The roar of Glacier drowns out the noise of other issues


That bawling behemoth that is Glacier Northwest, and the controversy surrounding whether it will win the right to mine away one-third of Maury Island, pretty much maxes out my capacity for “How is that possible?”

Or so I thought.

I admit to mixed feelings upon learning that if Glacier does not manage to dig itself out of the situation on Vashon Island, it will stay busy and prosperous anyway — with the gravel they get by blowing up and crushing the tops of the Cascade Mountains where they mine in British Columbia.

I’m unhappy about it, but I have to think property values and not in my backyard and all that. Don’t I?

By staying myopically consumed with the issues right here, I tend to get a big, fat wallop of a surprise when learning of things like the proposed dams on the Columbia River.

Yep. Other boogeyman-like issues are happening, all over our state (shock); it’s not all on Vashon.

I want to put my head in the sand, err, Sound, or just prance out to the garden and feel smug because I have bumblebees hibernating there.

I don’t want to read that Washington state’s number one choice for damming the Columbia is the lower Crab Creek dam, which would flood 19,000 acres of dedicated wildlife habitats, including the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, plus condemn 8,000 acres of farms and ranches.

Aren’t we supposed to be trying to eat locally? I’m getting mixed messages here. If I wanted hydroponically grown food, I’d be eating kelp.

Oh, and that dam comes with a price tag of $2.4 billion. Estimated, to build. We know about those estimates: Who among us hasn’t built or rehabbed a house or been to the lumber store?

Here on Vashon, we can make Glacier the singular focus of our outrage. Those along the Columbia have multiple outrages, because it doesn’t stop with one dam proposal.

In addition to the lower Crab Creek dam, there’s also a proposed Black Rock dam, which will disrupt and overwhelm the cleanup of Hanford Reservation groundwater contamination, be built on a thrust fault, in a landslide- and earthquake-prone area, extend 6,000 feet across and cost $4 billion to build and $79 million a year to operate.

The state of Washington is spending millions of dollars on reports and studies and has created a new bureaucracy of dam planners within the Department of Ecology.

Hey! They might take attention away from the Maury Island/Glacier issue! How many balls of concern can our elected state officials juggle?

There are three other dams under consideration.

But I don’t want to be the gloom and doom writer who squashes your flush of excitement on saving 10 cents by bringing your own cup to the coffee stand. So sip away.

And rather than drone on, I’ll crawl back under my own cozy blanket of today, right this minute on Vashon, where I have bulbs coming up and buds on the trees and where I saw the orcas three times this winter. The sun is shining, which makes me happy, and I’m just sure the people in charge of common sense will get my e-mail and everything will be OK.

— Margaret Heffelfinger is a writer and artist who lives on Maury Island.