Sunday Afternoon on Zylstra Lake
If you are familiar with the Georges Seurat painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” perhaps better known as the basis for the Broadway musical “Sunday in the Park With George”, what comes to mind is recreation and relaxation at its best: strolling, picnicking, basking in the sun, fishing, rowing…
This idyllic vision has recently been imagined on San Juan Island’s Zylstra Lake, and if the San Juan Preservation Trust and San Juan County Land Bank are successful in their joint effort to acquire the 313-acre property, it will become a reality. A beloved place for people to relax and play is only one aspect of the vision. The success of this effort will also include the permanent protection of prime habitat for salmon and native cutthroat trout, and for overwintering Trumpeter Swans and other waterfowl. It will also expand the preservation of a sweeping valley viewscape that has historically been one of the most productive agricultural zones in the archipelago.Read more
The family that was selling the property clearly preferred this vision, as they approached The Preservation Trust in November with very favorable terms after a developer – intent on building a number of lakefront homes – had already submitted an offer. Noting that Zylstra Lake is the only property to ever satisfy every single public benefit criteria on our project selection checklist, we quickly mobilized to assess the financial feasibility of the project. Encouraged by initial responses received from the County Land Bank and granting agencies, SJPT’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to proceed. While grants don’t always materialize, and the timing is not ideal (with the Campaign for Mount Grant still $1.0 million away from completion), SJPT’s trustees nevertheless felt that this opportunity was too important to miss. We simply have to try.
Together with the County Land Bank, we have entered into an agreement to purchase the Zylstra Lake property for $3.0 million. The County has committed $500,000, and The Preservation Trust has accepted lead responsibility for raising the remaining $2.5 million balance. We will apply for grant funds and re-sell a 30-acre farmstead located within the property. In early 2017, when we know the total grant funds awarded to the project, the partnership will determine whether or not it will have the funding to proceed. At that point, we may then launch a community fundraising campaign to cover remaining costs of acquisition and restoration.
Under the partnership’s current vision, the 161-acre “Upper Lake” parcel would eventually be owned by the County Land Bank and managed primarily for open space and recreation. Public amenities (subject to the development of a management plan) may include walking trails, a launch for small non-motorized boats, and San Juan Island’s only publicly-accessible swimming lake. The 122-acre “Lower Lake” parcel would be owned by
The Preservation Trust and managed to provide agricultural opportunities, a public trail, and year-round stream flow in False Bay Creek for salmon and native cutthroat trout.
Imagine fly-fishing in San Juan Valley. Imagine sailing, picnicking, strolling … Imagine Sunday afternoon at Zylstra Lake!
54 home sites
$300,000 (made on December 15, 2015)
$900,000 due in December
2016, 2017 and 2018