Join the fun SJPT crew at our Friday Harbor office and lend your skills as an part-time office assistant. We’re looking for a volunteer with some extra time on their hands who could help with answering phones, mailing projects, updating our database and special event prep. Requirements are:  decent computer and typing skills, attention to detail, organizational skills and the availability to commit to at least a six-month term (the longer, the better!). Schedule can be entirely flexible, 12 – 15 hours per week needed. There will be plenty of opportunity to expand into project work both indoors and in the field if you’re interested! Beginning April 1. Please contact Bella French, Membership & Outreach Manager, bella@sjpt.org or (360) 378-2461.

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Hats off to our 2014 Volunteer of the Year!


Meet Harvey Himelfarb

We are extremely grateful to Harvey Himelfarb for his volunteer service to the Preservation Trust over the last 10 years. With humility and his articulate manner, Harvey served on the SJPT Board of Trustees from 2003-2011, contributing his intelligent insights and leadership skills to the growth of the organization. Among many accomplishments during his board tenure, Harvey organized our successful Photography Internship program and provided invaluable leadership during the Preservation Trust’s very first land trust accreditation process.

Two years after stepping down from the board, Harvey returned as a non-trustee volunteer in 2013 to serve as chairman of an ad-hoc Governance Committee. Convened to improve our approach to selecting, educating and engaging board members, this committee – under Harvey’s leadership – advanced a number of recommendations that will help shape the future of the Preservation Trust for years to come.

Originally from the Bronx, Harvey has been a West Coast transplant for decades. An accomplished artist, Harvey taught photography and printmaking for more than 20 years at UC Davis before accepting a position there of Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Programs.

In 1991, Harvey, his wife, Alice Swan, and their son purchased property on Orcas Island and built a small house. They moved to Orcas full time in 1998. After observing dramatic changes due to growth in Arizona and California during the past 30 years, Harvey is convinced that the San Juan Islands remain a special place where those who care can still save its pristine qualities.

“It has been an honor to help the Trust in protecting our beautiful islands. I need no recognition as I believe so much in the mission and the wonderful staff of the Trust,” said Harvey.

Harvey, you are much too humble. You have made a positive and lasting contribution to future of the Preservation Trust!

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Turtlehead Preserve Now Accessible Through Turtleback Mountain Preserve

On Saturday, August 24, about two dozen supporters gathered to help celebrate the connection of Turtleback Mountain Preserve to Turtlehead Preserve with the completion of a new trail. The project was made possible through the San Juan Preservation Trust’s acquisition of an adjoining 111-acre property (the “neck” in the iconic turtle-shaped ridgeline) which had separated the two preserves.

Following the ribbon-cutting, guests made the inaugural hike to Turtlehead Preserve and its unsurpassed views of San Juan and Canadian islands.

Visit the Preservation Trust’s Facebook page for a photo album of the event.


Hikers may access the new trail from the North Trailhead of Turtleback Mountain Preserve (off Crow Valley Road, next to the historic schoolhouse). A hike of 1.5 miles takes visitors to the Waldron Overlook, where the new trail begins. Another 1.2 miles of hiking with moderate elevation gain terminates at Turtlehead Preserve, with its stunning wildflowers and native grasslands. Hikers are requested to stay on the trail to minimize impact to the area. The new trail is strictly for pedestrian use; no bikes or horses are allowed.

The Campaign to Complete Turtleback is $55,000 away from reaching its goal of $1.15 million, which includes the $1.0 million purchase price and $115,000 for transaction and trail building costs. Support has come from the San Juan Preservation Trust’s acquisition funds, lead gifts from five Orcas Island families, and 202 additional donors. A “Cap Turtleback” initiative was created to inspire broad-based community participation in the campaign, and every donor of $50 or more will receive a Turtleback baseball cap.

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Photo: Ferdi Businger

Summer greetings from Vendovi Island!

With pleasant temperatures and cloudless, sunny skies, the past few weeks have been perfect for visiting Vendovi Island. We calculate that since May, over 900 people have ventured out to the island for recreational purposes. Visitors have come out solo, in pairs and in groups* to explore the island, picnic on Sunset Beach and hike out to the overlook at Paintbrush Point.

We’ve heard that visitors are also enjoying their chats with our resident caretakers, Heather and Shawn, who have the great fortune this summer to experience the wonders of Vendovi on a daily basis. Typical entries in Heather and Shawn’s daily journal include:

… We spotted a humpback near the entrance to the harbor on our way back from Bellingham. Yesterday we spotted a handful of small dead fish on the beach at Sunrise which we suspect might have been spawning smelt.

… Shawn went out in the dinghy to try to catch a pod of orcas traveling between Viti Rocks and Carter Point on Lummi.

…This morning my dad got this great picture of a garter snake.

Photo: Peter Bansmer

…We have an amazing display of blooming ocean spray throughout the island and the rein orchids are also blooming.

And another…

…I forgot to mention that we met a wonderful woman this week – Barbara Reid  came to see the island her late friend, Rachel Adams, worked to help preserve … Barbara entertained us with amazing stories of her adventures … she mentioned that she is spearheading a committee to install 3 memorials for Peter Puget on Blake Island, Cutts Island and Olympia. She has a blog for the project. What a wonderful and inspiring woman!

Other recent visitors to Vendovi have been doing more than chatting. Western Washington University students conducted a study of intertidal species, and students from the Northwest Indian College have conducted botanical research. We were blessed (once again) to welcome a crew of strong, hard-working youth from the Washington Conservation Corps to the island to relocate a trail-end away from a sensitive grassland area, and a second crew of wonderful all-purpose SJPT volunteers to do the thankless job of removing invasive plants, primarily holly and sweetbriar rose.

As to the care and maintenance of the non-native structures, our 2013 volunteer of the year Peter Willing continues to do a yeoman’s job of repairing, refurbishing and replacing the infrastructure around the house and outbuildings for safer, more efficient operation. (Until we know for a fact that we are able to retain ownership of Vendovi, none of the existing infrastructure will be removed.)

And speaking of retaining ownership of Vendovi, here’s a brief fundraising update: we’ve now raised $920,000 towards the $1.0 million challenge grant, but we must raise the remaining $80,000 by October 1. If we succeed with that goal, we will have:

  • met the $1 million challenge
  • decreased the balance on the bridge loan from its original $3.4 million to $1.3 million
  • enabled us to retain ownership of the island and keep it open for public access.

Please help us spread the word that the Campaign to Save Vendovi Island is not yet over. If you’ve not already done so, please consider contributing today!

Thank you!


* All are welcome but we require groups of 10 or more to check in with us in advance at 360/468-3202.

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You and your guests are warmly invited to


An event to celebrate 35 years of land conservation in
the San Juan Islands, applaud our members, past and present, and admire
the conservation legacy left to us by Dodie and Ernie Gann.

Saturday, August 3, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Red Mill Farm on San Juan Island

Music by the Crow Valley String Band and San Juan Island Jazz Trio
Children’s Activities
Art Show curated by Crow Valley Pottery
+ More

sponsored by


$15 suggested donation per adult

For more information, please email info@sjpt.org or call 360/468-3202.

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2013 Fieldwork Days Announced

Mark your calendars and let us know if you can pitch in!

Friday, June 14: Vendovi Island Ivy pull and trail clearing.

We will depart from Orcas Island’s Leiberhaven Dock at Obstruction Pass at 8:45 am; depart from Vendovi at 3:45 pm. Max 10 participants.

Thursday, June 20: Orcas Island Scotch broom pull on private land conserved by SJPT.

We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 2 pm. There is no limit to the number of participants for this work party!

Thursday, July 18: Lopez Island Holly eradication on private land conserved by SJPT.

We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 2 pm. There is no limit to the number of participants for this work party!

Friday, July 19: Shaw Island Trail Building on the Graham Preserve.

We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 3 pm. Limited to 10-12 participants.

Thursday, August 29: Waldron Island Blackberry picking.

Yes, blackberry picking, on the Cowlitz Bay Preserve. Our motto is: “if you can’t beat ‘em….eat ‘em!” Blackberries will be made into “Preserve Preserves” as a special signature product to benefit SJPT. Limited to 6 participants. SJPT will provide private boat transportation from Orcas Island. Plan on a full day; times will be confirmed later.

To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Kathleen Foley, Program Director, 360.378.2461 or kathleenf@sjpt.org.

Kathleen will confirm all details with registered participants approximately one week in advance of the event.

We hope to see you out on some of these remarkable properties this year!


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