Help Save the Post Point Herons

$6,365 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 93 people in 20 days

                                   The herons need a good lawyer.

The City of Bellingham planning department has awarded a Critical Areas Permit to a developer for two building sites within the critical area denoted by the Great Blue Heron colony, the sloped bluff to the shoreline, and the restored lagoon at Post Point.  The sites are partially within and adjacent to, the established 197-foot protective buffer surrounding the  heron colony.  This buffer is the minimum recommended by the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, the regulatory body for Priority Species, including Great Blue Herons, and was enacted by the city as part of its 2003 heron management plan.

These particular herons arrived at Post Point in 2000 after being flushed out of their nesting colony on Chuckanut Bay for the development of the "Blue Heron Estates."  To our great delight, the current colony is growing with 44 active nests recorded during the 2018 nesting season.

The Critical Areas Permit constitutes a variance to the city's Critical Areas Ordinance which was designed to protect and conserve natural, sensitive areas such as wetlands and wildlife habitat.  Although it's true that the Post Point herons have endured enormous pressures such as the nearby railroad track and off-leash dog park, they can still be very sensitive to human disturbance.  There is no science to tell us whether the proposed development of the "Heronwood Plat" will be the human trigger that sends the city's only heron colony packing.  Where will they go?  And what a loss to all of us of this unique natural treasure.

                                     The herons need a good lawyer.

To its credit, the city has spent over $400,000 to protect the heron colony on its northern flank adjacent to the water treatment plant.  And now we risk losing that investment as well as the herons themselves by allowing a housing development right on the colony's southern flank on Shorewood Drive.  Furthermore, the removal of large trees on the plat will likely undermine the all-important buffer against  the south prevailing winds which the herons cannot tolerate.

There are serious flaws in the mitigation plan submitted by the developer to offset the risks associated with the "Heronwood Plat" project.  These flaws pose unacceptable risk to the heron colony and form the basis of an appeal of the Critical Areas Permit filed by me, with the North Cascades Audubon Society and the Mount Baker Group/Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club petitioning to be additional parties to the appeal.  Across the table from us will be two attorneys, one for the City of Bellingham and one for the landowner, as well as the developer.

                                   The herons need a good lawyer.

We are raising money to help defray the costs of hiring local attorney, Phil Buri , to represent us and the herons through the upcoming appeal process before the city Hearing Examiner.  Thwarting the Critical Areas Permit is an urgent first step to ensuring true and permanent protection for our city's only remaining Great Blue Heron colony.  And we will work for a lasting solution so that the herons are protected, there is no threat of further development encroaching upon their remaining habitat, and the owner of the property is satisfied with whatever deal emerges.

Please give what you can, as soon as you can.  We are getting our legal arguments, exhibits, and witnesses ready for the upcoming hearing, now tentatively scheduled for late July. We thank you most sincerely, and the herons would too, if they could speak a language we understood.

Thanks to Nancy Downing and Linda Wright Photography for the photos of the Great Blue Herons on the nest at Post Point and down at Marine Park.

With gratitude,

Jamie K. Donaldson
Audubon and Sierra Club member
Member, Fairhaven Neighbors
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Today we met our first deadline on the long march to the Hearing Examiner (a heron just flew overhead as I wrote this-- no kidding). Our lawyer Phil Buri submitted the "Supplemental Statement of Issues" which describes what sections of the Bellingham municipal code were in error in the awarding of a Critical Areas Permit to build right by the heron colony. Thank you again to all who share a fondness for these wonderful birds who have endured a lot to stay put at Post Point. And thanks most sincerely for your contributions to the herons' legal fund. Onward!
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What synchronicity! Today, May 13, the Bellingham Herald had a front page article about the Great Blue Heron colony and yet another threat to it, alas. https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article230077094.html
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Thanks so much to those who have chipped in so far! Please keep spreading the word. There is a new update about this issue on www.nwcitizen.com

I have revised the goal downward to reflect donations that are coming in offline. By the way, the goal was set at the mid-way cost of legal representation for a Hearing Examiner's case of this type. We hope that we do not have to raise the full amount of this goal. In the event we do not, and there is an excess, I will contact the donors who donated after we reached the necessary amount of funds and offer to either return the donation via check, or have it donated to local Audubon and Sierra Club groups.
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$6,365 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 93 people in 20 days
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