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CAO Open Letter To The County Council
Council Members,
I write this short letter as a private citizen. I am not speaking for any of the organizations I participate in or
work for.
This note addresses your upcoming deliberations on the FHWCA portions of CAO.
One of the fundamental relationships you must come to grips with is the balance between risk and reward for
all of the citizens of the county.
The risk is the extent of continual degradation of the habitats that create the ecosystem that is the driver of
our economy. Our tourism, whale watch, sportfishing, kayaking, second/summer home, and primary
retirement housing industries all exist because we live in such a beautiful and ecologically rich place.
The reward of conservation and protection tends to enhance the future value of those industries.
The reward of development is short term individual freedom and personal financial gain at the expense of the
ecosystem, and those industries that depend on the ecosystem.
It is my personal belief that our environment and therefore our way of life is dying the death of a thousand
cuts. Development interests like to talk about the resilience of natural systems insinuating that balancing the
risk/reward equation too heavily on the development side is a situation that can be recovered from. I do not
see a lot of science that supports that idea without incredible amounts of regulation and public money (eg the
millions spent on salmon recovery).
Balancing the risk/reward equation too heavily on the conservation/protection side tends to constrain
personal freedom and financial gain but benefits us all through the retention of our economic drivers.
I would like to urge you to not get side-tracked by all of the noise at the street level and concentrate on the
strategic position that you feel is the best balance of the risk/reward equation. To the extent that you define
the strategic position your staff and consultants will craft the products that make it real.
Our future really does depend on you.
Thanks for your time and efforts!
Jim Slocomb
San Juan Island
(Slocomb works for the Friends of the San Juans -Ed)