Otto Conservation Easement

Lummi Island

Year Protected: 2000
Land Protected: 70 acres
Public Benefits: Wetlands, forest, meadows, rocky balds

Lummi Island, a dramatic icon of the San Juan Archipelago, stands under the watchful eye of the Lummi Island Heritage Trust, a land trust that emerged in 1997 to protect the natural values on this unique island. While our partners at the Heritage Trust have evolved into an effective and accomplished conservation organization, they will call upon the San Juan Preservation Trust on occasion to assist in their efforts. The Otto Preserve, a 70-acre property comprised of wetland, forest, meadow and rocky outcrops, is an example of how these two partners can work together to accomplish important and lasting conservation on Lummi Island.

Although the Heritage Trust had the capability to undertake this $900,000 acquisition project, it sought advice and technical support from the Preservation Trust which, at the time, was a much more experienced organization.  It took over a year and a half, but the Heritage Trust worked tirelessly within its community and beyond to secure funding to purchase and protect this important piece of Lummi Island. The success was celebrated in July of 2000 when over 150 islanders and friends gathered to dedicate the Otto Preserve.

While the Lummi Island Heritage Trust had no intention of ever selling the Otto Preserve, they granted a conservation easement to the San Juan Preservation Trust to legally ensure that the property remains intact and protected in perpetuity. “We thought of the San Juan Preservation Trust as a partner throughout this process,” explained Dana Kershner, who was Executive Director of the Lummi Island Heritage Trust at the time of this transaction. “Granting a conservation easement to the San Juan Preservation Trust provided an additional level of protection and stewardship for the land. In a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world we feel it is the most effective way to help ensure the long term care of our investment.”

That “investment” promises impressive payoffs for future generations. The Otto Preserve’s extensive wetland is a haven for resident and migratory waterfowl. A diverse hillside forest shelters an important watershed and is superb habitat for warblers, woodpeckers, and a variety of raptors. As open space viewed from the county road and other island vantage points, the land provides a welcome rest from the built environment. An old shed at the edge of the property was renovated in early 2005, and now serves as the Lummi Island Heritage Trust’s office.

The San Juan Preservation Trust is pleased and honored to be a partner in protecting the natural and cultural history of Lummi Island, an important piece of our San Juan Islands landscape.