Island watchdog continues effort to protect the environment

GARDINER — Eleanor Stopps, Jefferson County’s Citizen of the 20th Century, met with about a 100 Peninsula environmental conservationists Saturday during the Discovery Bay Day celebration.

Stopps won national recognition in the 1980s after she convinced Congress to grant Protection Island national wildlife refuge status.

Nearly a quarter-century later and despite nagging arthritis and heart surgery, Stopps, 85, remains youthful and energetic.

And she continues to play an active role as an environmental advocate.

Stopps attended the Discovery Bay Day event as encouragement for everyone involved in conserving the Puget Sound environment.

Organizations showcased

The celebration showcased environmental organizations like Jefferson Land Trust, Jefferson County Conservation District, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Hood Canal Coordinating Council and others that participate in preserving land and waters around Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Discovery Bay.

Stopps manned the Port Townsend Admiralty Audubon Society’s information desk, which she set up along with representatives from other organizations.

Throughout most of the event she sat on her chair, a cane in her hands.

To her right, the contour of Protection Island could be seen in the window of the Gardiner Community Center.

Seabird nesting site

The island is home to more than 75 percent of seabirds that nest in Washington excluding the Pacific coast, Stopps said.

It continues to be closed to the public to prevent disturbing its enormous bird habitat and wildlife — what Stopps fought to maintain.

“It was important to me, and I guess it was important to the birds,” she said.

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