Advocacy and Research

Rights of the Salish Sea

The Rights of the Salish Sea is an effort to recognize in our County that the Salish Sea and all natural communities who depend on the Salish Sea ecosystem have the right to exist, thrive, regenerate and evolve. Recognizing these rights means that we, as humans, recognize that these natural communities — communities of forests, rivers, shorelines, orcas, salmon, and more — are not merely property but are living beings, and that we must consider the impacts of every decision we make on the health and well-being of these natural communities, as well as that of our own community.

Community Rights San Juan Islands (CRSJI) is working to advance the rights of the Salish Sea ecosystems, and the rights of San Juan County residents to protect and defend those ecosystems. CRSJI is developing an initiative to recognize the Rights of the Salish Sea to formally recognize the Rights of the Salish Sea in San Juan County law. This initiative uses the approach of ‘community rights’, the right to local, community self-government, which will empower the voices of San Juan County residents to protect the lands and sea they depend upon.

San Juan County Charter Review Commission

The 2021 charter review commission is exploring the incorporation of protections for the Salish Sea in the revised charter language.


Participate in the Charter Review Process by attending public meetings on zoom. The discussion about a Bill of Rights for the Salish Sea is in the Charter Review Process: Preamble, nuts & bolts Committee Meetings on Tuesday mornings 10:30-12pm. Speak up for the Rights of Nature and encourage the commission to be bold.

Notes from prior meetings: (Scroll down to “Charter Review Committees”)

Participate via zoom:

Email commissioners to support Rights of Nature: (Scroll down to “The 18 members of the Charter Review Commission” to get commission member names and emails).

County Comprehensive Plan

Our Comp Plan team is working with community members to ensure language envisioning a healthy, thriving Salish Sea bioregion is reflected in the vision for San Juan County’s Comprehensive Plan going forward.


The following groups are working on guiding principles and language for the comprehensive plan:

Friends of the San Juan Islands – A “Comp Plan Action Team” led by Brent Lyles meets monthly on the 2nd Friday of the month at 8:30am is working to educate the public about the Comprehensive Plan process and to engage the public in making comments on the plan.

Orcas Women’s Coaltion (OWC) Environmental Action Team (EAT)

Local organizations

We work regularly with local organizations including Friends of the San Juans, SeaDoc Society, Transitions, and more to learn how Rights of Nature thinking and language can help these organizations in the work they do to protect the Salish Sea.


If you are a member of an organization who would like to work with or support CRSJI’s work to recognize the Rights of the Salish Sea in San Juan County, please contact us.

Research Project

We are participating in an ongoing research project with the community, to discover community perspectives on Rights of Nature and Community Rights.