The following are just some of the many restoration projects underway on our preserves:
Turtleback Mountain Preserve (Orcas Island)
This video illustrates how Garry oak habitat is being restored by “releasing” the oaks from competition. With the help of labor from Washington Conservation Corp crew members and professional sawyers, shade competing firs are removed from the overstory while the understory is cleared of invasive blackberries. This structural restoration allows the mature oaks to regain vigor and gives oak seedlings an opportunity to thrive.
Peach Preserve (Guemes Island)
A multi-year effort to eradicate invasive Scotch (Scot’s) broom (Cystius scoparius) on this property is yielding some encouraging results. When the San Juan Preservation Trust acquired these 64 acres of marine shoreline and freshwater marsh along Guemes Island’s southern shoreline in 2000 and 2007, we inherited several acres of Scotch broom that was clogging the beach above the high tide line. This invasion was threatening delicate wetlands and native wildflowers that had thrived in this sensitive zone. Yearly visits to the preserve with many hardworking volunteers have cleared the broom out almost in its entirety. Scotch broom is a tenacious foe in the San Juan Islands, so the Preservation Trust will continue to monitor and remove broom seedlings as they germinate to prevent them from establishing a stronghold again.
Jack Island Preserve
An island family donated the 18-acre Jack Island to the San Juan Preservation Trust in 2007. While the island is undeveloped and hosts a wide variety of wildlife, it also is home to a very thick undergrowth of invasive plants including English ivy (Hedera helix), English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). The Preservation Trust has relied on dedicated volunteers and crews from the Washington Conservation Corps (WWC) to systematically remove these plants to reduce the threat these invasives pose to our native flora. While we have made some significant progress, this eradication effort will need to continue for many years into the future.
West Side Conservation Easement (San Juan Island)
Several years ago, the caretaker for a shoreline property along San Juan Island’s west side discovered a beautiful little golden flower. This flower, which was on land protected by a San Juan Preservation Trust conservation easement, appeared after a large patch of snowberry and Nootka rose was cleared from a portion of the property that exhibited remnants of native prairie.
The wildflower was quickly identified as Golden Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), which is currently listed an endangered species in Washington State. A partnership that included the landowner, the San Juan Preservation Trust, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Washington Natural Heritage Program and other native plant enthusiasts developed a management plan to assure that this rare little flower, which only grows in a few places in the San Juan Islands, would be able to thrive in this location.
Soon after the San Juan Preservation Trust acquired the Vendovi Island preserve we learned that the prairies on the island – with their remarkably diverse suite of native wildflowers and grasses – would demand priority protection. Throughout the San Juan archipelago, remnant prairies are under threat from trees and shrubs which invade native grasslands and shade out native wildflowers. Left alone, the trees and shrubs will over time convert the prairie into forest. While some may logically argue that this is a natural progression and that we shouldn’t interfere, the prairies accommodate native species that are seen too rarely in these. Vendovi Island – due to its remoteness, lack of deer and other invasive species, and the simple fact that it is an entire island – is one of the few places that we can defend our restoration work and effectively protect these vanishing habitat.