Letter: Sound Water Stewards not responsible for petition

Editor,

Sound Water Stewards of Island County thanks all who joined us at our 26th annual Sound Waters University on Feb. 1 at South Whidbey High School. Over 700 registrants, exhibitors and volunteers participated in a day of education about our natural world and efforts we each can take to sustain and improve our local environment.

During the day, SWU strove to provide fact-based information to all attendees through a keynote presentation, nearly 60 different classes and over 50 exhibits. As a nonprofit organization, our policy is to refrain from taking an advocacy position on issues in the belief that we can educate others to make their own decisions when presented with factual information.

The Feb. 12 edition of the South Whidbey Record contained an article titled “WEAN leads opposition to Navy training in parks.” The article suggested that SWS was responsible for this petition. This is not true.

The petition referenced was one WEAN had on their exhibit table (they are an advocacy organization). The Sound Water Stewards organization is not urging the State Parks Commission to reject (or accept) the Navy’s proposal to allow the use of Island County state parks (among other state parks) for Navy SEAL training exercises.

SWS is not responsible for the opinions of any of our exhibitors or presenters. It is likely that many of those concerned about our parks and local environment share concerns about the Navy using our Island County state parks in this way, but as an organization we do not advocate for political or legal actions.

We try to advocate for the environment in ways that draw us together rather than divide us. We support exhibitors and their diverse efforts to provide factual information to our citizens. Thank you for helping clarify the mission of Sound Water Stewards.

Sound Water Stewards is greatly appreciative of the ongoing support for Sound Waters University within our community. The SWU team is already beginning to plan for next Feb. 6, 2021. SWU is a labor of love produced completely with volunteer support. A big thank you goes to the entire SWU 2020 team for another outstanding event.

Linda Ade Ridder

SWS board president

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