Year(s) Protected: 1986 & 1993
Land Protected: 13 acres
Public Benefits: Wetlands, wildlife habitat
Spend a little time in the San Juans, and it becomes quickly apparent that this archipelago is blessed with an abundance of talented individuals. While our island culture frowns upon showiness or boasting, the collective knowledge and capabilities of the people in our midst is legendary. Many of the most accomplished women and men of our time have chosen to live and work in the San Juans, bringing their tremendous experiences to bear upon the future of these islands.
Dr. Frank Richardson was a professor of zoology at the University of Washington, where he headed the zoology division of the Burke Museum. After retirement in 1972, he continued his lifelong work by studying bird life on Cypress Island, eventually moving to Orcas Island in 1974 with his wife, Dorothy. Frank recognized that the continued survival of certain animal and plant species depended on the permanent protection of habitat, so he devoted the rest of his life to applying his academic background to the pursuit of land conservation in the San Juan Islands.
Frank observed that an unusually active marsh in his Deer Harbor neighborhood provided habitat for some 80 different species of birds. In 1986, one year after Frank passed away, Bob and Meg Connor donated a seven-acre conservation easement on the eastern part of this marsh to initiate a Preservation Trust effort to establish a preserve in honor of Richardson’s life. Following the Connor gift, the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Natural Resources issued a report that recognized this marsh as a top priority for preservation. David and Shirley MacBryer responded to this urgency in 1993 by donating another six acres of the wetland and adjacent uplands to the Preservation Trust’s preserve.
The combined 13-acre Frank Richardson Wildfowl Preserve, now marked by a memorial plaque along Channel Road, recognizes the life and passions of a remarkable man and the generosity and profound respect of two neighboring Orcas Island families.