River Access Paddle Program participants receive paddle safety education as part of their paid guide training; in this photo, they pose next to kayaks and smile at the camera

NEWS GLEAMS | Drug Conviction Refunds Available Online Starting July; New Program Removes Barriers to Duwamish River Access

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

Drug Conviction Refunds Available Online Starting July

Starting in July, Washington State residents will be able to log in to an online portal to receive refunds for former drug possession or misdemeanor marijuana offenses. This follows after the 2021 State v. Blake ruling, when the Washington State Supreme Court declared that the state’s drug possession law was unconstitutional.

According to a press release from Washington courts and reported by The Olympian, “An estimated 200,000 felony drug possession charges, some even dating back to the 1970s, and 150,000 misdemeanor marijuana charges may be eligible to be vacated.”
More information can be found at the Washington Courts website in July.

“If you were convicted of drug possession on or before February 25, 2021, you can get those convictions cleared (‘vacated’) and removed from your criminal record,” according to Washington State Courts. “You may also get a refund of the legal financial obligations (LFOs) you paid on your drug possession case/s.”

River Access Paddle Program participants receive paddle safety education as part of their paid guide training. (Photo: Cari Simson)

River Access Paddle Program Removes Barriers to Duwamish River Access

A partnership among the Duwamish River Community Coalition, the Duwamish Tribe, Maritime High School, People of the Confluence, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, and Youth Experiential Training Institute (YETI), the newly launched River Access Paddle Program (RAPP) trains local river guides in order to remove barriers to community access of the Duwamish River. It also aims to provide training around paddle sports, which are an expensive hobby that is not always available to residents near the Duwamish River.

“RAPP river guides are equipped to lead educational tours and stewardship opportunities on the river, including garbage cleanups, wildlife viewing, and more,” noted a press release. “River guides receive paid training, and tours are offered for free, challenging the exclusionary nature of paddle sports.”

“There’s a whole world on the river that many people in Seattle don’t know about,” said program co-founder Cari Simson, in the press release. “Spending time on the water helps people understand the past 20 years of cleanup and restoration efforts, as well as what needs to happen in the future. People feel like they’re part of something important.”

As reported by South Seattle Emerald, in 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Duwamish River a Superfund site due to its high level of pollution and toxicity. Superfund is the name of a federal law that requires the nation’s most toxic sites to be identified and cleaned up. Activities on the river have been increasing in recent years, including the recent reopening of the Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat (formerly Terminal 117), which marked the largest habitat restoration site along the Duwamish River in a generation.

More information can be found at The Heron’s Nest website.

Local Sightings Film Festival Accepting Submissions from Pacific Northwest Filmmakers!

Presented by Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, the 26th Annual Local Sightings Film Festival is a virtual and in-person showcase of creative communities from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The 2023 program, which runs from September 15–24, features a competitive selection of curated short film programs and feature films, inviting regional artists to experiment, break, and remake popular conceptions around filmmaking and film exhibition.

Local Sightings champions emerging and established talent, supports the regional film industry, and promotes diverse media as a critical tool for public engagement.

Submit by its final late deadline on July 10 by visiting the Local Sightings website.

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📸 Featured Image: River Access Paddle Program participants receive paddle safety education as part of their paid guide training. (Photo: Cari Simson)

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