Northwest Natural Resources Group: Best Practices for a New Year

The Northwest Natural Resource Group recently published a newsletter explaining some Best Practices for forest management in 2018! The video below is a message from Kirk Hanson the Forestry director of Northwest Natural Resource Group.

You can do many simple things to make your forest attract more wildlife, provide recreation, and contribute to its own upkeep. As you plan for the new year, remember your forest and learn more about these fun and productive stewardship practices to improve its health and enhance its beauty. Getting out in the woods is also good for your own well-being!

Get to Know Your Forest – becoming familiar with your forest and tracking changes over time can provide insight into the workings and needs of your land. Keep an eye out for: tree species and abundance, tree size and age, seedlings and saplings, understory growth, dead and down wood, wildlife indicators, streams and wetlands, and trail and road conditions.

Enrich Habitat – many landowner actions can make their forest more wildlife friendly, by keeping or creating dead wood, protecting water bodies, planting forage shrubs, installing nesting boxes, and growing an assortment of trees at varying densities.

Provide Dead Wood – in areas with less than 4 down logs and 4 snags per acre, consider creating them or building habitat piles and constructed logs.

Control Invasives – weeds can completely take over the forest understory, crowding out native plants. Learn to identify invasive plants and apply the ideal control method to weed them out!

Protect Soils – you can increase soil nutrients in the forest by retaining or planting hardwoods, retaining organic debris on the forest floor, and using heavy equipment only during the dry season.

Thin Dense Stands – areas crowded with stressed trees may need thinning to restore the light and space needed for healthy growth. Remove suppressed trees with small diameters, defects, or a live crown less than 30% of total height. Thin trees to a density of about 250-300 trees per acre (12-15 feet between trees). 

Check out our new handout, Do-It-Yourself Ways to Steward a Healthy, Beautiful Forest, for tips and tricks on applying these practices in your forest!

Bill Gate's Blog on Climate Change

Bill Gate's Blog GATESNOTES has recently posted a blog entry on Signs of Progress on climate change. To view the original article please click here. 


4 signs of progress on climate change

By Bill Gates 

| December 12, 2017

I’m in Paris for the big meeting on climate change hosted by President Macron. Leaders from around the world are here to take stock of the progress the world is making on this urgent challenge.

This is a pivotal moment. We need to adapt to the climate change that is already affecting the planet, and develop new tools that will keep the problem from getting worse. Innovation is key to doing both. Scientific advances in crop science, for example, will help farmers deal with changing weather patterns. And energy research will make it possible to power modern life—the way we live, work, travel, and make things—without adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The good news is that there’s a lot of progress to report on both fronts. Here’s an overview of the developments I’ll be highlighting in Paris.

More partners are chipping in on clean energy. The world needs to invest much more in energy research than it has been. Two years ago, 20 countries launched an effort called Mission Innovation in which they committed to doubling their spending on energy R&D by 2020. Today, Mission Innovation has grown to 23 members, raising the group’s total commitment to more than $30 billion.

The growing list of partners also includes the private sector. In 2015 we started the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors who are supporting entrepreneurs working on new sources of clean energy. Today the BEC is adding 15 companies, banks, funds, and institutional investors. The members of the BEC have committed billions of dollars to creating new energy companies and commercializing new energy products.

Just as important, we’ll also be working to speed up the pace of progress. The world can’t afford to wait the decades that it usually takes to develop promising technology, find investors, connect with governments willing to roll it out, and reach customers. Our goal is to bring ideas out of the lab and into the market much faster.

That’s why I’m excited that these partners are working together like never before. Public and private funding for energy research often isn’t coordinated, which is one reason some promising technologies never make it to market. The members of Mission Innovation and the BEC will bridge that gap. They’ll work together to match cutting-edge scientists in government labs with investors who can help turn their ideas into products. They’ll also partner with governments to make it easier to create and deploy new tools. As a first step, the BEC will work with four countries—Canada, Mexico, France, and the United Kingdom—as well as the European Commission on ways to coordinate public and private efforts.

Our $1 billion clean-energy investment fund is up and running. Breakthrough Energy Ventures has hired a staff of accomplished investors, company builders, scientists, and technologists. They have identified five areas that are especially promising but also underfunded. This is where we will focus our investments:


  • Grid-scale storage. One reason renewables haven’t been more widely adopted is that storing energy for later use—for example, when it’s dark or the wind isn’t blowing—is expensive. Breakthroughs in storage—for example, storing energy as heat or in flywheels—would make today’s renewable technology more practical and affordable.
  • Liquid fuels. We might be able to use sunlight to create fuels that could power airplanes, trucks, and other big polluters without adding more carbon to the atmosphere. (Earlier this year I wrote about my visit to one lab that’s doing exciting work in this area.)
  • Mini-grids. These networks can deliver electricity locally—say, to a neighborhood or village—without being connected to a centralized grid. That would make them especially useful in poor regions, like parts of Africa and India, where larger grids aren’t practical.
  • Alternative building materials. Making concrete and steel produces a lot of greenhouse gases. To construct all the buildings we’ll need by 2050, we need new carbon-neutral building materials for homes and offices.
  • Geothermal power. There is a phenomenal amount of energy stored up as heat under the Earth’s surface—many times more than we could get from all the known coal and oil reserves in the world. Tapping this source involves pumping steam or hot water from underground to drive turbines.

Small farmers are getting more help. Roughly 800 million poor people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia rely on agriculture for their food and income. As the climate warms and the weather becomes more unpredictable, their crops will become dramatically less productive—and could be wiped out altogether. As many as 200 million people may be forced to migrate to regions where they can grow enough to survive.

Innovation can help prevent that kind of catastrophe. For our part, the Gates Foundation is investing in three areas that developing countries have said are especially crucial. One is improving crops—for example, developing varieties that yield more food, so farmers can get more for the work they put in. The second is protecting crops by making them able to resist diseases and tolerate the droughts and floods that will become more frequent. The third area is giving farmers more advanced ways to manage crops in a changing climate—helping them analyze their soil, for example, or use water more efficiently. And because progress depends on brilliant researchers contributing their talents, we’re also co-funding a fellowship program that will train 600 African and European scientists. All told, we will spend more than $300 million in these areas over the next three years.

Of course, our work is only part of the effort to spark innovation that helps farmers adapt to a changing climate. The European Commission is also committing more than $300 million over the next three years, bringing the total to over $600 million in new money through 2020.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on. I’m optimistic that if we keep up this momentum, we can stop climate change and help those who are being hurt the most by it—all while meeting the world’s growing energy needs.

If you want to receive updates, sign up to become a Gates Notes Insider.

4 Tips to Improve Electric Vehicle Battery Range this Winter

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The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy posted an article today that we thought might help some of San Juan County's Electric Vehicle drivers get the best possible range during the 2017/18 Winter. To see the original article click here

Electric vehicle (EV) batteries charge by moving ions through a liquid electrolyte. As the temperatures outside drop, the electrolyte in lithium ion EV batteries thickens and it becomes more difficult for ions to move through (much like the challenge of walking through snow versus dry pavement). This increased resistance results in less EV battery range as more energy is needed for each ion to move. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay warm and improve your EV range. Below are four tips to get the most out of your EV battery this winter.

Warm the battery/cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in. By leaving your vehicle plugged in, you use electricity from the grid to get it warmed up, rather than drawing energy from your battery. Once you hit the road, there’s more battery charge left available for driving.

Use your vehicle’s heated accessories. Heated accessories (steering wheel, seats, etc.) use less energy than heating the entire cabin. In addition, the warmth on your backside and fingers can minimize the amount of cabin heat needed to make you and your passengers feel comfortable.

Practice eco-driving. Using eco-driving techniques can help get the most out of your range all year round.  Some eco-driving tips include watching your speed, minimizing hard starts, and maximizing your regenerative braking by coasting when possible and depressing the brake pedal gradually, when needed. Visit for more EV eco-driving tips.

 Be sure to brush off your car before driving.  Snow or ice on your vehicle adds extra weight that your battery has to drag along and increases aerodynamic drag by changing your vehicle’s profile. Since EVs don’t produce waste heat from the engine, snow on your hood will stay put if you don’t brush it off before your start your trip.

 Use these simple tips to stretch your EV range this winter. To learn more about electric vehicle, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

New study shows solar and wind energy less expensive than Hydrocarbons/Nuclear

The online news site ThinkProgress has rescently posted an article mentioning A widely-used yearly benchmarking study — the Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) from the financial firm Lazard Ltd. — reached this stunning conclusion: In many regions “the full-lifecycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear.”

To read the full article click the link below.

New Video - Growing a Revolution - Dr. David Montgomery

We've added a new video to our Video section! Growing a Revolution by Dr. David Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery gave a fantastic lecture at the Friday Harbor Brickworks about the importance of soil revitalization, no till drilling and what role soil conservation plays in the rise and fall of societies! 

A Special thanks to Brickworks, the San Juan Island Agricultural Guild and Griffin Bay Bookstore for helping us make such an awesome event possible! 

State of the Ocean: Understanding effects from climate and Humans

On August 3rd, 2017, Dr. Jan Newton gave a talk on "The State of the Ocean: Understanding effects from climate and humans" to a packed audience at Brickworks in Friday Harbor, WA. Jan Newton is a principal oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington, and an affiliate assistant professor in both the UW School of Oceanography and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Jan serves as co-director of the recently established Washington Ocean Acidification Center, which operates from the College of the Environment and fosters connections among researchers, policymakers, industry, and others to address key priorities established by the state legislature concerning ocean acidification. She also is the executive director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), which is part of a broader program of Integrated Ocean Observing Systems throughout the United States. Jan's expertise is in biological oceanography, and her work focuses on the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, including understanding effects from climate and humans on water properties.

San Juan Islands License Plate E-Signature

If you haven't already signed the Petition for establishing a San Juan Islands Specialty License Plate through the Washington State Department of Licensing, now you can from the comfort of your home! Head over to and read up on the simple 2 step process. Just fill out the form and watch your e-mail! Once you get an E-mail from SJI License Plate, they will ask you to provide your Electronic Signature and follow a few steps. Once complete you will have signed the Petition! 

The License plate program; which goes to fund stewardship programs in the San Juan Islands needs 3500 signatures to be considered for production and sale! Sign up today!

Volvo Makes a Highly Charged Announcement

Volvo Press Release taken from Volvo website

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, has announced that every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.

The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history.

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

Volvo Cars will introduce a portfolio of electrified cars across its model range, embracing fully electric cars, plug in hybrid cars and mild hybrid cars.

It will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which will be high performance electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm. Full details of these models will be announced at a later date.

These five cars will be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug in hybrid and mild hybrid 48 volt options on all models, representing one of the broadest electrified car offerings of any car maker.

This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor, as pure ICE cars are gradually phased out and replaced by ICE cars that are enhanced with electrified options.

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Mr Samuelsson. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1m electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”

The announcement underlines Volvo Cars’ commitment to minimizing its environmental impact and making the cities of the future cleaner. Volvo Cars is focused on reducing the carbon emissions of both its products as well as its operations. It aims to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025.

The decision also follows this month’s announcement that Volvo Cars will turn Polestar into a new separately-branded electrified global high performance car company. Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Cars, will lead Polestar as Chief Executive Officer.

Bee Better Certified

Bees and other pollinators touch our lives every day in ways we may not realize. They are responsible for as much as one third of the food and drinks that we consume, and contribute to the production of our clothes. They help define our seasons: the flowering meadows of spring, the berries of summer, the pumpkins we carve for Halloween and eat at Thanksgiving. 

Please check out the Bee Better Certified website to learn more about how you can help



Community Solar Information Request

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Community Solar Info Request Sign Up

Did you know that the San Juan Islands will soon have a renewable Energy Program that you will be able to sign up for from our Local Energy Cooperative OPALCO?! The Community Solar Project will generate Solar Energy that you can use in your home without having to have Solar Panels placed on your roof! 

If you would like to be kept informed on the New OPALCO Community Solar Program please fill out the below information. We will send you information regarding availability, pricing plans, benefits and incentives as soon as they are available.

All information is Private and confidential and will not be shared with any source outside of The San Juan Islands Conservation District and Orcas Power and Light Cooperative.

Name *
Contact Number
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The First EV Car Show was a HUGE success!

The San Juan Islands Conservation District would like to thank everyone who participated in the First Annual Friday Harbor EV Car Show! We had almost 300 Attendees, 22 Different EVs and many other Electric forms of Transportation! The Weather wasn't as cooperative as we would have hoped, but that didn't stop Islanders from showing up in droves! 

If you would like to know more about EVs in the San Juans please contact Ryan Palmateer at 360-378-6621 or Email

If you are interested in information on the newly forming San Juan County Electric Auto Association please E-mail 


Below is just a sample of the all the EVs that were on display! Click to enlarge

2017's New Line Up of Electric Vehicles

Here at the San Juan Island Conservation District, we are all a little nuts about Electric Vehicles. We thought it would be fun to put together a list of some of the newest 2017 EV's that have caught our attention in one way or another. In no particular order, we would like to present some of the newest innovations, interesting designed and over all coolness factor boasting EV's and Plug in Hybrids of 2017. Keep reading after the cars to see what rebates, incentives and other offers are available to you if you are thinking about switching! 


2017 Chevy - Bolt

Range - 238 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP - From $36,620 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The Sporty Bolt already has a long list of accolades. The 2017 Motor Trend car of the year, the 2017 Green Car of the year and the 2017 North American Car of the Year. with it's awesome 238 mile Estimated range, the Chevy Bolt easily offers the Best "Range Per Mile" in any All Electric Platform. With an impressive 266 lb./ft. of torque, the Bolt gets up to 60mph in about 6.5 seconds. The Bolt also offers a "One Pedal Driving" mode, where taking your off the accelerator will slow the vehicle while simultaneously collecting the stopping energy to help regenerate your battery.  




2017* Tesla - Model 3

Range - 215 Miles Per 100% charge (EST)

MSRP - 35,000 (EST) (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The Tesla model 3 is arguably one of the most anticipated Automobiles in recent memory. This car was designed to attain the highest safety rating in every category, it has a 0-60mph in under 6 seconds, sits 5, has the ability to fully charge in under 30 minutes (Given you have a Super Charger) Autopilot options are available as well. The only down side is that if you haven't already reserved your 2017 Tesla 3, you will be waiting until 2018 before you can get yours.



2017 Kia - Soul EV

Range - 93 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP- $32,250 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The 2017 Kia Soul EV is as thoughtful as it is charming with the Worlds First UL (Underwriters Laboratories) validated for Environmental recognition. This means that more than 10% of the Soul EV contains Bio-Based Organic Carbon Content. This also means less VOC, with BTX Free and water-borne paints, you are going to have better air quality. Not to mention the almost 100 Miles of All electric range that recharges in under 5 hours with a 240v Charging station.





2017 Nissan - Leaf

Range - 107 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP - $30,680 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

A San Juan Island Favorite re-imagined for a changing industry. The New and Improved Leaf Battery system charges quicker and goes longer, giving the new Nissan Leaf an Estimated 107 Miles per Charge. As the least expensive all Electric Option on the Market since 2010, the Nissan leaf has really opened the door to Electric Vehicles for a very large amount of Drivers including OPALCO and The San Juan Islands Conservation District. For Island Driving, it's hard to beat a Leaf. However, Long Distance or Off Island trips may require a few stops to recharge a long the way. 





2017 Hyundai - Ioniq

Range - 110 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP - $29,500 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq (Pronounced Eye_on-ick) is the first All Electric Offering from Hyundai. Coming in at under the cost of the New Nissan Leaf, you will probably be seeing a lot of the new Ioniq's on the road shortly. Ioniq also comes in a Plug In Electric Hybrid and Standard Hybrid model, giving the new Hyundai a lot of versatility for customization. 


2017 Toyota - Prius Prime (PHEV) 

Range - 25 Miles Battery Only, 11.3 Gallon Gas Tank

MSRP - $27,100 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The New Prius Prime is the first (Plug-In Hybrid) Prius This means, you can make use of the 25 Mile all electric range without ever switching on your gas tank. Perfect for the daily commuter car, or Island drive. However, if you need to go long range, the 11.3 Gallon Gas Tank will take you the rest of the way. This car is perfect for anyone wanting to transition into EV. Also great for Islanders who every so often take a long trip off Island, but for a vast majority of the time, stay within the All electric 25 mile range limit. 






2017 Fiat - 500e

Range - 87 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP - $32,995 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The Fiat 500e prides itself on it's styling, its form factor and it's interior design. Fiat calls it "Eco-Chic." However, if you want one, it's going to require a trip south for now, as they are only currently available in select Fiat Locations in Oregon and California. Seeing one on the Island will prove that it's driver is very committed to The Environment and Fashion sense.






2017 Mitsubishi - i-MiEV

Range - 62 Miles Per 100% Charge

MSRP- $22,995 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

By far the least expensive All Electric Vehicle on our 2017 List, however it  has the lowest range as well at 62 Miles per charge. The Mitsubishi iMiEV is a perfect Island-EV for the more cost conscious driver.  The unique styling of the iMiEV makes itself well known that it isn't your ordinary vehicle. 





2017 BMW - i3 (PHEV)

Range - 80 - 114 Miles per 100% Charge, 2.4 Gallon Tank @ 

MSRP - $42,000 - 47,450 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The BMW i3 is an EV unto it's own. Technically a hybrid but in a radically different way. In all electric mode you will get a range of 110ish miles, but when you turn on the "range boost" option, a 2 gallon gasoline tank turns on and much like a generator burns gas and converts it to electricity allowing for an all electric drive train. boosting the i3's range to 180 miles. With seats for 4, the interior cabin panels can be rearranged to allow for spacious cabin or an extremely spacious cabin. 





2017 Mercedes Benz - B Class

Range - 85 Miles on 100% Charge

MSRP - $39,900 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

Classic Mercedes Quality in an all new Electric package. With seating for 5 and ample storage, the B Class is more on the side of a Cross-Over / SUV than Sedan. The B Class also comes with Radar based regenerative braking. This means that the B Class watches traffic ahead of the cars position and applies the brakes to capture the optimal amount of energy. 







2017 Chevy - Volt (PHEV)

Range - 53 Miles Per 100% Charge + 8.9 Gallon Gas Tank (367 Gas Range)

MSRP - $33,220 (Before Rebates & Incentives)

The Ultimate Short Range / Long Range Hybrid. 53 mile range for pure electric driving, which would work perfectly for Island driving without needing to ever use a single drop of gasoline. An additional 367 Mile range is added when using the Gas engine which is perfect for Long trips. To put that in perspective, with a full charge on the battery and a full tank of Gas, you could get off the Ferry in Anacortes, drive to Portland Oregon and make it all the way back up to Seattle  again before you would need to refuel and recharge. For people who are concerned with the "Once and awhile I need to make a really long trip" but on a vast majority of the time stay within the area 30 mile commute range, the Chevy Volt may just the the answer you are looking for. 


Now that you have either consciously or sub-consciously selected your favorite EV from our list, lets break down a few of the Rebates, Incentives and other awesome reasons for making the switch! We'll start with the most obvious.


Cost per Mile

EV's are much better for the environment and air quality but first and foremost they are the absolute best thing for your wallet. Electric Charging is a FRACTION of the cost over traditional fuel. Even if you go with a Hybrid Electric vehicle, you will spend radically less time pumping gas per mile of distance traveled.  With San Juan County boasting the highest Public EV charger density per population (roughly 1 charger per every 1,000 residents) not even counting personal home/garage EV chargers, The San Juan Islands are one of the most friendly places in the United States to have an EV!


Federal Tax Rebate (Up to $7500)

All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle. That's HUGE! to learn more please


Washington State Tax Exemption

As of July 1, 2016, Washington State if you buy or lease a new passenger car, light duty truck or medium duty passenger vehicle that is either Full Electric or Plug in Hybrid Electric (PHEV) you may be eligiable for a 100% Tax Exemption. What's great about tax exemptions is that there is no waiting, you simply don't pay any sales. For a full listing of all the available vehicles for tax exemption please visit Washington State DOL to learn more!


OPALCO EV Charging Station Rebate

Already have an EV?  Want to charge it at home? OPALCO is offering a rebate to place a Level 2 Charging Station at your home – up to $500!  Apart from heating your home, your car’s internal combustion engine uses more energy than anything else you use.  Why not replace it with an EV that fuels up at a fraction of the cost and has a significantly reduced environmental impact? please visit OPALCO's EV Charging Rebate page to learn more!