Monday, March 25, 2013

A True Legacy

Iceberg Point (Wikimedia)
On most days, real issues are painted in shades of gray and we need to tease out the surrounding facts and values in order to come to a clearer position. Some days, we’re blessed.

Today, President Obama will will designate the 1,000-plus acres in the San Juan Archipelago under the Bureau of Land Management as the San Juan Islands National Monument, the third in Washington state.

A lot of folks worked for a lot of years to bring the designation forward and, despite congressional barriers, have succeeded in establishing permanent protection via executive action.

There were never any serious objections to permanent protection of these lands. Some folks on principle didn’t want what they considered more federal government involvement, glossing over the fact that the lands were already under federal government administration. Some folks feared monument status would jeopardize the islands’ ambiance with more visitors, forgetting that innocence was lost many years ago with features in national and international publications and guide books.

A colleague said, “It’s great that he (the President) is doing this before something bad happened.” How often can we say that when talking about the issues we face in the Salish Sea?

Permanent protection of lands like the San Juan Islands National Monument is the true legacy we seek, a legacy in an every changing world rapidly shrinking in wildness. I won’t begrudge anyone’s efforts to push for a coal port or an oil pipeline or anyone’s belief that the few jobs that industrialization provides trumps the natural world— but I’ll fight those efforts and work to find other good jobs for folks because on a day like today, it’s clear that’s not the legacy I value.

I find it better to imagine the children of a future time visiting the lands of the San Juan Islands National Monument than standing in the shadows of a coal export facility.

Thank you, good citizens and President Obama, for establishing a true legacy.

(To add your name to say ‘Thank you’ in ads to run in local papers, send your name (and the name of your group or business you represent) to Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument.)

--Mike Sato

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