Island Dispatch | Fall 2023


SJPT’s Land Stewards monitor protected lands each year to keep the promise of perpetuity

SJPT Land Steward Meghan Howard and landowner Annette Mazzarella chat during a monitoring visit | Staff Archive

Tucked away in a small, hidden valley north of the Orcas ferry landing lies a 10-acre parcel of land—a beautiful mix of forest and meadow. John and Annette Mazzarella fell in love with it after moving to Orcas from Seattle in 1998. Concerned about the half-acre residential zoning in the area, they donated a conservation easement on the property to the Preservation Trust in 2000.

“As part of the easement agreement,” Annette recalls, “the people at the Preservation Trust told us they would come out every year to monitor the property. I thought, that’s a really good idea, because there needs to be some sort of monitoring if these agreements are really to mean anything. “But that’s just part of it,” she adds. …

Board President Barbara Rosenkotter at Summer Social | Staff archive


“Barbara Rosenkotter, current Board President of the Preservation Trust, made the following remarks at SJPT’s Summer Social on August 5, 2023. They speak to a theme that’s highly relevant to our mission, so we’re sharing them here:””I was recently reading an article titled ‘How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier and More Creative.’ Overall, we are spending more time indoors and online. But recent studies show that being in nature has a profoundly positive impact on our brains and behaviors, helping reduce anxiety and stress, and increasing our attention, creativity, and ability to connect with other people.

“The article highlighted studies showing these results, and from the studies we are seeing changes in the brain and the body suggesting that we are physically and mentally healthier when we are interacting with nature. Being out in nature makes us feel alive and vital. It gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve stress, opens the door to creativity, and helps us be kind to others.

“All these benefits of being in nature add credibility and urgency to the goals of preserving natural spaces and spending more time immersed in the natural world.

“We are grateful for all the efforts of our volunteers and the generous support of our donors, who all make it possible for the San Jaun Preservation Trust to advance our mission of conserving special places in the San Juans, caring for the lands and waters under our protection, and connecting people to nature, to each other, and to the Preservation Trust.”

Now, let’s all get outside and take some deep breaths. Feel better? If so, it’s not just your imagination.


Staff members and volunteers of the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank and the Preservation Trust have worked diligently over the past year to restore and enhance public-access infrastructure on several preserves that the two organizations protect and care for in tandem. From drainage to demolition and trails to (split) rails, these projects (and more besides) will benefit preserve visitors now and in the not-too-distant future:

Beaverton trails: A year ago, the Land Bank quietly opened a new trailhead on the west side of Beaverton Marsh Preserve, on Halvorsen Rd. It’s the gateway to more than two miles of broad, smoothly graveled paths. On the east side of the preserve, a trail connecting John O. Linde Community Park with a marsh overlook will open this fall.

Turtleback culverts: The replacement of 20 undersized drainage culverts along Turtleback trails was part of the Land Bank’s ongoing ecological restoration and climate-change resiliency work on Turtleback Mountain Preserve. The Preservation Trust contributed $50,000 towards the $139,000 total cost of this project.

North Shore property: Though much work remains to be done before this waterfront preserve on Orcas Island opens for public access—likely a year from now—the Land Bank has been providing frequent tours, which will continue over the winter. Demolition of derelict cabins, sheds, and septic tanks will begin this fall.

Split rail fence on Turtlehead: SJPT staff and volunteers recently installed a new, improved cedar split-rail fence at the summit overlook. This work was done because some visitors were ignoring the existing fence, to the detriment of sensitive rocky bald habitat. Enjoy responsibly!

Beaverton Trail Sign| Staff Archive