We are pleased to announce that The Nature Conservancy has transferred ownership of two iconic Waldron Island nature preserves on Waldron Island to us — the 269-acre Cowlitz Bay Preserve and the 208-acre Bitte Baer Preserve.
Purchased separately in the early 1970s with the support of donations from the Waldron Island community, these two properties were among the very first private lands to be permanently conserved in San Juan County. The Bitte Baer Preserve, which is adjacent to another 216-acre preserve previously purchased by the San Juan Preservation Trust, includes the sandstone face of Mount Disney and hosts one of the largest intact Garry oak ecosystems in the San Juan archipelago. The Cowlitz Bay Preserve, which was acquired in 1971 to thwart a proposed subdivision, hosts extensive high-quality wetlands and almost 4,000 feet of beachfront, including tidelands with forage fish spawning habitat and eelgrass beds.
“The San Juan Preservation Trust and the people of Waldron Island are the ideal partners to care for these iconic lands,” said Karen Anderson, the Conservancy’s Washington director. “We know that these preserves will be well-stewarded into the future.”
In addition to transferring the two preserves, The Nature Conservancy has also conveyed a stewardship endowment to the Preservation Trust that was created by donors at the time these properties were originally acquired. The preserves’ long-time resident caretaker, Tony Scruton, will also be retained by the Preservation Trust.
“Ownership may have changed hands, but The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to preserve and care for these inspiring preserves will continue in perpetuity under our watch,” said Tim Seifert, executive director of the Preservation Trust. “We’ve had a successful history of land conservation on Waldron, and we look forward to working with the island community to ensure that these places will remain in their healthy and natural state. Forever.”