Letters to the Editor, Week of Aug. 30, 2023

Wildfire, those hideous 'Minions' and school board culture wars
August 30, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.


We appreciate CDN's in-depth reporting about the growing wildfire risk here (CDN, Aug. 25, 2023). There's more to the story, though:

Bellingham's urban forests don't show up on the local wildfire risk assessment map that DNR and others use. Yet the Arboretum, Samish Crest, Whatcom Falls Park and Lake Padden Park are all prime candidates for a mega-wildfire in our new hotter, drier, extended summers.

Since wildfires tend to spread by a self-generated windstorm of flying ashes, structures as far as a mile or two away from the edges of such forests are potentially at risk, depending on the wind direction that day. It's not just homes nestled along the edges of woods that are at risk.

Fortunately, there are relatively easy and low-cost steps homeowners can do to improve the fire resistance of their abode. Same goes for owners of apartments and condos. Whatcom Conservation District will do free wildfire risk assessments, upon request.

But wildfire resistance is only part of the solution. There needs to be evacuation planning, neighbor-to-neighbor networking, signs in local forests highlighting significant penalties for illegal fires, active monitoring of such forests by frequent walkers and much more.

Whatcom Million Trees Project has been speaking about the above to neighborhood associations and others. We aren't trying to scare people. But the facts are that there is a tremendous lack of wildfire awareness, prevention and preparedness — within our city — in ways that local agencies tend to be missing. It's an urban issue, folks, not just a rural issue.

Michael Feerer



While I was reading the article ("Is Whatcom County prepared for a wildfire disaster?" CDN, Aug. 25, 2023), I kept hoping that at some point it would mention the “elephant in the room”. And that is fireworks. What possible logical explanation could there be for setting off fireworks under these conditions? 

I’ve been told it is major income for the Nooksack Indian Tribe. I suggest fireworks be banned 100%. And the Nooksack, if they want to, be the only ones to sell them at a festival they host and at which only they profit, close to the river for obvious reasons. 

Maybe they want to invite people to come sell at booths. These are just ideas. Other people should present theirs, of course, and the Nooksack tribe needs to be consulted if this is workable for them. But no matter what decision is made, it needs to be made very quickly and fireworks need to be banned.

Judie Worrell

Maple Falls


Ralph Schwartz writes "the 56-foot-tall digester tanks stand as ready-made art meant to enhance the waterfront's industrial aesthetic."  I disagree. They are ugly, rusty, view-blocking pieces of industrial detritus that should be cut up and deposited on one of the steel scrap piles. 

Jim Kyle

Van Zandt


Regarding the article about the school board culture war (CDN, Aug. 22, 2023), I encourage voters to Google organizations listed by candidates as prior employment or affiliation. Local news (CDN excepted) just does cut-and-paste of candidate press releases, rarely looking further.

As I noted in my blog post, McKinney Menace, about former Blaine school board member Laura McKinney:

In her Northern Light 2017 and 2021 candidate interviews, Blaine school board member Laura McKinney cited her experience working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — a lobbying organization that opposes unions, occupational safety, and public health measures that threaten the tobacco industry —  and Whatcom Business Alliance —  a fossil fuel export advocacy organization.

As noted in my 2019 article "On a Mission from God," Laura and her husband James McKinney are key players in the Tea Party network promoting Christian white supremacy.

As reported in 2020 in The Searchlight Review, James McKinney — an emcee at earlier pro-Trump rallies — led anti-mask rallies in Lynden opposing COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier in the year, Laura McKinney was the lone dissenting vote on the Blaine school board against remote learning during the pandemic.

Jay Taber



Thanks for publishing Allen [Peterson]’s letter. It’s nice to hear from a variety of voices.

Everyone has their own opinion on where to place the needle between state and self. I have to admit, I have not explored the libertarian end of the spectrum that well. I am open to hearing more but I’m kind of a pessimist.

I’m glad that there are regulations on where a pig farm can be and that there is a police and fire department. I can, however, agree that a government can get too big and bloated. And that it is more responsive to corporate and the 1% needs than the will of the majority (see study "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens," published by Cambridge University Press, Sept. 18, 2014). 

I do know some conservatives who do good work through their churches, and I have to admit bringing it to that personal level might be more reasonable. When the person receiving the help knows you personally are supporting them, they may act differently than if the help came from some distant impersonal government agency. 

Too big. Vote!

Tim Knapp


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com, due Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Rules: Maximum 250 words, have a point and make it clearly. CDN reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, grammar and style, and personal attacks or offensive content. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer's identity (not for publication).

Have a news tip? Email newstips@cascadiadaily.com or Call/Text 360-922-3092



Register for email newsletters

* indicates required

Latest Stories

Sehome, Ferndale trade blows in hard-fought tie
Both teams come away disappointed with draw

Candidates hope to turn campaign dollars into votes
Executive Sidhu, council member Kershner are biggest fundraisers

How government shutdowns negatively impact the outdoor recreation economy
'Many people suffer from the gamesmanship of politicians thousands of miles away'

Getting ready for Bellingham Exit festival
Inaugural edition of multi-venue festival offers range of genres

With shutdown averted, funding available to Whatcom flood victims
Federal budget extension includes $16B for FEMA