San Juan Preservation Trust

Island Dispatch

Aug 2014

Photo by Danny Herbert


Of our many cherished donors, volunteers and landowners, a few stand apart. Katherine Mottola, with her husband Mat, donated her first conservation easement – 40 hilltop acres on San Juan Island – to the Preservation Trust in 1987. This gift represented a significant act of faith, as it was only the 10th conservation easement we had ever recorded. After moving to Lopez, Katherine and Mat donated another easement on their new 11-acre wildlife paradise. They were eager volunteers, serving as land stewards and charter members of our legendary Lopez mailing crew, and in 2005, they became our first “Volunteers of the Year”.

Since Mat’s passing in 2009, Katherine’s faith in our work has not wavered. Earlier this year, she donated her Lopez home to the Preservation Trust, reserving a life estate for herself and Mat’s daughter. Upon their passing, the Trust will decide whether to keep the protected property as a nature preserve or sell it with a conservation easement in place, and use the proceeds to protect other important places.

We recently dispatched a Washington Conservation Corps team to Katherine’s property to remove an infestation of English holly. “Look at all of this work,” she admired. “I feel so good about the future of this place now that it is in the Trust’s hands.”


The owner of an Anacortes bed & breakfast establishment has agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement to the San Juan Preservation Trust for illegally clear-cutting a portion of an SJPT-owned nature preserve.

The clear-cut property is part of the Preservation Trust’s 1.25-mile long “John H. Geary Shoreline Preserve,” a 38-acre waterfront preserve on the west side of Fidalgo Island. It is presumed that the owner of the bed & breakfast ordered the removal of the trees to enhance the views from his establishment. This action damaged important shoreline wildlife habit and destabilized a steep bank.

The Geary Preserve was permanently conserved in 1992 by a group of neighbors concerned about a proposed development on the property. The Preservation Trust has agreed to drop our pending lawsuit and we intend to use funds from the settlement to restore vegetation, re-stabilize the steep bank, and implement new strategies to avoid future violations.