Editorial: A reprieve on the Sound

After a month of protests, political skirmishes and wild weather, Glacier Northwest is stopping work on its controversial barge-loading pier off of Maury Island.

But it wasn’t the courts, protests or weather that put an end to the work. It’s the fact that herring — one of the foundational fish in the complex food chain that makes up Puget Sound’s ecosystem — are now spawning. State law, in an attempt to protect what’s called forage fish, restricts in-water work when herring begin to congregate and lay eggs, a vulnerable time in their life cycle.

Glacier asked to continue working, despite restrictions that go into place on Jan. 15. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife rightfully said “no.”

It was a relief to learn the state declined Glacier’s request. Too often in this sad saga, those in a position to protect the Sound’s ailing ecosystem and precious resources have abdicated their responsibility.

Island residents now have a break; Glacier won’t be able to resume its construction project until August. But while it will be nice for the Island to take a collective deep breath, it’s hardly a moment to relax or back off.

Those who oppose this project — and their numbers are great on Vashon — still have, at best, a quixotic effort before them. At the same time, their energy over the past several weeks has been infectious and inspiring. Momentum is building. Let’s not lose it, even while the Sound gets a much-needed reprieve from this sorry, ill-advised project.

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