Thanks to reporter David Felice for acknowledging 30 years of consistent and painstaking work to protect our island environment by the Whidbey Environment Action Network, WEAN, in an Aug. 13 South Whidbey Record article.
If you’re ever wondering how Whidbey has been able to retain a rural environmental heritage amidst a decades-long booming Puget Sound growth pattern, the consistency and diligence of WEAN plays an enormous part.
WEAN started in the 80s around the time a semi-clandestine logging foray went after trees near the South Whidbey State Park. WEAN founders Steve Ericksen and Marianne Edain impeded the action, helped with injunctions and even organized the replanting of one clear cut, referred to as the Big Muddy.
The giant trees survived and can be found on the Harry Wilbert Trail bearing witness to what was saved back then, and Marianne has probably reviewed hundreds of logging permits since then.
Island County needed a plan so WEAN played a big part in getting a reluctant Island County to complete a Comprehensive Growth Plan per the 1990 State Growth Management. Lawsuits, four years of citizen activism and the threat of state sanctions preceded the adoption of an Island County plan in 1998.
The state wanted fast-growing counties to identify a future road and adopt land-use regulations to make that vision materialize. “Retain our rural character” became the Island County goal and appropriate regulations were enacted in response. Those legal battles mentioned in Felice’s article generally refer to WEAN efforts to enforce county compliance with our GMA plan over 30 years, and they’re probably batting over 80 percent in the win column.
Sure, they’ve stepped on some toes and thrown many a wrench into the status quo, but I suspect we’d not be living in this eye-popping haven of unique environmental assets without their decades of dedication. I spent eight years on the Island County Planning Commission, and WEAN was by far our most consistent public commentator.
They’ve never mastered the art, for lack of a better word, of compromise on issues of contention, but they always had the facts and data and never waffled on their stated mission — preservation of the Whidbey environment.
Most activities in life are compelled by some sort of profit motive, yet WEAN has no corporate sponsors or monied interest groups. They’re funded solely by donation from appreciative islanders, for all these years. I’d say we all owe them a big thank you and unfortunately, the need for such diligence continues today.