities of the Port of Bellingham Board of Commissioners changed, to focus on keeping local businesses afloat through the economic downturn.
Community Voices / Whose water is it in Whatcom County?
This may surprise you: Water, even in wet Whatcom County, is a scarce resource.
‘Your life can’t stop’: class of 2020 faces the ‘real world’ during COVID-19
This year’s graduates are entering a “real world” disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite challenges, they’re moving forward — even when it means changing long-held plans.
‘Defund the police’ movement drives Whatcom racial justice discussions
Local activists are advocating for a 50% reduction in the Bellingham Police Department budget, even as BPD says it could use more resources for meeting the calls it routinely answers now — including a large number related to behavioral health and social welfare. While reformers would like to see change soon, community-wide conversations are just beginning, and the eventual direction and pace of change are as yet unknown.
Whatcom Museum opens heritage exhibits to indigenous people; part of ‘bigger conversation’
New exhibits and a new perspective on access at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art have become threads in a national conversation about the relationship between museums and indigenous people.
Whatcom plans as climate crisis threatens shorelines, homes, livelihoods
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.