Citizens Don Tattoos to Protect Federal Land in the San Juans

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Robb Krehbiel

Public support builds for San Juan Islands National Monument

Environment Washington

Seattle — Hundreds of Washingtonians are getting tattoos this week in support of the San Juan Islands National Monument. On a recent trip to the San Juans, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell stated she had done everything but “get a tattoo” for the monument. So this week, in celebration of National Public Lands Day (September 29), Environment Washington is distributing hundreds of temporary tattoos across the state so that Washingtonians can join Sen. Cantwell in urging the President to protect nearly 1,000 acres of federally-owned Bureau of Land Management Lands in the San Juans as a National Monument.

“Senator Cantwell has been a champion for the people across Washington State who want to see these unmatched small islands, bluffs, lighthouses and habitat lands in the San Juan Islands protected forever. She’s done everything but ‘get a tattoo’ — so hundreds of Washingtonians this week are joining her to ‘ink’ their support for protecting the San Juans,” said Robb Krehbiel, Program Associate with Environment Washington. “We want these islands protected forever. President Obama can ‘ink’ his support too—by signing a declaration to protect these BLM lands as a National Monument.”

Photos of people wearing the “I support the San Juans National Monument” tattoos are being posted to Facebook pages of the White House and U.S. Interior Department. The colorful tattoo was designed by Marcus Justiss of Art of Design Tattoo in Friday Harbor, the only tattoo artist in the San Juan Islands.

The proposed San Juan Islands National Monument would protect close to 1,000 acres of historic and pristine lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management from destructive development. Over the last few years, developers in the area have tried to take advantage of the islands for timber and mineral extraction, but residents have been able to fight off these efforts. National Monument declaration, which is supported by local business owners, local elected officials, Governor Gregoire, and the congressional delegation, will ensure the permanent protection status of the islands.

“The [Bureau of Land Management] lands in the San Juans are recreational, historic and cultural destinations for residents and visitors,” said Tom Reeve of Islanders for the San Juan Island National Conservation Area. “They provide significant ecological value in an area increasingly pressured by development. National Monument designation will ensure these lands are permanently protected and managed for those purposes.”

Last week, President Obama declared Chimney Rock in Colorado as a National Monument. Locals are hopeful that this action signals that the President might be willing to protect other federal lands, such as the San Juans.


Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit