Island Dispatch | Spring 2018

SAVING ISLAND MARBLE

Enriching our islands’ web of life, one butterfly at a time

Susan Vernon

The Salish sun shines down on patches of blooming field mustard near the shore of southern San Juan Island. This is the last stronghold of the island marble—one of the rarest butterflies in the world, found only here in our midst. As another field season begins, the San Juan Preservation Trust is playing a vital role in efforts to bring this beautiful butterfly back from the brink of extinction.

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YOU’RE INVITED TO OUR ANNUAL MEETING

Please join us on Saturday, May 5, from 11:30am to 1:30pm at the San Juan Island Yacht Club for the Preservation Trust’s 39th official family gathering. It’s always a pleasant time to rub elbows with fellow SJPT members, enjoy a good lunch, and catch up on what the Preservation Trust has been up to since the last meeting.

This year’s gathering is especially momentous, as we bid farewell to Tim Seifert upon his retirement and welcome Angela Anderson as the organization’s fifth executive director since its founding in 1979. Angela will be our featured speaker after the business portion of the meeting wraps up.

At the top of the business agenda is the announcement of results from our annual election of trustees. The board’s Nominating Committee invests an enormous amount of time in searching, vetting, and recruiting trustee candidates of the highest caliber. Please read the bios of this year’s candidates here: sjpt.org/2018election. Then vote by filling in and mailing the enclosed card, which doubles as your Annual Meeting invitation and RSVP card. Ballots and meeting registrations are due by April 27.

MEET OUR VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: CAMILLE UHLIR

Camille Uhlir and her husband, Jim, wanted their beloved Two Barn Farm on San Juan Island to be permanently protected. Seeking to conserve its unique mix of conifer forest, sweeping open fields, quiet ponds, and Garry oaks, they worked with the Preservation Trust to place conservation easements on the farm in the 1990s.

But Camille recognized that the act of protecting land is just part of a fully rounded conservation story. When the San Juan Islands Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project got underway in 2007, SJPT staff recognized that Two Barn Farm abounded in the kind of habitat that bluebirds prefer. When approached, Camille welcomed several nest boxes and temporary aviaries on the farm.

Camille soon threw herself into the project. With binoculars in hand, she searched her fields on spring mornings for the brief flashes of blue signaling the arrival of the bluebirds she had grown to love. “Feeding mealworms to the birds is a labor of love,” Camille says. “Going out early in the morning to find the birds ‘waiting’ is the best—followed closely by participating in the banding of the nestlings and sharing a spotting scope with friends and neighbors.”

All told, 47 baby bluebirds have found their wings on the Uhlirs’ farm over the past 11 years. We don’t know of a finer nesting ground, or a better steward, to see them on their way.

CAMILLE UHLIR ASSISTS WITH THE BANDING | PHOTO BY DYLAN CLINE