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Save the Whales

Skagit is a land of wild rivers, soaring glacier peaks, fertile valleys and forested dots of islands sprinkling an inland sea. Powerful predatory whales live in these waters and feed on the tastiest wild fish on earth, the Chinook. Ours is as exotic as any landscape on the planet, and perhaps it is more threatened than many.

Those whales—the southern resident orcas—aren’t especially shy and can be viewed almost daily, although their numbers are in precipitous decline. Deaths in their pods have exceeded live births, threatening a spiral to extinction. They’re sick, and they’re starving. The cause? Increased human activity around the Puget Sound, as a region that is loved too much and too recklessly.

Alarmed by the decline of these iconic creatures, the Washington Legislature this session passed sweeping protections for the Salish Sea’s ailing orca population. Championed by lawmakers who represent Skagit and the San Juans, a quartet of bills cover a variety of measures, including whale watching, pollution and more. Yet budgets passed by the House and Senate so far contain no funding to continue the governor’s task force on orca recovery. There’s no agreement on plans to increase Chinook runs. And revenue measures to help pay for everything, from increasing hatchery production to enforcement of habitat protections, have yet to be decided.

As we dedicate this issue to celebrate all the best our region has to offer in scenic beauty, in recreation, in menus and samplings that are unique to who we are, let us acknowledge how fragile it is and how fierce we must be in its protection.

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Spring Fever

Recreating at Northern State

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Quilted clouds skidded low overhead and precipitation seemed imminent as I pulled into the trailhead at Northern State Recreation Area just north of Highway 20 near Sedro-Woolley. 

I’d come to reacquaint myself with this historically significant 726-acre agricultural site that supplied meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit to Northern State Hospital from 1912-1973 and is now a Skagit County park.    

When I stepped out of the car, hundreds of songbirds were whistling and warbling…

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Pick and Go Silver Reef

Tulip Tour

Leave room for ice cream

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The joke in Skagit Valley around this time of year is that it’s not tulips we’re celebrating, but the Skagit Traffic Festival. Hours on the freeway can easily be followed by hours sitting on rural backroads in bumper-to-bumper backups, especially on a sunny weekend when the fields are in full bloom. A spot to stop, get a bite to eat and stretch the legs is always welcome.

For visitors taking the Fir Island route from Conway, the natural first stop is Snow Goose Produce (

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Silver Reef House

Spring Fling

The view at River Gallery

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Skagit Valley boasts great scenery, world-class farming and a thriving arts culture. And in the valley no place is more scenic, or supportive of art, than the River Gallery, nestled in peaceful Dodge Valley near La Conner.

Among the 38 featured artists in the aptly named “Spring Show,” Sheila Evans is included for the first time. Her pastel studies, “Aloft,” and “Arc of Flight” depict a water plant, the darker stems visible beneath lustrous leaves, glistening white and bronze.…

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Silver Reef House
On Stage

History Hangouts

Anniversaries in action

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I’d never given much thought to the twin-like similarities that exist between Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre and Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre until a serendipitous glance at the venues’ upcoming calendars tipped me off to the empirical evidence that’s been in front of my face for years.

To begin with, my eye was drawn to activities taking place within a couple of hours of each other noting the theaters will celebrate more than 90 years of existence Sat., April 27 with events…

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Pick and Go Silver Reef

The Brink

The hate you give

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The charm of odious men is overrated. At a certain point in The Brink, Alison Klayman’s brisk documentary tagalong behind far-right pot-stirrer Steve Bannon, an admirer tells Bannon that although he might have just come off poorly in an onstage debate, at least he’ll have surprised and maybe even converted those who came expecting to see a monster.

Bannon’s not a monster. As shown in this coolly observant film, he’s an avuncular, witty, energetic presence whose views of the…

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Pick and Go Silver Reef

Luminary Parade

Guemes Island gets lit

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

For the past month or so, Loalynda Birds of Guemes Island’s Paper Birds Studio has been busier than usual. Along with her usual artistic endeavors, she’s been teaching folks from Guemes Island and its surrounding areas how to make paper luminaries, the colorful and whimsical vessels of light Birds has become known for.

Since the middle of March, she’s led a series of workshops in Anacortes, at the Guemes Island Community Center, and in her own studio, teaching folks how to…

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Alan Doyle
The Gristle
A Change in Climate

A CHANGE IN CLIMATE: The Washington Legislature nears the end of its 105-day regular session with much done, but much left to do in the details and funding of the state’s first $50 billion-plus two-year budget.

House Democrats passed a tax package out of committee last week that includes…

Game Changes

Prosecution should be less about punishment and more about doing what it takes to keep our community safe. Getting people to change their behavior does not always take the heavy hand of the government. Sometimes a lighter touch is enough to get the message across, which is one of the…

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Stand up and be heard

To those citizens who have not and do not, as a rule, vote in our elections:
We all feel urgency about the need for a righting of our ship of state. There are many things happening in our…

Responsive shoreline plan needed

At the March 26 Finance and Administrative Services Committee meeting, the Whatcom County Council announced the funding for the upcoming Shoreline Master Plan update, which is required to be…

Strengthen our water resource rules

When will we get serous about water resources?
We failed last year. And we might fail again this year. The Washington State Legislature gave local entities until February 2019 to develop a…

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Today's Events
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival


The flower-focused Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place throughout April at a variety of venues from Mount Vernon to Edison to La Conner, Anacortes, and beyond. In addition to being able…

Bellingham Beer Week


Beer Olympics, beer dinners, an Earth Day cleanup party, an Easter keg hunt, book signings, multiple release parties, hops planting, a mountain bike festival, brew-focused presentations, a…

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Residents of Whatcom County can submit images to the City of Bellingham’s annual “Essence of Bellingham” photo competition through May 1. See submission guidelines online.

Robin Hood, a Musical


Students from Sedro-Woolley High School’s award-winning theatre arts program will present a lively adaptation of a classic tale at performances of Robin Hood: A Musical at 7pm Thursday…



Squalicum Drama presents performances of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice at 7pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2pm Sunday at Squalicum High School, 3773 E. McLeod Rd. Ticket prices vary. Additional…

Unstable By Design


ttend the world premiere of a new play by Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao when Unstable by Design concludes this week with 7:30pm performances Thursday through Saturday at the Sylvia Center for the…

Wild Things


Kids, adults and adventurers can join Holly Roger of Wild Whatcom for a “Wild Things” Community Program from 9:30am-11am at the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. Please bring a simple, healthy…

Spring Book Sale


Fill your book bag with some fantastic reads at bargain prices at a Spring Book Sale happening today through May 4 during open hours at the Deming Library, 5044 Mt. Baker Hwy. Find books for…

Chanticleer Authors Conference


Enjoy three days of instruction on how to improve your marketing skills and sell more books at the annual Chanticleer Authors Conference taking place Friday through Sunday at Hotel…

Valley Writers


Bring pen and paper or a digital device to the bimonthly “Valley Writers” meeting from 1pm-3pm at Sudden Valley’s South Whatcom Library, 10 Barn View Court. Participants write from prompts,…

SPA Talk with Bradley James Lockhart


Bradley James Lockhart, the local graphic artist, animator and creator of the beloved Bellingham Flag, will lead a SPA Talk at 2:30pm at St. Paul’s Academy, 3000 Northwest Ave.  If you want…

Linuxfest Northwest


Learn and share ideas about accessible technology when Bellingham Linux Users Group and BTC’s Information Technology (IT) department host the 20th annual “Linuxfest Northwest” event…

Peace Vigil


All people of goodwill are invited to join the weekly Peace Vigil from 4-5pm every Friday on the corner of Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue (in front of the Federal Building). Started by…

First Friday Art Walk


Fairhaven Realty, Whatcom Art Market, Peter James Photography Gallery, Current and Furbish, Evolve Chocolate, Tony’s Coffee & Tea/Harris Ave. Cafe, Village Books, Paper Dreams, Colophon Cafe,…

Poetry Party


In honor of National Poetry Month, local poet Andrea Weiser will read from her books River Bed: Poems and Prose and Thunder Blossom: Wilderness Can Heal at 5pm in Concrete and the Upper…

Building Dreams Dinner and Auction


Home Trust of Skagit will host its inaugural “Building Dreams” Dinner and Auction from 5pm-8pm in Mount Vernon at Maplehurst Farm, 18495 Dike Rd. Tickets are $50; proceeds will fund the…

Raise the Roof Auction and Trashion Show


Join Habitat for Humanity for its 17th annual “Raise the Roof” Auction and Trashion Show starting at 5:30pm at Bellingham’s Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Tickets are $50 and include…

North Cascades Community Orchestra


North Cascades Community Orchestra presents its annual Spring Concert at 7:30pm at Central Lutheran Church, 925 N. Forest St. The classical concert will include the Downton Abbey suite by…

The Coronation of Poppea


Western Washington University opera students will present performances of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea at 7:30pm Friday and 2pm Sunday at the Performing Arts Center Mainstage.…

Skagit Community Band


“Petite Fleur” will be the theme of Skagit Community Band performances at 7:30pm Friday in La Conner at Maple Hall, and 3pm Sunday in Anacortes at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Entry is by…

Genre Legends, Hot Dogs


A fan favorite show, “Genre Legends,” returns to the stage at 7:30pm Fridays and Saturdays through April at the Upfront Theatre, 1208 Bay St. At 9:30pm, attend “Top Dog,” a monthlong team…

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