I spent most of Sunday with a group of very savvy and passionate activists discussing, in part, the plight of Puget Sound's health and what's not being done to protect its health.
One emerging theme was the failure of the permitting system established to regulate projects big and small that alter the nearshore and shoreline environments, and the failure to enforce these regulations.
It was noted that there are the big projects by big corporations like gravel mining and coal export companies, but the real 'death of a thousand cuts' is the smaller dock and bulkheading projects, polluted runoff entering through a myriad of drainages, and malfunctioning onsite sewage systems.
It's almost as if the highly-visible, large scale projects done on behalf of the Sound in restoring the Nisqually Delta and un-damming the Elwha River are easier than cleaning up bays and inlets like Samish Bay and Quartermaster Harbor. As politically challenging as those large projects were, the number of interests involved were relatively fewer than the population and interests in a watershed.
"We, people, are the culprits," one activist observed. "And by 2020 we will have an increase in population equal to another Seattle."
"It's easy to be the David fighting the Goliath and making corporations the bad guy," another cautioned. "It's very hard when it gets down to neighbor vs. neighbor and I warn you, it isn't pleasant."
There wasn't a resolution to this discussion-- it's been one that's been confronted for the last 30 years. In larger terms, the discussion is about the proper role of government in exercising the public trust. It was a good Sunday and a good discussion for any day of the week.