Island Dispatch | August 2015


A Hidden Gem

JK Fox

There is a hidden gem at the heart of San Juan Island. And we now have a chance to save it. The proposed Mount Grant Preserve boasts stunning 360-degree views and important habitats, but just as importantly it is a place accessible to everyone. Because in addition to wonderful hiking opportunities, it has a good road all the way to the summit.

Early this spring I stood on that peak with my father, who is eighty, and my son, who is five, neither of whom would have walked to the top. But because of that road, three generations of my family could enjoy Mount Grant together. And as we stood there, with mist blowing through the old growth firs around us, and gorgeous views appearing and disappearing between the clouds, my son turned to me and said, “Papa, I feel like we’re not even on San Juan Island anymore.”



Wondering what to do with a bored teenager during summer months? Encourage them to enlist in the Youth Conservation Corps! Now 12 to 15-year-olds have an opportunity to earn money while providing a service to their community. The Youth Conservation Corps, working throughout the San Juan Islands, provides everything from trail clearing to invasive weed control on public and private lands. As the kids learn hands-on skills, they also receive conservation education and leadership training.

The San Juan Preservation Trust has been a supporter of this fledging program for several years. In 2013, the YCC helped build a new trail on the Preservation Trust’s Graham Preserve on Shaw Island. A group of 16 middle and high school students enjoyed a working camping trip—toting Pulaskis and a cross- cut saw. Working with hand tools taught them the rewards of hard work and good communication at a pace slow enough to observe nature.

The Preservation Trust also enlisted the YCC to help control invasive Scotch broom at Hanson Marsh on Orcas Island. They discovered that teamwork in a collaborative group was the best way to tackle this job. At the end of the day, a huge pile of weeds and a cleared meadow were testament to their hard work.

Funding for the program is administered through the Madrona Institute. Find out more at


“We fell in love with the islands shortly after moving to Seattle. One of our first camping trips was to Moran State Park, and getting there was part of the magic, slipping past gorgeous forested gems. The hike to the top of Mount Constitution did it! We knew then that we would find our way back, to a place that felt so completely like home.”

It took almost a decade, but Paul Beaudet and David Wertheimer did find their way back, to Guemes Island. While not there, they are in Seattle, focusing on issues they both care deeply about: habitat—for people and for wildlife. Paul works for Wilburforce Foundation, which funds the preservation of wildlife and wildlands. David works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he leads the foundation’s efforts to address the needs of families struggling with housing instability.

Paul co-chaired the Campaign to Save Guemes Mountain. “It’s one of our regular haunts. We hike to the summit to enjoy sweeping views and wildflowers, and to stop along the trail to chat with neighbors and friends.”

Paul and David look forward to retiring to their Guemes home in the decades ahead, and to spending more time being part of their island community.

Paul and David are members of the Gann Society.

Contributed Photo