San Juan Preservation Trust

Island Dispatch | February 2017

Gift From the Heart

A Major Donation Hits a High-Priority Sweet Spot

San Juan County Land Bank

Last month, both the San Juan Preservation Trust and the San Juan County Land Bank were thrilled to acknowledge a wonderful year-end gift: Sarah Hart, a member of the Preservation Trust’s Board of Trustees, donated 80 undeveloped acres with approximately 3,000 feet of shoreline on Henry Island.*

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Sarah worked with the Preservation Trust to craft a conservation easement, which she donated to the Trust; then she deeded the protected property to the Land Bank.

“It’s a wonderful conservation property and a very generous donation,” says Debby Clausen, the Preservation Trust’s Conservation Director. “This land lies at the heart of one of our highest-priority areas for conservation in the islands. It includes important salmon shoreline, seabird habitat, Garry oak savannah, and upland forest. We’ve had our eyes on Sarah’s property for a long time.”

The parcel spans the full width of H-shaped Henry Island’s southwest lobe, with natural shoreline fronting both Haro Strait and Open Bay. The rocky face of Kellett Bluff extends northward along the Haro Strait shoreline well into the Hart Conservation Easement. Pelagic cormorants nest on steep cliff s while orca whales often feed in the waters below.

Sarah was a young mother and wife in the early 1970s when she and her husband purchased the land. “We bought it because it was beautiful—and a bargain,” she says with a chuckle. “Land on outer islands was not so expensive in those days.”

The conservation easement allows the Land Bank to provide public access to beaches on Open Bay via noncommercial watercraft, like kayaks, but only for day trips. It also allows for ceremonial visits by members of the Lummi Nation, who once had a fishing settlement on the property. The Land Bank will manage the preserve.

Sarah says, “I’m glad I will always be able to go there and other people can also, yet have it remain wild forever.”

* All transactions involving SJPT trustees are guided by our Conflict of Interest Policy, a requirement of all accredited land trusts. Read our Conflict of Interest Policy.



We learned on January 5 that Zylstra Lake, another of our joint projects with the San Juan County Land Bank, was awarded a $1 million coastal wetlands grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In the words of the USFWS news release, “the project will protect and reintegrate a network of lakes, wetlands and riparian areas with the ocean and protect associated water rights necessary for future stream restoration projects.” This grant brings us a big step closer towards acquiring the 283-acre Zylstra Lake property.

The next step, which we are eagerly anticipating, is final word on a $1.1 million grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. We won’t know the outcome of this grant application until the legislature passes the state’s 2017-19 biennial budget, likely sometime in April or May.

New Signs Take Root

Back in 2015, we embarked on a signage program with a company called SeaReach, based in Yamhill, Oregon. The program’s goal: to enhance visitor enjoyment and protect conservation values on a few carefully-selected nature preserves that can accommodate public access. We chose SeaReach based on their portfolio of attractive, simply designed signs created for Yellowstone, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks; the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Scenic Byway; the Columbia River Gorge, and many other prominent outdoor locations. It’s taken a few years to get this program off the ground, but we’re pleased we can now say that visitors to three of our protected properties—Sally’s Garden (at the site of the Lopez farmers market), Graham Preserve on Shaw Island, and Peach Preserve on Guemes Island—can see our first crop of signs.

Peach and Graham Preserves display three types of visual markers: boundary indicators (like the wooden post pictured above), regulatory signs listing rules such as “NO CAMPING,” and interpretive panels that provide insights into the preserves’ conservation values and human history. Similar signage systems are in the works for Turtlehead Preserve and Vendovi Island Preserve. They’ll be in the ground by the end of this summer. In the meantime, if you visit Sally’s Garden, Peach Preserve, or Graham Preserve, please take a look at the new signs and tell us what you think.

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Mt Grant success

Yes, We Did It Again

The ascent was at times steep and took two years, but a burst of year-end generosity boosted the $4.2 million Campaign for Mount Grant Preserve to its glorious summit.

Thor Hanson and Keith Wentworth, Preservation Trust board members and co-chairs of the Steering Committee, guided this campaign from start to finish. It was truly a grassroots effort in which 862 individuals and families contributed 1,251 gifts (many people gave two or even three times).

Without the Steering Committee’s resourceful, persistent leadership, the 141-acre Mount Grant property might have eventually reverted to the seller. Instead, it’s now permanently protected as a public nature preserve—one of just a few places in the islands where young children, seniors, and other folks with limited mobility can experience “Wow”-inspiring, 360-degree views of our beautiful place in the world.

Mark your calendars for a special event at Mount Grant Preserve to celebrate this conservation victory on June 17.

Alongside those hundreds of you who supported the Mount Grant campaign are hundreds more who recently renewed your membership or joined the Preservation Trust family in support of protecting and caring for special places throughout the San Juan archipelago.

We ♥ you, our dear friends and supporters!

See our special 2017 Valentine’s Day message!

The Gann Society is a group of individuals who have notified us that they have provided for the San Juan Preservation Trust in their estate plans. Their planned giving will help protect the San Juan Islands forever.