Mount Grant Campaign Update


The Campaign to Save

CAMPAIGN UPDATE – September 1, 2015

WE DID IT! Thanks to contributors from 467 households, we raised over $500,000 since March 1, the start of the challenge grant generously provided by Eliot and Tina Scull. They will match all gifts up to a total of $500,000.

THE CAMPAIGN IS NOT COMPLETE. While we are very excited that we are more than halfway to the goal, we still have approximately $1,042,000 before we reach the project goal of $4,200,000.

SUNDAYS AT THE SUMMIT will be extended through September and October. Which means that if you’ve not yet visited the top of Mount Grant (or even if you have), you may drive it on Sundays between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. The property is open to hikers seven days a week, dawn until dusk.

JOIN TEAM MOUNT GRANT. Our “crowdfunding” campaign continues, and you can help by logging on, creating your own campaign in about 20 seconds, and asking your friends to support the Mount Grant campaign. Join Now!



San Juan Islanders Julie Gralow and Val Gorder take friends
Sally Jewell (U.S. Secretary of the Interior) and husband Warren Jewell
on a hike to the Mount Grant summit. Sally was very interested in the unique partnership
between the San Juan Preservation Trust and the San Juan County Land Bank
to protect this special island property.

Posted in News | Comments Off


On San Juan Island, Sundays at the Summit on Mount Grant have been very popular. Many islanders and visitors are taking advantage of the opportunity to drive to the top. This past Sunday, a group of children from Island Community Church were escorted up to take a look around. Eileen Drath, our volunteer “docent” on duty when they arrived, reported: “One little girl came up to the table with her counselor to hold out a one dollar bill. She wanted to give it to me for Mount Grant. I was touched.”

And the clock keeps ticking on our $500,000 challenge grant for the Mount Grant campaign, with a deadline of September 1. At this writing, we’re about $25,000 away from our goal! Well, $24,999, because of Sunday’s little visitor!

If you’d like to help us meet our September 1 deadline, here are a few simple ways you can do so:

1. If you’ve not already done so, make a gift!

2. Share the link to this campaign video with your network:

3. Join our TEAM MOUNT GRANT crowdfunding campaign. It’s easy and takes only a few minutes to set up, and then you are helping to secure Mount Grant Preserve for all!



Questions? Please contact Barbara Courtney, Director of Philanthropy, at 360/376-2431 or

Posted in News | Comments Off

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.Mount-Grant-Press-Release-f

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.”

Posted in News | Comments Off

Remembering Les Gunther (1925-2014)

Les Gunther, a longtime conservationist, community leader and San Juan Preservation Trust legend, has passed away at age 88. Les joined the Preservation Trust’s board of trustees in 1991 after he and his wife Betsy donated a conservation easement on their San Juan Island property. He served on the board for six years, including three years as president of the organization.

His family submitted the following remembrance:

Les Gunther

Lester Capell Gunther


Beloved patriarch, dear friend, irascible coot, Lester Gunther perished Monday at his home on False Bay.

Born Dec. 3, 1925 in Paris, France, Les moved at the age of six to Montclair, N.J. Dressed by his mother in Little-Lord-Fauntleroy attire, he quickly learned his first English sentence, “Me ‘Merican boy!” in vain effort to avoid pummeling by the New Jersey youth with whom he would eventually become fast friends.

Ejected from the Boy Scouts for shooting out streetlights with a slingshot, an act for which he would shoulder life-long contrition, Les confided various subsequent undertakings, including releasing captive bats into a crowded movie theater, and introducing a spraying skunk to a family event.

These acts presaged an enduring love of wildlife that would eventually lead him on collecting expeditions around the world as the head of the Steinhart Divers for the California Academy of Sciences.

Les volunteered for the Navy in 1943 at the age of 17, operating sonar on an escort vessel in the Pacific theater of WWII. “It was that or college,” he would explain.

After graduating from USC on the GI Bill, Les moved to Portland, Ore., where he would meet the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betsy) Thayer, pursuing her throughout her college career at Stanford and proposing, as they liked to relate, beside a pile from a horse stable in coastal Oregon.

He and Betsy bore two children who at times provided no small consternation, but for whom he would demonstrate unfailing affection, support and loyalty. Once they were grown, Les and Betsy were free to relocate from Burlingame, Calif. to the San Juans, designing and building their final home here which they dubbed “Ultima Thule”.

For 30 years Les and Betsy enjoyed, and contributed to the enjoyability of, Friday Harbor. Referred to by some as “The Emperor of San Juan,” by more as their favorite “curmudgeon”, Les liked nothing more than cooking a delicious meal for a banquet of guests and presiding over animated conversations with them.

An avid boatman, Les restored a number of classic wooden motor yachts and indulged in his love for hospitality by piloting friends about on CYA outings or just a sunny summer day. Whatever the occasion, Les was the consummate example of how to flavor it and how to savor it.

Les is survived by loving wife Betsy, daughter Gretchen, son-in-law Patrick, son Erik, and grandson Forrest. They will miss him terribly and be forever grateful to have shared lives with Les.

Les requested there be no memorial. A memorial will be held Saturday, July 26, 3 p.m. at 588 Mountain Shadows Lane. All are welcome. Carpool if you can.

Arrangements are in the care of Evans Funeral Chapel and Crematory, Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. To share memories of Les, please sign the online guest register at

— Family of Lester Gunther


Hole in the Forest

When a tree is felled

The bark is made into a boat

The sweetest wood into a lute

The branches roof a house

The hole

Where the tree grew

Soon greens with fern

The hole in the forest

Remains the color of the sky

And people have

No way of

Hiding the tree’s huge depth

— Michael Dansfield


Posted in News | Comments Off