Protect the Salish Sea

The Salish Sea is woven into our lives here in the San Juan Islands. We know beauty as we look across the sea at layered islands and we appreciate the clarity of the water as sunlight dapples its depths. Walk in any direction across forests and fields and you’ll reach the rugged cliffs or wave-tossed beaches at the edges of the Salish Sea. It’s easy to love this place.

What we also understand, living here, is that all is not as it seems. The fish don’t show up like they used to. The orca rarely swim these waters without a crush of paparazzi whale watching boats and we know that the southern resident orca are dying. Starving, according to reports. Meanwhile, shipping traffic increases, crowding ocean-bound passages. Oil tankers, loaded deep, navigate these complicated and narrow waterways, one mishap away from unimaginable devastation.

Why Community Rights for San Juan County?

How do we protect what we love; this place, our families, the orca, the salmon, eagles and raven, the many species that make the Salish Sea home?

How do we safeguard that which we depend on?

Our group, Community Rights San Juan Islands, has been exploring these questions. We recognize that existing laws too often favor corporations and neglect community concerns. Witness communities in America that find they can’t refuse toxic waste pits and fracking wells, even when these industrial projects pollute their water and air.  These are painful cautionary tales and we want our story to go differently.    

Community Rights San Juan Islands is working to ensure that our community has the right to say “No” to harmful industries and impacts and to say “Yes” to a healthy ecosystem.

We are working to bring an initiative forward that recognizes the rights of the Salish Sea to survive and thrive. We understand that our well-being is tied to the health of the Salish Sea and that we need to shift our relationship to the natural world, from seeing nature simply as property to recognizing that nature and every creature it supports has the right to exist independent of our wants and desires.

Around the world, the Rights of Nature movement is gaining momentum: Ecuador; New Zealand; Nepal; Colombia; Sweden; Bolivia; Tamaqua and Pittsburgh, PA; Toledo, OH; and Lane County, OR have all recognized rights of nature and community rights in their laws. All these achievements were hard fought, and all have been challenged in some way, so we are beginning this initiative process knowing we are in it for the long haul.

We believe it is a journey worth taking; that must act now to prevent oil spills, increased air pollution, plastic contamination and other perils that threaten the Salish Sea.


We must no longer treat the natural environment as merely an economic asset. 

We must stop climate change. 

We must prevent industry from ravaging the land and sea.

We must assert our rights and honor our responsibilities to protect the natural communities of the Salish Sea.

About Us

Community Rights San Juan Islands is a non-profit group working on The Rights of the Salish Sea initiative to bring Community Rights and Rights of Nature to San Juan County.

Community Rights: the right to say “no” to harmful industries and their impacts, and the right to say “yes” to a healthy ecosystem.

Rights of Nature: Recognizing the right of the Salish Sea watershed and natural communities to exist and flourish.

Why? Because as residents of the Salish Sea region, we share a responsibility to protect the relationships we have with the life-giving water and land that surrounds us.

Check out our Videos page for more about us.


Join us!

Come to a bi-weekly work meeting: lopezrocks.org for schedule and meeting announcements.

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Email: info@crsji.org

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