Gretchen Goodner Conservation Easement

Lopez Island
Year protected: 1996
Land protected: 41 acres
Shoreline protected: 1,120 feet
Public benefits:  Shoreline, salt marsh, forest

A 41-acre conservation easement on the east side of Lopez Island, donated to the Preservation Trust in 1996 by Joe and Oakley Goodner to honor the life of their daughter, will protect part of a significant coastal ecosystem on Lopez Sound in perpetuity. The property consists of woodlands, open fields and 1,120 feet of shoreline, including a salt marsh and landmark tombolo.

“A tombolo is a piece of land that appears, at high tide, to be another, small island,” Oakley explained at the time of their gift. “But it’s actually connected by an isthmus, which is clearly visible at low tide, and which separates to different bodies of water on Lopez Sound.”

The protected property is significant habitat for nesting bald eagles and other birds and animals. It enhances the rural character of Lopez Island, providing views of Mt. Baker, sheep grazing in open meadows, natural shoreline and wildlife habitat. Its entire western border is along Lopez Sound Road, providing enjoyment to passers-by on this county road as well as from the waters of Lopez Sound.

Once part of an old farm, the property currently has one residence, one guest house, and farm structures. Under terms of the easement, three more single family homes are permitted, but any new structures must be sited and constructed in a way to minimize impact upon the natural, scenic, and open space values on the property. “Before the easement, the potential was there to divide this land into several parcels for waterfront homes,” added Oakley.

“We wanted to protect the tombolo as a nature preserve in memory of our daughter, Gretchen. Eventually we decided we wanted all of the land and coastline waterfront to be preserved forever. Knowing that the land will stay this way is a super feeling,” Oakley concluded. “We feel wonderful about making this gift.”