A Transition at the Preservation Trust

From Executive Director Tim Seifert:

After 15 years at the helm of this exceptional organization, I have informed our board of trustees that it is time to identify my successor. We are about to launch a search for a new Senior Director of Operations position, and it is our hope that the person we hire to fill this job will one day—in the not-so-distant future—take over my role as Executive Director of this organization.

Tim on the Henry Island Isthmus

Be assured that I’m not saying goodbye just yet. We are casting a wide net, and we hope to attract talent from a variety of fields in the business, nonprofit, and government arenas, so we anticipate that it will take some time to ensure a strong transition. I am committed to sticking around for as long as it takes to orient this new person to our islands, our work and our people (including you). We expect this could take anywhere from 12 to 36 months. We will be certain that this person will be ready on the first day they assume our Executive Director position.

Here is a link to the job description for this new SENIOR DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS position. If you know someone who might be an ideal fit for this position, or if you have a friend or colleague with possible connections to potential candidates, we hope that you will forward this job description to them. As you will see, Jack Groban—an executive recruiter and SJPT member with a home on Orcas Island—is leading this search on our behalf. Please let Jack know if you have any questions about this position, and in the meantime we will keep you informed of our progress.

It remains the honor of my life to work for all of you to protect our island home. On behalf of our board of trustees and staff, we promise to hire (and train) an individual who shares our passion for protecting this place that we love so much.


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Mount Grant Co-Chairs Win Finnies!

Our own Keith Wentworth and Thor Hanson are the recipients of 2017 Finnie Awards from the Stewardship Network of the San Juans. They were among six recipients announced over Earth Day weekend, chosen for their outstanding contributions over the past year as stewards of our island community.

You can read all about it here:

Quoting from the official citation: “Winners Thor Hanson and Keith Wentworth co-chaired the Steering Committee that brought the Campaign for Mt. Grant to its successful conclusion this past January. From Craig Canine, who nominated them, ‘without Thor and Keith’s tireless, resourceful, and persistent leadership, the 141-acre Mount Grant/Lawson Ridge property might have had to revert to the seller. Instead, it’s now permanently protected as a public nature preserve.’”

Well done and thanks again, Thor and Keith!

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Vendovi Island Preserve is OPEN for the season!

This year, Vendovi Island opened on April 1 for the season, which will extend through September 30. Open hours are 10am–6pm Thursday through Monday. The preserve is CLOSED on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the season.

Caretakers Thyatira and Elaina Thompson

We’re welcoming new caretakers this year, Elaina and Thyatira Thompson. Elaina is a Washington native with background in the marine services industry. Thyatira (aka TJ) is from New Orleans and has worn many hats, from farmhand to math teacher to professional keyboard player. It’s great to have them aboard!

If you’re visiting Vendovi by private boat, you’re welcome to tie up to the 70-foot dock inside the breakwater in the north cove. Dock space is first-come, first-served. Please pull forward as far as you can to make room for others. We ask that you observe a 3-hour time limit on the dock, especially on busy weekend days when we have LOTS of visitors vying for space.

It’s also possible to anchor outside the breakwater and dinghy into the cove, either beaching your dinghy or tying up to the west end of the dock. Anchoring inside the cove is not permitted, to prevent damaging sensitive eelgrass habitat. Kayakers are encouraged to pull their boats up onto the beach below the caretaker house.

There is no regularly scheduled commercial boat access to Vendovi, but you can get there by arranging water-taxi service from various charter providers. A few that we know of are Island Express Charters (out of Skyline Marina in Anacortes), Outer Island Excursions (based on Orcas Island), and San Juan Cruises (out of Bellingham).

Here is a downloadable map and guidelines to aid your enjoyment of Vendovi Island Preserve, a private nature preserve that is open to the public thanks to the generous support of San Juan Preservation Trust members.


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A Giant Step for Zylstra Lake


We learned last week that Zylstra Lake, another of our joint projects with the San Juan County Land Bank, was awarded a $1 million federal coastal wetlands grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In the words of the USFWS news release, “the project will protect and reintegrate a network of lakes, wetlands and riparian areas with the ocean and protect associated water rights necessary for future stream restoration projects.”

Newsletter_Website_Jan_012916_Hero“This was a comprehensive application process, and it took a lot of talented people from a variety of disciplines to bring it all together,” says Debby Clausen, the Preservation Trust’s Conservation Director and the leader of this application effort. “In particular, the willingness of the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs to add their False Bay Preserve to our project was essential to the success of this grant.”

The Preservation Trust and the Land Bank would also like to thank Barbara Rosenkotter, Phil Shephard, and a broad island community of support, along with our partners at the Washington State Department of Ecology, the San Juan Islands Conservation District, the Washington Water Trust, the Trumpeter Swan Society, and the USFWS.

Artist's conception of a bird blind on Lake Zylstra

Artist’s conception of a bird blind on Lake Zylstra

This grant brings us a giant step closer to the $3 million total needed to acquire the Lake Zylstra property. Currently pending: a $1.1 million state grant. We won’t know about that one until the legislature approves the upcoming budget, likely sometime this spring.

Here is the full text of the USFWS news release.

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Mount Grant Preserved!


After two years of fundraising, the $4.2 million Campaign for Mount Grant Preserve has come to a successful completion. The 141-acre ridgeline, which includes open grassy knolls and stately old-growth Douglas firs, is now permanently protected.

The San Juan County Land Bank made an initial investment of $1.5 million in this project—one-half of the property’s purchase price of $3 million. The San Juan Preservation Trust raised the remaining $2.7 million, including a $1 million stewardship fund for the long-term care of the property, from private philanthropic sources. More than 850 families, residents of San Juan and surrounding islands as well as visitors, contributed more than 1,200 gifts to top out the campaign.

View from the summit of Mount Grant (photo by Alice Hurd)

View from the summit of Mount Grant (photo by Alice Hurd)

In addition to its rich endowment of native plant and animal habitat, the Mount Grant property will offer multiple recreational opportunities. From its summit, visitors can take in remarkable views in every direction. An existing road to the top was opened to vehicles on select “Sundays on the Summit” over the course of the campaign. Time and again, expressions of “Wow, I never knew this was here!” could be heard as visitors got out of their cars or completed the one-mile hike to the top to take in the 360-degree views.

A volunteer steering committee of 18 community members advocated and raised funds for the project. Hiking and equestrian groups, students, visual artists, musicians, and other volunteers contributed their labor, talents, advocacy, and countless hours to the campaign’s success. Stewardship funds will be used to build trails and other visitor amenities, maintain the summit road, control invasive plants, and implement restoration of compromised portions of the preserve. “Acquisition is only the beginning,” says Kathleen Foley, Stewardship Manager of the San Juan Preservation Trust. “Our job now, as stewards of the land, is to balance human enjoyment and safety with protection of the fragile aspects of a nature preserve.”

Now that the campaign is complete, the property will be owned and managed by the San Juan County Land Bank, and the Preservation Trust will hold a conservation easement on it. A management plan will be developed through a process that includes significant public input. “We will listen carefully and work hard to accommodate as many ideas and requests as possible,” says Doug McCutchen, Preserve Steward for the Land Bank. “Please stay tuned and participate in the public scoping meetings that will soon be announced.”

For more information on the progress of the management plan and public input, visit sjclandbank.org.

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A Tribute to Dale Hazen



Dale Hazen (1928-2016)

It is with both sadness and fond memories that we report the passing of Dale Hazen, who served on the San Juan Preservation Trust’s Board of Trustees for 15 years (1993-2008). Dale died in Anacortes on December 18th at age 88 following a valiant battle with both leukemia and Parkinson’s disease.

A native of Washington State, Dale and his wife, Ann, retired in Anacortes in 1990 after raising two children in Eastern Washington. Their shared love for the San Juan Islands can be traced back to family sailing trips they enjoyed on their boat Sunshine, then later as they cruised in their trawler Bravo. Soon after arriving in Anacortes, Dale jumped headlong into an ambitious effort to bring a diverse group of 22 neighbors together to create our Geary Preserve, a 1.2 mile stretch of natural shoreline along Burrows Bay on Fidalgo Island. This experience attracted Dale to the work of the Preservation Trust, where he presided on the Board of Trustees during a period of significant transition and growth.

In 2001, Dale agreed to serve as co-chair of our $1.1 million Sares Bluff capital campaign to acquire the largest remaining waterfront parcel on Fidalgo Island and then fold it into Skagit County’s adjacent Sharp Park. Dale employed the skills he had honed as a sales executive in the television industry to identify and cajole prospective donors to support this project.

Dale fundraising for the Sares Bluff project at the 2003 Anacortes Arts Festival

Dale fundraising for the Sares Bluff project at the 2003 Anacortes Arts Festival

His easygoing manner, fearless nature, and indefatigable sense of purpose ultimately overcame countless obstacles as we pushed the project to success in May 2003. Now named Montgomery-Duban Headlands Park, the trails and vistas throughout this beautiful place are open to the public and serve as permanent reminders of the many contributions Dale Hazen made during his remarkable tenure with this organization.

Dale was a friend and mentor to many of us associated with the San Juan Preservation Trust. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann and her family as we celebrate the life of a man who has made such a significant and lasting difference in these islands.

Read Dale’s obituary in the Whidbey News-Times.


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Honoring Two Departed Friends

Hull Conservation Easement, Henry Island

As our maples and oaks slumber on windswept hillsides and our wild lilies lie quietly in the soil waiting for the promise of spring, this time of year is characterized by senescence. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that people often slip away this time of year, as well. We’ve lost some good supporters of SJPT in the last month: Gretchen Hull (Henry Island) and Oakley Goodner (Lopez Island) in particular. In honor of these two remarkable women (and Conservation Easement donors) and their families, we’d like to share their stories with you:



Cheers, Oakley and Gretchen … and thank you.

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