Gwen Wilson Conservation Easement

San Juan Island
Year protected: 1996
Land protected: 55 acres
Public benefits:  Agricultural land, Garry oak habitat

When second generation San Juan Islander Gwen Wilson decided it was time to sell some of her farm property, she also decided that she wanted to ensure that her land would continue to look the way she had cherished it. Enlisting the help of a local realtor, Gwen was able to find two buyers who collaborated with her on drafting conservation easements that protected 55 acres of agricultural lands, open fields, remnant Garry oak habitat, and woodlands along San Juan Island’s Mitchell Bay Road.  Development was limited to one single-family residence, one guest house, and appropriate farm buildings for each buyer.

“The land is so beautiful and we’ve lost so much already,” said Wilson. “I thought if I could just keep this piece as natural as it is for years to come, it could be something special for people who would not be able to enjoy it if it was sold and severely subdivided. Thane (Bolger, the realtor who helped bring the parties together) knew what I was looking for and came up with two parties with the same interest. I’m thrilled with the way it worked out; otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to the sale.”

“Gwen told me she wanted prospective buyers to participate in creating the conservation easements,” said Bolger, “sort of custom-tailoring each transaction to fit all parties. The purchasers (Deborah and Tom Nolan and family and Lovel and Boyd Pratt and family) had some involvement with the Preservation Trust and open space programs and loved the idea of creating the easements.  Though the process in this case was somewhat complex, no one involved ever lost sight of the objective, and they all feel good about achieving it.”

The Pratts eventually sold their land, and it has become the home of LaCrover Farm.  LaCrover Farm is owned and managed by Katie Hover and Paul LaCrampe, who practice organic agriculture and lovingly tend the land that Gwen Wilson and the Pratts had the foresight to set aside.