Maia Bellon | Future Generations

What's your connection to the land?

I have many early outdoor memories. I can remember walking home from school - looking up at fall trees against the street, and how colorful and beautiful the maple leaves were. Around that same time my teacher gave a poem assignment and I wrote it about those leaves and how beautiful they were. My mom still has this poem.

My family spent a lot of times outdoors: camping, swimming in lakes, streams and rivers from the Columbia River to the Yakima River and small streams near where we lived. These experiences instilled in me a deep passion to protect air, land, water - all our precious resources.

How does that connection influence your work as Director of DOE?

I think of ways to make the outdoors a destination where people can feel a connection to land, because this connection is important for protection, preservation and enhancement of watersheds, agricultural land and resources. This guides my vision to look ahead in my work - to think, if we work together to get this clean up right, we can actually make a difference to assist this stream or river; the possibilities are exciting.

What actions have you taken as a steward that you're most proud of and/or that you feel have made the biggest difference?

My approach to this answer might be a little different. I spend a lot of time in thinking about relationships- working hard to develop relationships with people who are unlikely to have the same views as me. Relationship building is necessary to solve challenging environmental issues. An example of this that I’m proud of is developing the first Agriculture Water Quality Advisory Committee. This is a group of agricultural producers that we meet with to talk about the real challenges of Agriculture and water quality.

To me, it’s not what’s been done, it’s who I’ve reached across the aisle to shake hands with or who I’ve sat down over coffee with to learn understand their perspectives. I like to be able to walk out of a room and call a farmer a friend or go on a site visit to an industrial site and to be able to understand their challenges. If we work collectively, I think we will be successful in protecting the air, water and land that we all enjoy. 

What’s your hope for the next 75 years? (or) what advice do you have for those next 75 years?

My hope for the next 75 years is to continue to support conservation efforts across the state. Snohomish Conservation District is a good example of partnerships working together for conservation. My hope is that we each step back and realize that the decisions we make today do impact our world, not just the short term, but our world in 20, 50…100 years. Our decisions today have a lasting impact.

My hope is that we think ahead, with the understanding that we borrow this land from our children and grandchildren and it is important to balance the environment with the needs of our growing populations, farmers, cities, forests. Our decisions impact the next 7 generations. A quote I love, “Conservationists make incredible ancestors”.

Anything else you want to share or feel is important?

I want my daughter to enjoy this beauty in our state: the nature resources- to enjoy what I’ve enjoyed in growing up here. Before having my daughter, who is now 12, I was passionate about protecting the environment. After having my daughter, this passion has exponentially increased. I want her to enjoy this land, and if she decides to have a family, I want them to be able to enjoy it, and on and on...

Who are you?

Name: Maia Bellon, Director of the Washington Department of Ecology

Where is home? Tumwater WA (taken from the native word tumbling waters). I went to high school here, and I’ve lived here for most of the last 30 years.

 Where are you from? Washington State. I did spend time in Arizona getting my Law Degree, but I missed our great state of Washington… the running rivers, evergreen trees, the wisps of clouds. I love Washington.