FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2015
New Nature Preserve for San Juan Island?
Preservation Trust, Land Bank Take First Steps to Secure “Mount Grant”
The San Juan Preservation Trust and the San Juan County Land Bank are collaborating on an exciting land acquisition project on San Juan Island that, if successful, will become an extraordinary nature preserve accessible to all.
Long valued by adventurous hikers willing to trespass to capture its stunning 360-degree views, this 141-acre ridgetop property had been subdivided into twelve view lots and listed for sale as “Lawson Ridge,” an exclusive residential development. A portion of this property drains into Trout Lake, the Town of Friday Harbor’s primary source of drinking water, and includes important native plant and animal habitat, lush wildflower meadows, miles of trails, and easy road access to the summit and its spectacular panoramic views.
On March 9th, the San Juan Preservation Trust, a private non-profit land trust, and the San Juan County Land Bank, an agency of San Juan County, made a $1.0 million down payment on the $3.0 million purchase. A $2.0 million seller-financed loan is secured by the land itself; should this conservation partnership default on this loan, the sellers would likely re-list the lots for sale as private residential estates.
The Preservation Trust will launch a community fundraising campaign on San Juan Island to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the purchase. “If we succeed, this could provide San Juan Island with the very first place where visitors with mobility restrictions can enjoy such sweeping vistas,” said Tim Seifert, Executive Director of the San Juan Preservation Trust. “We all have friends or family that are elderly, or physically disabled, or that have young children unable to hike up to the few dramatic outlooks we have on this island. Imagine how much fun it would be to share this place with them.”
“There is still a lot of fundraising to do, but it is very clear that the San Juan Island community cares deeply about this place,” said Lincoln Bormann, Director of the San Juan County Land Bank. “Once you go up there and take in those views, you can understand why so many islanders have come to us to ask for our help.”
Early San Juan Island maps identify this ridgeline as “Mount Grant,” and this historical name will be honored in the new preserve. If fundraising is successful, the “Mount Grant Preserve” will be owned and managed by the Land Bank, and the Preservation Trust will hold a conservation easement that permanently protects its natural values and ensures public access.
The Preservation Trust will launch “The Campaign to Save Mount Grant” in April. “We will be casting a wide net and making it easy for everyone to participate,” said Thor Hanson, co-chair of the Campaign. “Mount Grant has so much to offer, and we need our whole island community to play a part in making it a reality.”