2013 was a good year at the Preservation Trust. We added over 200 acres and a mile of shoreline to our network of protected properties on Orcas, Stuart, San Juan and Lummi Islands. Yet the numbers don’t really tell the story: dig deeper* and you will see critical habitat protected for fish and endangered plant species, old growth forests, rich agricultural lands, scenic coastlines and popular roadside views enjoyed every single day by islanders and visitors. In 2013 we took a big step towards ensuring a healthy future for our islands.
We are equally excited about two additional projects that wrapped up in 2013. While these will never appear on the map showing our own protected lands, we participated in a partnership that added 70 acres and a half mile of shoreline to the National Park Service’s British Camp on San Juan Island, and we provided logistical support for a grassroots effort to designate the San Juan Islands National Monument. Signed by President Obama, this designation permanently protects over 60 undeveloped islands, headlands and lighthouse properties throughout our archipelago.
As the pace of our land acquisition activities has accelerated, we are dedicating more and more of our organizational capacity to stewardship. Caring for the places we protect is a perpetual responsibility: a painstaking, resource-intensive and (literally) dirty enterprise. But our stewardship program also provides us with a tremendous opportunity to share with others the satisfaction of land conservation. Partnerships and volunteers are critical to these efforts, which include land restoration, monitoring of our preserves and conservation easements, and providing people with access to some of our favorite places. In 2013, we engaged both partners and volunteers to add several miles of trails on carefully selected preserves.
This month the San Juan Preservation Trust is celebrating its 35thanniversary. The organization’s effectiveness can be directly attributed to the support it has received from thousands of households, foundations and businesses; the shared vision and commitment of private property owners; and the many islanders – men, women and children – who have dedicated their time and their talents to our mission.
Working together, we’ve accomplished far more than our founders could have ever dreamed.