Signs of the late ’70s: The Village People, Charlie’s Angels, Skylab, Apple II

April 18, 2019 – Thanks to all our amazing supporters and partners over the years, the San Juan Preservation Trust celebrates its 40th birthday this week.

Concerned about rapid development in San Juan County (population rose a staggering 350 percent from 1960 to 1990) and resulting threats to the islands’ natural beauty—coupled with a lack of land-use planning in San Juan County—a group of citizens founded the Preservation Trust in 1979.

One member of the founding group, Seattle attorney Frank S. Bayley, II, signed and notarized the organization’s Articles of Incorporation on April 18. The document was filed with the Washington Secretary of State on Friday, April 20. Auspiciously, SJPT was born just two days before Earth Day, 1979.

“My father, Frank S. Bayley, was the incorporator,” recalled Frank S. Bayley, III, in a 2018 interview. “He resigned immediately and appointed me and my brothers, Tom and Doug, as the first trustees. We in turn appointed the rest of the officers and additional board members.”

According to archival records, the additional board members who began serving in 1979 were Samuel Fleming, James Klauder, Charles Livesey, Robert Schoen, and Linda Henry.

At that time, Linda Henry also served as a San Juan County Commissioner. “Linda had discovered a land trust in New England,” Frank said. The concept of private, nonprofit land trusts was fairly new at the time. Not many of them existed, but “she felt this would be a good model for the San Juan Preservation Trust.

“Secretly,” Frank added, “one of our motives at the time was the preservation of Turtleback Mountain, which belonged at that time to Linda’s stepfather [Norton Clapp]. She was very concerned about it. The thought was that we should design something that Norton Clapp would find appealing and would make use of. We were slightly naïve. But anyway, that was one of our big objectives.” Not until 2006 (11 years after after Norton Clapp passed away) would the founders’ hopes of preserving Turtleback be fulfilled—after the Preservation Trust successfully concluded the largest fundraising campaign in San Juan County history.

The Preservation Trust’s founders and early supporters wanted to find ways for private landowners to conserve natural and historic features of their land voluntarily, independent of government process or regulations. Recent state legislation made it possible for nonprofit organizations to hold conservation easements—legal documents that private landowners can use to voluntarily protect conservation values of their land that benefit the public, such as open spaces, iconic views, forests, and natural shoreline.

Tom Bayley (left) and his brother, Frank, recalling SJPT history in 2018

To put this legislation to work in preserving these islands’ extraordinary beauty and unique way of life, the San Juan Preservation Trust became the first conservation land trust in the state of Washington. The Preservation Trust was at that time, and remains today, a pioneering organization at the forefront of private land conservation in the United States.

Together with its landowner partners and 3,000 member-supporters, the Preservation Trust has, in its first 40 years, permanently protected more than 300 properties, 45 miles of shoreline, 27 miles of trails and 18,000 acres on 20 islands.

SJPT also engages its members and the wider public with events, outings, and publications designed to deepen and expand awareness of the need for, and benefits of, land conservation in the islands.

We invite you to join in celebrating SJPT’s 40th anniversary throughout the year as we roll out our new vision and mission statements, which elevate the importance of reaching out to our communities to “Connect people to nature, to each other, and to the Preservation Trust.” Two good ways to celebrate and connect:

  1. Join us for one of our 2019 guided outings or volunteer work parties.
  2. Donate a special “$40 (or $400) for the 40th” gift.