Welcome. I live on the west side of San Juan Island in the magnificent Salish Sea, one of Planet Earth’s “Last Best Places”. After 17 years of exploration, this place is still as fresh and tantalizing to me as the day I arrived. Like you, I came looking for beauty and adventure. Over time, my sense of place has grown, and today, it roots me to this amazing and dynamic ecosystem.
A Last Best Place has a sense of urgency about it. It is “best” by a loosely agreed upon concept of a singular ecosystem which has immense beauty and rare biodiversity. It is “last” because all such places are threatened. Both words describe the Salish Sea.
The San Juan islands, the southern part of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands lie in the heart of the Salish Sea. This is the the transboundary hub of a larger ecosystem which contains Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. From the San Juan Islands, you see the seamless water and quickly understand that the border is invisible to marine species and to environmental issues.
Four mountain ranges call from every angle: The U.S. Cascades and Olympics; the Canadian Coast Range and the southern Beaufort Range of Vancouver Island. You have to look carefully at the horizon to discern cloud from snow-topped peak. Fresh water tumbles through landscapes of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Madrona and hemlock, shore pine, juniper, Garry Oak, alder and willow to the salty shoreline. Our moderate temperature is a gift of the warm Japanese current and prevailing moisture laden western winds. Our extraordinary biodiversity supports a food web from plankton to the top predators in the sea, the orca whales. It is a place of immeasurable elegance. Join me on a discovery of one of Planet Earth’s Last Best Places.