Gift From the Heart
A Major Donation Hits a High-Priority Sweet Spot
Last month, both the San Juan Preservation Trust and the San Juan County Land Bank were thrilled to acknowledge a wonderful year-end gift: Sarah Hart, a member of the Preservation Trust’s Board of Trustees, donated 80 undeveloped acres with approximately 3,000 feet of shoreline on Henry Island.*Read more
Sarah worked with the Preservation Trust to craft a conservation easement, which she donated to the Trust; then she deeded the protected property to the Land Bank.
“It’s a wonderful conservation property and a very generous donation,” says Debby Clausen, the Preservation Trust’s Conservation Director. “This land lies at the heart of one of our highest-priority areas for conservation in the islands. It includes important salmon shoreline, seabird habitat, Garry oak savannah, and upland forest. We’ve had our eyes on Sarah’s property for a long time.”
The parcel spans the full width of H-shaped Henry Island’s southwest lobe, with natural shoreline fronting both Haro Strait and Open Bay. The rocky face of Kellett Bluff extends northward along the Haro Strait shoreline well into the Hart Conservation Easement. Pelagic cormorants nest on steep cliff s while orca whales often feed in the waters below.
Sarah was a young mother and wife in the early 1970s when she and her husband purchased the land. “We bought it because it was beautiful—and a bargain,” she says with a chuckle. “Land on outer islands was not so expensive in those days.”
The conservation easement allows the Land Bank to provide public access to beaches on Open Bay via noncommercial watercraft, like kayaks, but only for day trips. It also allows for ceremonial visits by members of the Lummi Nation, who once had a fishing settlement on the property. The Land Bank will manage the preserve.
Sarah says, “I’m glad I will always be able to go there and other people can also, yet have it remain wild forever.”
* All transactions involving SJPT trustees are guided by our Conflict of Interest Policy, a requirement of all accredited land trusts. Read our Conflict of Interest Policy.
…AND MORE GOOD NEWS
We learned on January 5 that Zylstra Lake, another of our joint projects with the San Juan County Land Bank, was awarded a $1 million 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.” This grant brings us a big step closer towards acquiring the 283-acre Zylstra Lake property.
The next step, which we are eagerly anticipating, is final word on a $1.1 million grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. We won’t know the outcome of this grant application until the legislature passes the state’s 2017-19 biennial budget, likely sometime in April or May.