Ellis Family Donates Record-Breaking Shaw Island Preserve

On the last day of 2017, a closing took place that represents the largest donation—as measured in both acres and appraised value—that the Preservation Trust has ever received. The newly created Ellis Family Preserve spans 345 acres and includes well over a mile of pristine shoreline on southwestern Shaw Island, bordering Parks and Hicks Bays. …


This magnificent property encompasses various types of landscapes—fields, forests, shoreline, and a large pond. It also includes many structures that we will need to care for—houses, lots of outbuildings, a water tower, a dam, and a dock onto sheltered Parks Bay.

The Preservation Trust already held a conservation easement on the property (which Fred and Marilyn Ellis donated in 1989), so its many natural values were already protected. Now that we own it, we assume responsibility for maintaining the structures and caring for the property, in perpetuity—a major undertaking for SJPT’s stewardship staff and resources. (Story continued below video.)

With ownership comes responsibility, but owning the property also opens up exciting possibilities for SJPT to do more than just ensure that its natural values are protected. Our long-term vision includes allowing limited public access to portions of the preserve and creating a trail system. First, however, we must tackle the daunting task of cleaning up the buildings, assessing their contents, and developing a long-term stewardship plan.

The planning process will take time. We want to be sensitive to the Ellis family’s wishes and the local community’s needs. Plus, there are LOTS of things we need to do and figure out during the transition phase. The Preservation Trust has formed a steering committee of board members (including two Shaw residents) and staff to begin the process.

We will keep the community posted on developments as the pieces fall into place.

If you haven’t already, read Tim Seifert’s tribute to Fred Ellis, Sr. (1916-2010), whose love for Mother Earth—and the San Juan Preservation Trust—inspired this magnificent donation by his heirs.

Also, listen to the voice of Fred Ellis, Sr., himself in this video tribute made not long before his death by J.K. Fox.