After relocating to Seattle from the east coast more than 30 years ago, Michael Popiwny was immediately drawn to the San Juan Islands because of his love of the natural environment and the raw beauty of the archipelago. In 2005, Michael and his husband, Paul, purchased land at the foot of Mount Dallas on San Juan Island and began developing the home they share today. It has become a base for hiking, kayaking, and exploring.
Michael’s interests have always focused on the environment, education, habitat protection, land use planning, and understanding and respecting historic and cultural settlement patterns. His training as an undergraduate in environmental design and, in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, in landscape architecture and large-scale land use planning, laid the foundation for his career in both the private and public sectors.
Michael’s work in negotiation, project management, planning, habitat restoration, design, and construction oversight in the Pacific Northwest includes the creation of 26 acres of public parkland surrounding the West Point Treatment Facility in Seattle, the Master Plan for King County Parks, and the Central Waterfront Project for the Port of Seattle.
Michael recently retired from his position with King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, where for more than 15 years he oversaw the siting, design, and construction of the $1.9 billion regional wastewater treatment facility now named Brightwater. This project includes membrane water treatment, a 43-acre salmon habitat restoration, creation of 76 acres of public parkland, and the development of the Brightwater Center, a regional environmental education center.
“With retirement,” Michael says, “I’m allowed time to become active in the preservation and protection of the islands that I have come to love so deeply—to be able to focus on the place that is my home. I look forward to putting my interests and experience to work with the staff and the board of the San Juan Preservation Trust to carry on and build upon the wonderful work that the Trust has accomplished.”