Click on the image for the December 2013 issue of the Island Dispatch.
Turtlehead Preserve Now Accessible Through Turtleback Mountain Preserve
On Saturday, August 24, about two dozen supporters gathered to help celebrate the connection of Turtleback Mountain Preserve to Turtlehead Preserve with the completion of a new trail. The project was made possible through the San Juan Preservation Trust’s acquisition of an adjoining 111-acre property (the “neck” in the iconic turtle-shaped ridgeline) which had separated the two preserves.
Following the ribbon-cutting, guests made the inaugural hike to Turtlehead Preserve and its unsurpassed views of San Juan and Canadian islands.
Visit the Preservation Trust’s Facebook page for a photo album of the event.
Hikers may access the new trail from the North Trailhead of Turtleback Mountain Preserve (off Crow Valley Road, next to the historic schoolhouse). A hike of 1.5 miles takes visitors to the Waldron Overlook, where the new trail begins. Another 1.2 miles of hiking with moderate elevation gain terminates at Turtlehead Preserve, with its stunning wildflowers and native grasslands. Hikers are requested to stay on the trail to minimize impact to the area. The new trail is strictly for pedestrian use; no bikes or horses are allowed.
The Campaign to Complete Turtleback is $55,000 away from reaching its goal of $1.15 million, which includes the $1.0 million purchase price and $115,000 for transaction and trail building costs. Support has come from the San Juan Preservation Trust’s acquisition funds, lead gifts from five Orcas Island families, and 202 additional donors. A “Cap Turtleback” initiative was created to inspire broad-based community participation in the campaign, and every donor of $50 or more will receive a Turtleback baseball cap.
Summer greetings from Vendovi Island!
With pleasant temperatures and cloudless, sunny skies, the past few weeks have been perfect for visiting Vendovi Island. We calculate that since May, over 900 people have ventured out to the island for recreational purposes. Visitors have come out solo, in pairs and in groups* to explore the island, picnic on Sunset Beach and hike out to the overlook at Paintbrush Point.
We’ve heard that visitors are also enjoying their chats with our resident caretakers, Heather and Shawn, who have the great fortune this summer to experience the wonders of Vendovi on a daily basis. Typical entries in Heather and Shawn’s daily journal include:
… We spotted a humpback near the entrance to the harbor on our way back from Bellingham. Yesterday we spotted a handful of small dead fish on the beach at Sunrise which we suspect might have been spawning smelt.
… Shawn went out in the dinghy to try to catch a pod of orcas traveling between Viti Rocks and Carter Point on Lummi.
…This morning my dad got this great picture of a garter snake.
…We have an amazing display of blooming ocean spray throughout the island and the rein orchids are also blooming.
…I forgot to mention that we met a wonderful woman this week – Barbara Reid came to see the island her late friend, Rachel Adams, worked to help preserve … Barbara entertained us with amazing stories of her adventures … she mentioned that she is spearheading a committee to install 3 memorials for Peter Puget on Blake Island, Cutts Island and Olympia. She has a blog for the project. What a wonderful and inspiring woman!
Other recent visitors to Vendovi have been doing more than chatting. Western Washington University students conducted a study of intertidal species, and students from the Northwest Indian College have conducted botanical research. We were blessed (once again) to welcome a crew of strong, hard-working youth from the Washington Conservation Corps to the island to relocate a trail-end away from a sensitive grassland area, and a second crew of wonderful all-purpose SJPT volunteers to do the thankless job of removing invasive plants, primarily holly and sweetbriar rose.
As to the care and maintenance of the non-native structures, our 2013 volunteer of the year Peter Willing continues to do a yeoman’s job of repairing, refurbishing and replacing the infrastructure around the house and outbuildings for safer, more efficient operation. (Until we know for a fact that we are able to retain ownership of Vendovi, none of the existing infrastructure will be removed.)
And speaking of retaining ownership of Vendovi, here’s a brief fundraising update: we’ve now raised $920,000 towards the $1.0 million challenge grant, but we must raise the remaining $80,000 by October 1. If we succeed with that goal, we will have:
Please help us spread the word that the Campaign to Save Vendovi Island is not yet over. If you’ve not already done so, please consider contributing today!
* All are welcome but we require groups of 10 or more to check in with us in advance at 360/468-3202.
You and your guests are warmly invited to
PRESERVATION TRUST’S 6TH ANNUAL
An event to celebrate 35 years of land conservation in
the San Juan Islands, applaud our members, past and present, and admire
the conservation legacy left to us by Dodie and Ernie Gann.
Saturday, August 3, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Red Mill Farm on San Juan Island
$15 suggested donation per adult
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360/468-3202.
Mark your calendars and let us know if you can pitch in!
We will depart from Orcas Island’s Leiberhaven Dock at Obstruction Pass at 8:45 am; depart from Vendovi at 3:45 pm. Max 10 participants.
Thursday, June 20: Orcas Island Scotch broom pull on private land conserved by SJPT.
We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 2 pm. There is no limit to the number of participants for this work party!
Thursday, July 18: Lopez Island Holly eradication on private land conserved by SJPT.
We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 2 pm. There is no limit to the number of participants for this work party!
Friday, July 19: Shaw Island Trail Building on the Graham Preserve.
We will begin at 10 am and work until approximately 3 pm. Limited to 10-12 participants.
Thursday, August 29: Waldron Island Blackberry picking.
Yes, blackberry picking, on the Cowlitz Bay Preserve. Our motto is: “if you can’t beat ‘em….eat ‘em!” Blackberries will be made into “Preserve Preserves” as a special signature product to benefit SJPT. Limited to 6 participants. SJPT will provide private boat transportation from Orcas Island. Plan on a full day; times will be confirmed later.
To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Kathleen Foley, Program Director, 360.378.2461 or email@example.com.
Kathleen will confirm all details with registered participants approximately one week in advance of the event.
We hope to see you out on some of these remarkable properties this year!
Vendovi is open for the season!
On May 1 at 10 am, we unlocked the gate at the Vendovi dock to welcome visitors for the season. Since the final 2012 visitors departed last fall, Vendovi has undergone some meadow restoration. It has been the subject of a land mammal survey (two is the total inventory so far!) and a tidelands survey (30 algae species counted), and it has received new resident caretakers. Heather and Shawn.
Heather Bansmer and Shawn Breeding have lived in Bellingham for the past sixteen years, spending their down time exploring the waters from the San Juans Islands south to Mexico on board their 32-foot sailboat, Om Shanti. The two also operate a small publishing company and are authors of several guidebooks for boaters.
When the island opened for visitors on May 1, Vendovi held in store plentiful wildflowers (camas, paintbrush, spring gold and chocolate lilies); contemplative silence on forest trails; and beaches swept pristine-clean with the tides. It’s a dreamy place, so it’s natural it has recently been the subject of tweets, Facebook posts and “pins”, as well as tales extolling its beauty via old-fashioned word-of-mouth. The popularity of Vendovi as a boating, kayaking and water taxi destination is growing by leaps and bounds, and we anticipate that the island will host many guests this summer. The first weekend in May, we logged 96 visitors!
We’re thinking, with some hesitation, this popularity is a good thing…isn’t it? After all, maintaining the island for educational, scientific and leisure purposes is one part of our goal, balanced with protecting the island and its natural assets in perpetuity. Determining how we achieve both aspects of this goal is a complex process we will undertake shortly.
How should we care for the island year-round, and what level of staffing does that take? What physical infrastructure is needed? Should commercial boat operators be given free license to bring clients to the island? What size groups should be accommodated? What additional way-finding signage is needed? Can the island be reserved for special events? These questions, and more, have arisen as we contemplate the future of Vendovi Island in the care of the Preservation Trust. A Vendovi “visioning” committee is being convened to help shape the long-term stewardship plan for the island.
But before we get too deep in long-term planning, we have to know that we can finish paying for Vendovi.
Here’s the current status of our fundraising campaign: we have only $130,000 left to raise towards our $1 million challenge grant, but we must have it all in hand by October 1. You can help. If you have already supported the “Campaign to Save Vendovi Island” (thank you!), please tell others about it. And if you haven’t supported the campaign, please consider doing so.
In fact, you may want to do so next Wednesday. On May 15, from midnight to midnight (Pacific Time), The Seattle Foundation will host its third annual GiveBIG. To sweeten the pot, our wonderful supporters and Vendovi champions Gary and Grace Christophersen have offered a challenge – they will match every gift made through GiveBIG that is earmarked for Vendovi, up to $2,500. Additionally, all gifts made through GiveBIG will be “stretched” with dollars raised by The Seattle Foundation. To direct your GiveBIG gift to the Vendovi challenge, be sure to write “Vendovi” in the Comments field.
The Seattle Foundation’s third annual GiveBIG is TODAY from midnight to midnight. This marathon fundraising event was designed to inspire people to give generously to the nonprofit organizations that enrich their communities. The Seattle Foundation has also raised a “stretch” pool of funding that will be distributed to beneficiary organizations in a prorated fashion.
Supporters of the San Juan Preservation Trust are encouraged to participate in GiveBIG today if they’ve not yet become members or renewed their membership, or if they wish to make an additional gift. Gifts made through GiveBIG can be directed to the annual fund, the Campaign to Save Vendovi Island, the Campaign to Complete Turtleback, our Stewardship Fund, Acquisition Fund or Endowment Fund. If you wish to earmark your gift, please type the campaign or fund name on the comment line when making your gift.
SPECIAL CHALLENGE FOR VENDOVI — Generous Preservation Trust supporters Gary and Grace Christophersen have stepped forward with a special challenge — they will match all gifts up to $2,500 that are made through GiveBIG and that are earmarked for the Campaign to Save Vendovi Island. To direct your GiveBIG gift to the Vendovi challenge, be sure to write “Vendovi” in the Comments field.
To recap, GiveBIG is:
If you have any questions, please contact Diana Stepita, Director of Membership, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360/378-2461.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Today President Obama signed a proclamation designating approximately 970 acres of federally owned land as the San Juan Islands National Monument. These lands will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management for conservation and recreation purposes.
You may link to the full text of text of the San Juan Islands Proclamation signed into effect by President Obama.
Friday, March 22, 2013
The White House announced last night that President Obama intends to create a new San Juan Islands National Monument on federal lands currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) throughout the San Juan Islands. This announcement will be made on Monday of next week.
We couldn’t be more pleased.
This designation comes in response to a community grassroots effort that began almost three years ago, and will apply to approximately 1,000 acres that are located throughout our archipelago. These lands, which include over 60 uninhabited islands, headlands and lighthouse properties, provide exceptional wildlife habitat and some of the most popular recreation destinations in the region. Cattle Point (San Juan Island), Iceberg Point and Watmough Bight (Lopez Island), Turn Point (Stuart Island), Carter Point (the southern tip of Lummi Island) and Patos Island are just a few of many natural treasures that would be permanently protected by this presidential proclamation.
The Preservation Trust’s goal was to ensure the highest level of protection for these important federal properties while providing a strong local voice in their management. This proclamation will fully satisfy our objectives, and we are pleased to announce our enthusiastic support for this outcome. The San Juan Islands National Monument will only includes land that is already under federal ownership – it will not apply to any private land in the islands, nor does it authorize any additional land acquisitions. The BLM will continue to manage these lands under their new National Monument status.
On behalf of these islands that we all love, THANK YOU to the many volunteers, organizations, local businesses and elected officials who demonstrated the power of community. It has been an honor for the San Juan Preservation Trust to play a part in this historic effort.
For more information about the pending San Juan Islands National Monument, visit www.SanJuanIslandsNM.org.
Young Orcas Island native Will Fisher has set his sights on a career as a professional photographer and videographer, so his 2012 internship with the San Juan Preservation Trust was a perfect fit. Fisher, 19, graduated last spring from the photography program at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. He has spent the past several months roaming the San Juan Islands with his camera, capturing the natural beauty of the Preservation Trust’s conserved lands. His internship took him to several outer islands and remote properties, but his final assignment brought him back home to Orcas to promote the protection of a place that is near to his heart: Turtleback Mountain.
In late 2012, the Preservation Trust launched an effort to purchase a 111-acre property that separates the Turtleback Mountain Preserve from the Trust’s lesser-known Turtlehead Preserve and create a new public trail that connects these three properties. Until now, the Turtlehead Preserve – with its spectacular wildflowers, native grasslands, windswept forests and 360 views of surrounding islands – has been surrounded by private land and inaccessible to the public. With almost $1.2 million of this $1.3 million project already raised, the Preservation Trust, with Will’s help, hopes its “Campaign to Complete Turtleback Mountain” can identify the remaining $105,000 needed to complete this effort.
To provide a glimpse of what few have ever seen, Fisher made several trips up Turtlehead over a four month period, bushwhacking his way across the planned trail route. “I’ve been exploring Turtlehead since I was a kid, so this was a great opportunity to share this amazing place with others,” said Will. “I hope that my video will inspire other islanders to help the Preservation Trust make this place accessible for everyone. We must help preserve the single most beautiful living thing – Nature — if not for ourselves, then for the generations to come. If we don’t, it will simply vanish.”
The result is a fast-paced, 2-minute video that transports viewers from the Turtleback Mountain Preserve to Turtlehead. Join Will on his virtual tour. You may also see several of Will’s still photos of Turtleback Mountain and Turtlehead Preserve at www.willafisher.com.