Reporting from the heart of Cascadia

Best of Skagit
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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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Alan Doyle

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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Alan Doyle

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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Pick and Go Silver Reef
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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Silver Reef House

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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Silver Reef House
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…

Neil Berg
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…

Village Books
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…

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…

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.

Student and Community Job Fair


Everyone is welcome to meet with employers and connect with job 
opportunities across a range of fields at a WCC Student and Community Job Fair taking place from 10am-2pm at Whatcom…

Skagit Valley College Sustainability Fair


Attend a Sustainability Fair from 10am-8pm in Mount Vernon at Skagit Valley College. Table displays from local nonprofits, free bicycle tuneups by Skagit Cycle, a presentation from filmmaker…

Parkinson's Dance Class


Pam Kuntz leads a dance class for people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement or neurological disorders at 11am at Ballet Bellingham, 1405 Fraser St., suite #103. Entry is free. No…

English Country Dancing


Enjoy gentle English Country Dancing to beautiful music from 1:30-3pm at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center, 15 Halleck St. Newcomers age 50 and up are welcome, and no partner is…

Alt Reads


Whether you like graphic novels, play scripts, fan fiction or poetry, attend a monthly “Alt Reads” book club discussion from 3pm-4pm at the Everson Library, 104 Kirsch Dr. The group reads…

Kids for Peace Write Now


Youth ages 4-18 can create a unique poem to submit to the annual Peaceful Poetry Contest by attending a youth poetry workshop, “Kids for Peace Write Now” from 4pm-5:30pm at Village Books,…

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…

Balkan Folk Dancers


The Balkan Folk Dancers meet from 7-9:30pm Thursdays at the Fairhaven Library, 1117 12th St. There is teaching early in the evening, and no experience or partner is necessary as most dances…

The Success Lie


Local author Janelle Bruland shares ideas from her new book, The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind at 7pm at Village Books, 1200 11th St. Bruland is…



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…

Salish Sea Intertidal Life


Wildlife biologist and naturalist David Drummond presents “Salish Sea Intertidal Life: Barnacles to Sea Stars” at 7pm at the Community Food Co-op, 1220 N. Forest St. He’ll discuss field ID,…

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…

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