Take Action: Gravel Mining in the South Fork

Disappointedly, the Whatcom County Council voted 3-4 on August 9th to change 280 acres of forestry land to  a mineral/mining designation, which essentially lays the ground work for one of the county’s largest gravel mines to be located in an ecological sensitive area in the South Fork Valley. The rezone is on a steep slope at the base of Eddy’s mountain, located above the Nooksack and Samish Rivers and integral to salmon recovery projects in the area. In addition to the endangered Chinook, the proposed mining is in very close proximity to several organic farms that also depend on a secure watershed fueled by the aquifer recharge area that Whatcom County Council has slated for strip gravel mining.

With the council vote being so close (3-4), County Executive Pete Kremen has the authority to veto the decision based on his understanding of this unique ecologically and culturally sensitive area.

Please add your support by acting on the following request made by Friends of the Nooksack Samish Watershed, which has been leading this long fight for our water, our farms, and our rural heritage. And, please consider forwarding this onto your contacts.

The deadline is tight:  Monday August 15th
E-mail: pkremen@co.whatcom.wa.us

Phone (360) 676-6717

If you’d like, you can also cc, or bcc nick@sunseedfarm.com and annamartin@yahoo.com

Feel free to copy and paste the following text into an email to Pete Kremen with any additions or changes that you would like him to know about. For example, he is currently running for County Council so, for instance,  a veto on this issue may provide a huge burst of enthusiasm for his campaign.

Dear Executive Kremen,

I was very disappointed by the outcome of the vote on the 280 MRL expansion in Acme. The county residents are very concerned about this issue and we are more politically aware and active than ever.  I realize that you are running a campaign and we are looking for a candidate that will listen to his constituency. The Council majority did not properly review the evidence or listen to the public on this issue. This area is upslope from two rivers and jeopardizes millions of dollars in restoration work, our local fisheries, and numerous local farms and businesses–all for gravel that will most likely serve Skagit and Snohomish counties where the mining company is located. Please maintain the forestry zoning of this land so that the current balance of resources–water, forest and agriculture–can continue to thrive in the South Fork valley. The Council made the wrong decision on this MRL proposal and I’m urging you to veto this regressive ordinance now, before it is too late.


Thanks so much for supporting these efforts, which will hopefully make a big difference to this part of the world.

July 4th, Acme Parade

Thanks for all the support SafeGuard the South Fork received at the Acme parade on the 4th of July.

We were honored to receive the Community Spirit Award amidst such a beautiful community!

Opinion Letter

Reprinted from the Foothills Gazette Opinion Letters, June 13-23, 2011

Corridor, Terminal Key Issues

Please do not forget that some of the politicians and local business people who supported the proposed Commerce Corridor that would have ripped up the rural South Fork Valley/Acme area and transformed it from a 2-land highway into an 8-lane mega highway/rail transport system, now support the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Don’t let anyone fool you. I hope you will write about the politicians running for County Executive and their views on the old Commerce Corridor plans and the current Gateway Pacific Terminal project, and just who is behind the funding of this Terminal. The advertising says it’s a Washington State company, but 49 percent of the company is owned by Goldman Sachs, one of the companies involved in our country’s financial crisis.

We need to keep our country rural, beautiful and clean, while providing good local jobs for people living here; not jobs for people who will be moving in to fill those jobs. Please report of these serious key issues, especially as the election nears, and I urge residents to do some research on their own.

-David Jennings, County

Upcoming Events: Bill McKibben and Mayor Pike


RE Sources is hosting Bill McKibben at the Fairhaven Village Green on Tuesday, May 31st at 5:00pm.  The event starts with an information fair and a performance by local band Mille and The Mentshn at 5pm, Bill will take the stage at 7:00. This event is free and open to the public. Invite your friends and neighbors! Click here for more information.

The following evening, Mayor Pike of Bellingham will hold a listening session regarding the coal terminal at 6pm on Wed, June 1 in the large courtroom in Municipal Court. It is important for county residents to make a showing at both the McKibben event and at the listening session to be sure that our voices and concerns are adequately represented and expressed. For those of us living along the alternative or inland route, you might want to brief your self on Mayor Pike’s firm stance towards BNSF considering this route for coal transport and prepare to speak at the meeting in response to similar assumptions.

While BNSF followed Pike’s public comments with their own public announcement claiming that the shoreline route is the only practical route to the proposed GP terminal,we’ll be posting a few facts here on why we don’t trust BNSF. For now, consider attending these events to speak up and defend Whatcom county-wide from the proposals currently on the table from SSA Marine and BNSF.

>ACTION: Public Assembly and Shoreline Master Program Hearing


To everyone working to stop coal export from the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal and the coal trains, please pass this on to everyone on your lists. 

The City of Bellingham’s Shoreline Master Program Hearing is Wed, May 25. Aligned with this important hearing related to water and shoreline rights, there are opportunities for getting informed and involved on the coal export issue also facing Whatcom County. 

Coal Export Strategy Meeting and Poster Making, The Old Foundry, Tuesday, May 24, 5:30

Anything Grows at The Old Foundry 100 E. Maple St. Bellingham would like to offer support in your efforts. We are holding a planning meeting for addressing the coal port implementation. All committed activists and organizations are welcome. We will also be sign making for the protesting outside city hall this wednesday. Anything Grows will be holding monthly events with the goal of raising awareness of the coal port situation and generating community support and direct action. 

Meeting and Public Assembly Wednesday, May 25 at City Hall 210 Lottie St. Bellingham 4:30ish

The public hearing is held in the chambers. From 6:00 PM until the meeting starts there will be a staff person who can answer your questions.  The meeting starts at 7 p.m. We need as many speakers who are fully informed to speak in opposition to the Shoreline Master Plan

The meeting room at city hall is small and can be easily packed. The crowd will probably overflow. We can let our strength be seen. City Hall is behind the City Library. There is an open area between the library and in front of city hall. It can accommodate a lot of people. A street separates the Whatcom County Administration from City Hall. Sidewalks go around the block where the library is, the city hall block and the Whatcom County Building. If people come early [4:30ish] before the workers and elected officials of both the City and Whatcom County go home, they can see our strength.

If you would like to speak at the meeting, when you come in you can sign up to speak. You will be given a form.  Please state on this form the City and County you live in. If you sign up to speak and then change your mind it is O.K. The moderator will then pass on to the next speaker.You do not have to speak you can present your letter. The letter will be a record.  This is something that Bellingham will decide but it affects the entire state.  I had a long conversation with Mr. Barry Wenger, Senior Environmental Planner, Washington State Dept. of Ecology concerning problems that we can address.

1. Access to the water: There will be an access problem if the trains come through. This problem will be decided on by the City of Bellingham although it affects the entire state. People in Bellingham can not get to the water if many trains with mile and one half length cars come through. People in the county will have a greater concern because they will have more difficulty getting through Bellingham to get to the water if the trains come through. The people in other cities and counties in Washington will have even greater problems than the Bellingham and County people in getting to the water because they will have a difficult in getting to Bellingham.  Mr. Wenger said that these are problems that the City will need to address. 

2.  Water: This matter is being heard by the Ecology Department. All questions about water problems need to be addressed. This means the water itself and all the things that live in the water.  This will also mean all things that move in the water.

The shoreline is the topic. Everything that is of concern about our shoreline needs to be addressed.

Mr. Wenger was very courteous and polite. His telephone number is 360-715-5200; email bwen461@ecy.wa.gov.   If you email him he will put you on his mailing list. Comments can also be emailed to him. Please feel free to call Pearl Follett at 360-671-0434 or email info@safeguardthesouthfork.org if you have further questions. 

We hope to see you before the meeting and after.  At last we can be heard!

Writing Letters: The "Inland" Route?

Due to technicalities wherein county government might find itself in a quasi-judicial status sooner than we think, we need concerned citizens to share their opinions with two media outlets immediately: the Whatcom County Council and Executive Pete Kremen. Once they have a permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal [GPT] in hand they have a quasi-judicial status and cannot receive any input from the public. This means we have to get letters in right away. Tell everyone you know to write! write! write! now! While they are still allowed to listen!

Our affiliate, RESources has a useful fact sheet available. Additionally, SGSF is in the process of developing a similar list of county impacts, so please email and send us any information you regard as worthwhile.

Don’t be bashful about writing to Bellingham Mayor, Dan Pike, who has done his best to tacitly support the coal terminal while simultaneously steering the coal train and its unnecessary impacts onto Skagit and Foothills folk! His so called “inland route” conjures up some desolate void out in the middle of nowhere … “away from population centers.” In actuality, his comment foists these mile and a half long monstrosities on the many population centers of Mt. Vernon, Burlington, Sedro Woolley, Acme, Deming, Nooksack, Lynden, Sumas, and Blaine. Thank you NOT Mr. Mayor. 

Truth be told, intricate interstate commerce legislation allows railroads, such as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe [BNSF], tremendous leeway to do what is in their most profitable interest and if GPT gets permitted the train will eventually be looping around the entire county.

Choose your targets friends and neighbors: GPT or BNSF. Which reminds me! There is an online petition available urging elected officials to support No Coal to China for Northwest Ports.

Event: Coal Train Forum

Coal Train Forum
Acme Elementary School
April 28, 7:00-9:00PM

A community discussion of the possibility for round the clock, mile-and-a-half-long, open load coal trains to travel through the South Fork in route to the proposed Gateway Coal Terminal at Cherry Point.

Coal trains have a history of degrading human health, water, and agricultural & forestry lands, making communities along the “inland route” through Burlington, Sedro Woolley, Acme, Van Zandt, Deming, and points north and west out to the coast particularly vulnerable.

Bob Ferris, Executive Director, RESources for Sustainable Communities, Bellingham, WA will discuss the Proposed Gateway Terminal

Jeff Margolis, Proprietor, Everybody’s, Van Zandt, WA will present on “Safeguarding Public Rail Crossings.”

Nicole Brown, on behalf of Safeguard the South Fork, will facilitate a community dialogue and present action items.