San Juan Preservation Trust

Island Dispatch

February 2014

Photo by Kurt Thorson

Salmon Habitat Protected on Stuart Island

In late December 2013, the San Juan Preservation Trust purchased a 61-acre conservation easement on Stuart Island. With 4,400 feet of undeveloped rocky shoreline, pocket beaches, old growth forest and an extensive network of nearby conserved lands, this scenic property on Reid Harbor provides vital marine riparian habitat for salmon and forage fish.

“We’ve been discussing conservation options with the Cooley-Gilliom-Cooley family, which owns this property, for 10 years,” said Debby Clausen, the Preservation Trust’s Director of Conservation. “Its importance to salmon recovery efforts allowed us to complete this project.”

This acquisition protects natural shoreline processes and vegetation (including eelgrass), water quality and native habitat for salmon, surf smelt, Pacific sand lance and Pacific herring. Washington State’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributed $795,000 through its Puget Sound Acquisition & Restoration Fund, while the landowners significantly reduced the price of the easement to make the deal come together.

The Preservation Trust has been working with the Stuart Island community for 15 years to protect the area around Reid Harbor. This conservation easement, which expands protection to more than 400 acres and two miles (60%) of Reid Harbor’s shoreline, represents a key milestone in this neighborhood effort.

Under the Influence ... of Friends

Until Bob Roseburg befriended Mat and Katherine Mottola, he had never been to the San Juans and he had never thought about conservation.

The Mottolas introduced Bob to the islands and, after 26 years as an art teacher, he retired to San Juan Island with his partner Edwin Thorpe. He purchased an 8.6 acre property atop a hill with sweeping views. His garden became his studio, and flowers his medium. While enjoying his beautiful surroundings, he observed the Mottolas and other neighbors protecting their land with conservation easements. He followed their example but went a step further. After permanently protecting his property with an easement, he donated it to the Preservation Trust with a reserved life estate, which allows him to remain in his hilltop home as long as he wishes.

“I wish people would talk more openly about their estate plans. I feel good about what I’ve done for the Trust, and I want people to know about it so they might consider doing the same!”