STEWARDS OF THE ENVIRONMENT

26 Sep, 2017

By Robert Wilkes

Here is one view of marinas as stewards of the environment:

'Marinas are businesses and are all about making money like other businesses. They will cut corners and look the other way where the environment is concerned rather than spend the energy, time and money to proactively protect it. Marina operators don’t have the training or just don’t care enough to put in the hard work of environmental stewardship. Marinas and the boats in them are loaded with noxious chemicals that leach into the water, pollute the environment and kill marine life. Boat owners are ‘one-percenters’ with big gas tanks and large carbon footprints who chuck garbage over the side and are a threat to clean water and sensitive marine life.

Now that I’ve got your attention and the hair standing up on the back of your neck, we can at least agree these attitudes and beliefs exist. But this dismal picture is not true, not even close. When it comes to sustainability, clean water, habitat development and every other aspect of marine ecology, marinas and boat owners are doing a great job. They are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and competent stewards of the environment.

We have a deep and persistent perception problem. These false impressions can and do influence decisions by coastal planning boards and regulatory and permitting authorities, especially when they are under pressure from watchdog environmental groups.

Heather Page, principal environmental planner for Anchor QEA, said environmental activists in Washington State travel about looking for violations of the State’s Shoreline Code. Among other things, they look for proper setbacks, view obstruction, public access or development that shouldn’t be where it is. As a result, marinas are difficult to develop in Washington State. If we could convince the public that marinas are a net positive for the environment, more marina developments could be built and the ones that are built could be permitted much faster.

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