The San Juan Island community has succeeded in permanently protecting one of the island’s most valuable gems. The ridgeline and surrounding acreage of what had (until recently) been marketed as the “Lawson Ridge” residential development offer extraordinary natural features, including native island habitat, miles of trails, and unmatched, 360-degree panoramic views exceeding others available on San Juan Island.
Renewing a partnership forged during the successful “Campaign to Save Turtleback Mountain” on Orcas Island, the San Juan Preservation Trust worked with the San Juan County Land Bank and the local island community to permanently protect this spectacular property. In Fall 2014, the private, non-profit Preservation Trust and the Land Bank, a county agency, began a feasibility period that gave the opportunity to test the community’s support for this project. We were encouraged by several early commitments of financial support and the tremendous enthusiasm from the community, and so moved to acquire the property. As we prepared to undertake this effort, we re-discovered the original but long-forgotten name for this ridge —“Mount Grant.” On March 9, 2015, the Preservation Trust and the Land Bank made a $1 million down payment on the $3 million purchase price. The sellers financed a loan for the remaining $2 million. If the loan couldn’t be paid off, the sellers would likely relist the home sites for sale as private residential estates.
The Land Bank committed a total of $1.5 million to the project, or half the purchase price. The Preservation Trust undertook the Campaign for Mount Grant Preserve to raise the remaining $1.5 million of the purchase price, plus an additional $1.2 million—$1 million to establish a stewardship fund for ongoing care of the property and $200,000 to cover legal, closing, and other transactional costs.
In January 2017, the Preservation Trust announced that the campaign to raise $2.7 million had reached its goal. 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. Where is Mount Grant?