Clinton forum focuses on environment of Puget Sound

Local issues and local actions are at the core of a forum to be held this weekend in Clinton.

“Everyone agrees, what a beautiful place Puget Sound is, but they really don’t get what’s needed to keep it that way,” said organizer Carol Flax.

The Clinton Progressive Association will present a one-day meeting on Saturday focusing on education and action related to key environmental issues affecting Puget Sound and South Whidbey.

A variety of speakers will discuss issues related to the land and the sea.

Stacy Smith from the Whidbey Conservation District will speak about working with the land and not against it. The organization assists rural landowners, farmers, municipalities and other partners to protect and restore the natural resources of Whidbey Island.

Smith has degrees in environmental science, along with a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish, from the University of Idaho. She is experienced in storm-water management and erosion and sediment control through developing a best-management-practices handbook for maintaining rural roads in Idaho.

Environmental consultant Jeff Herrara will talk about getting the needs of humans and salmon on a converging path at the shoreline’s edge.

The University of Washington’s Michael Brett will discuss the problems of human-waste management and the effects on oxygen essential for marine life.

Brett is one of the civil and environmental engineers that plan, design, construct and manage the essential facilities and structures that are all around us‚ from buildings and bridges to dams and transit systems.

Brett will discuss the use of sophisticated tools at the forefront of technology that engineers in the field use to solve the problems of increasing population and mounting environmental challenges.

Heather Trim from People for Puget Sound will focus on the best way to deal with the hidden toxins that lurk just below the surface of the seemingly clean waters that surround Whidbey.

Trim said her talk focuses on the common areas that folks don’t often consider.

“People are aware of storm-water runoff, but not so much dust in the home that, over time, can adversely affect water quality,” she said. “There’s a lot people that take things for granted when it comes to pollution.”

She said the Sound is in trouble. Orca whales and salmon are endangered and may face extinction due to pollution, loss of habitat and the ever-present threat of oil spills. Fishing, shellfishing, recreation and human health are increasingly at risk as toxins flow into the living waters.

“We must work together to protect and restore the Sound to health for future generations,” Trim said.

Four prominent local environmentalists will lead a response panel with an audience discussion on community actions related to land use.

The idea is simple: After learning about the hazards to the Sound, attendees will be given the knowledge to translate their new-found understanding into an action plan.

“We hope a lot of folks show up because the lack of education, and the understanding that goes with it, is a real barrier to guaranteeing clean waters for the future,” Flax said.

The forum is being presented by the Clinton Progressive Association, in collaboration with the Puget Sound Partnership, People For Puget Sound and the Institute for Children’s Environmental Health. The Port of South Whidbey provided funding.

The event runs from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at the Clinton Community Hall on Highway 525 and Humphrey Road.

Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. Advance reservations are $10, or $12 at the door. The fee includes all four sessions, morning coffee, an organic lunch by local chef Sheila Sebree and an afternoon reception.

Space is limited, so advance reservations are highly recommended.

There will also be opportunities to view displays from regional and local environmental nonprofits and agencies. Local teachers are encouraged to attend and are eligible for clock hours through the state education office.

For details or to register, visit,

or call 425-791-1192

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