Stewarding our natural resources a priority for Mayor and community

As a lifelong Bellingham resident, I share the community’s strong commitment to stewarding our natural environment.  These values are reflected in the City's Legacies and Strategic Commitments, interwoven into the City’s day-to-day work, and an important part of my personal vision.  My vision is a community that can rely on safe drinking water, clean air, … Read more

Apr 05, 2013 - by Mayor Kelli Linville

As a lifelong Bellingham resident, I share the community’s strong
commitment to stewarding our natural environment.  These values are
reflected in the City's Legacies and Strategic Commitments, interwoven into
the City’s day-to-day work, and an important part of my personal vision.  My
vision is a community that can rely on safe drinking water, clean air,
healthy ecosystems and accessible natural places, protected in perpetuity at
a price we can afford and that all our residents can enjoy.

As Mayor, I have taken steps that are consistent with these values.  One
example is that we have changed how we manage and deliver the City's natural
resources services, combining our environmental resources, stormwater and
watershed restoration programs into a single Natural Resources Division
within the Public Works Department. We have placed the leadership of this
new division at the Assistant Director level and charged the Public Works
Director and new Assistant Director to more effectively align the delivery
of these services.  This new effort takes advantage of the excellent work
that has been accomplished to date and adds both resources and focus, to
help ensure that we keep our community’s natural resources needs in the
forefront each and every day.

The environmental challenges we face are substantial. They include the
following top priorities:

  • Reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the Lake Whatcom
    Reservoir;
  • Removing sources of fecal coliform bacteria from the banks of our
    creeks and streams;
  • Meeting increasingly rigorous state and federal stormwater
    requirements;
  • Restoring the ability of our waterways to convey floodwaters;
  • Cleaning up contaminated industrial sites;
  • Rebuilding habitats that support wild salmon and other species.

In coming years you will see these challenges addressed in the Lake
Whatcom Reservoir, Bellingham Bay, Squalicum Creek, Padden Creek, in our
City Parks, and around our public facilities.

Mastering these challenges will require persistence and substantial
investments in people, organizations, capital projects and technology. While
our shared values and commitment inspire us to pursue this work, my
responsibility as Mayor also requires careful stewardship of taxpayer
dollars. We will make difficult decisions about priorities, and we will take
bold steps forward.

Making progress on these challenges also requires partnerships with other
elected officials, governments and organizations, community and business
leaders and City and County residents. There are many examples around our
community of how we are already working together to meet our natural
resources challenges:

  • Projects to reduce phosphorus entering the Lake Whatcom Reservoir
    continue forward at an aggressive pace.  Whatcom County Executive Jack
    Louws and I recently endorsed a new joint project to treat and
    infiltrate stormwater near the City/County line at Academy Street. This
    is just one of dozens of projects and activities in progress this year
    by the City, the County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to
    protect and restore the source of our drinking water.
  • The Lake Whatcom Management Program's Aquatic Invasive Species
    initiative currently underway reduces the risk of unmanageable and
    costly infestations of noxious shellfish that affect drinking water
    delivery, recreational beaches and natural shorelines. This effort and
    others like it also are the result of the strong partnership between the
    City, Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District.
  • Projects are underway at Squalicum Creek and Padden Creek to restore
    wildlife corridors, remove barriers to fish passage, improve water
    quality, and reduce flooding impacts while enhancing community access to
    natural experiences.
  • Ongoing research and collaboration between the City and others is
    uncovering beneficial changes to how we manage pet waste and stormwater
    in and around the Lake Padden community.   

I invite you to learn more about these and many other natural resources
efforts by exploring the City of Bellingham website at
www.cob.org or by contacting my office. Our
efforts to care for our natural resources are consistent with our
community’s long history of thoughtful and effective environmental
stewardship. I have positioned City government to work with our partners and
stakeholders to make meaningful and measurable progress toward a clean,
protected source of drinking water, a healthy bay and restored streams and
public areas – important steps forward that serve us today and long into the
future.

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