e are passionate about the natural environment, and dedicated to avoiding negative impacts to the fragile ecosystems already so stressed by the presence of the refineries. March Point, Fidalgo Bay, and Padilla Bay are home to the most significant heron colony in the Salish Sea and to eagles, seals, salmon and other important species. The area is also a key eelgrass habitat
–and eelgrass in turn is critical habitat for young salmon and herring.
To ensure the safety of these ecosystems:
1We will be giving all participants information on avoiding sensitive
areas in order to minimize the impact on eelgrass and on herons during their sensitive nesting season. This information includes specific details (e.g., no watercraft in the map’s red zone; no watercraft in Swinomish Channel; launching of non-trailered paddle craft only from Seafarer’s Park, and at low tides only from the boat dock; and launching of most trailered boats from Washington Park.).2All foot and vehicle traffic related to Break Free will be on the west side of March Point only
during our events. We will post volunteers near the boat launch under SR-20, at the intersection of N. Texas Road and March’s Point Rd., and on the east side of the rally at the tip of March Point, so that participants don’t approach the sensitive areas.3Water-based participants will attend a briefing
about these restrictions
before getting on the water.4
We are asking for NO air traffic over the red area
, and none below 600 feet in the yellow area
when the tide is at 2.5 feet or less, see map below
. We are communicating with both media and police regarding the use of helicopters, because the worst disturbance to herons or any nesting birds is aircraft, including drones that fly over or near their nests or feeding grounds.These recommendations came directly from the Skagit Heron Foraging Study Team. Thus far, KING 5 TV has indicated a willingness to respect these restrictions; KOMO TV has been unwilling to make promises. We will continue to work with the former, and press the latter. TV stations Q13 and KIRO 7 do not have access to helicopters on weekends.
We are wholly behind these restrictions, and will do all we can to enforce them–especially at mid and low tide when the eelgrass and mudflat are exposed. Local people have been working for decades to restore these habitats, and are understandably concerned, so we’re working closely with local biologists, fishermen, the Swinomish Tribe, community groups, and the Skagit Heron Foraging Study Team, and we’ve revised our action plans to respect these concerns. For more information, please see this document from the Skagit Heron Foraging Study Team.