San Juan Preservation Trust

Island Dispatch | June 2016


Little-Known Success Stories of Island Conservation
In this new, occasional feature of the Dispatch, we’d like to highlight some preserves under our care that are relatively unknown—either because they have received little or no previous publicity or because they are remote and inaccessible. These hidden gems are especially unspoiled examples of our islands’ natural features and habitat, now preserved forever thanks to visionary landowners and to you, our ongoing supporters.
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White Preserve

• Orcas Island
• Year protected: 2015
• Land protected: 18 acres
• Public access: No
• Public benefits: Old-growth remnants, rocky balds, wetlands

Upon her death in 2008, Natalie White bequeathed her 19-acre forested land above Orcas Island’s West Sound to a dear friend with the understanding that it would pass along to the San Juan Preservation Trust when her friend passed away or no longer wished to own the property. Last year, Natalie’s friend decided to transfer 18 of the 19 acres to the Preservation Trust (maintaining her interest in a one-acre house site). With this unheralded transaction, one of our newest preserves was brought under permanent protection.

Friends described Natalie White as a bon vivant who always spoke her mind. She was an extraordinary teacher and devoted lover of cats, guinea pigs, and raccoons. She delighted in her wooded “farm,” which she wanted to remain natural forever.

The White Preserve, like most of Orcas Island, is primarily regrowth forest, but it is home to a few old-growth cedar and Douglas-fir trees, plus a scattering of rocky balds (areas of bedrock with only thin soils) that host remnant native wildflowers and robust seaside junipers. The forest will be allowed to mature and evolve without disturbance. It is part of the Massacre Bay watershed and includes wetland areas that help sustain island ecosystems.

Among the conservation values of Natalie White’s land legacy is the simple fact that it is now permanently protected from the clearcutting and development that continue to eat away at the irreplaceably beautiful West Sound-to-Deer Harbor coastal corridor. We are proud we can offer peace of mind to conservation-minded landowners like Natalie White in knowing that their end-of-life wishes will be honored in perpetuity.

Kimball Preserve

• Decatur Island
• Years protected: 1985, 1989
• Land protected: 56.4 acres
• Public access: Yes
• Public benefits: Shoreline, scenic views, Garry oak habitat

In a series of transactions completed in the 1980s, Dr. Walter Kimball— outdoorsman, conservationist, and longtime supporter of the Preservation Trust—donated 64 acres of landon the southern tip of Decatur Island, which lies between Lopez Island and Anacortes.

This magnificent property includes wildlife habitat, shoreline, native
forest, grassy headlands, and a pristine tombolo—a sandbar and small off-lying island that is connected to Decatur proper. A half-mile trail connects a pocket beach west of the tombolo to a privately owned isthmus at the Preserve’s northeastern boundary.

The Kimball Preserve offers spectacular views of pristine terrain to boaters passing through Lopez Sound and Lopez Pass.

View access directions and a map of Kimball Preserve here.

Debra Taylor


These children (photo, left) are jumping for joy because they’ve just discovered an important connection. During a science field trip in April, these sixth-graders from Friday Harbor Elementary School started at Zylstra Lake to take water samples, which they tested for quality indicators. Then they followed False Bay Creek from Zylstra to its mouth on False Bay.

Tracing the connection prompted lots of “aha” moments. Here’s a sampling from essays the kids wrote:

“Our field trip to Lake Zylstra to study the watershed increased our knowledge. Now we know, now we care, now we will participate in the preservation of our beautiful island resources.” –Robin

“Lake Zylstra is a beautiful environment with a healthy lake running into False Bay. It’s our job to keep it that way.” –ElseDora

“We went to Lake Zylstra for a conservation field trip, and we got to see where a water flow started, and it flowed all the way down to False Bay. The water that we saw came out clear, we could see the rocks all the way to the bottom of the stream of cool, clear water. … My trip to Lake Zylstra [has] deepened my awareness of the importance of taking care of our island’s natural resources.” –Ramona

We jump for joy ourselves when we see our preserves used to educate future generations of conservationists!

Thanks to their teacher, Debra Taylor, and the San Juan Nature Institute for sharing with us.

Ferdi Businger


If, as G.K. Chesterton wrote, thanks are the highest form of thought, then we can express no higher thoughts than those of gratitude to our supporters.

One vital measure of that support is dollars. Another measure encompasses the hours, skill, sweat, and persistent effort contributed by our volunteers. At each annual meeting, we honor this second category of supporters with our Volunteer of the Year award.

This year’s award went not to a single individual, but to the entire Campaign for Mount Grant Preserve Steering Committee. This group has worked with extraordinary diligence to write articles, organize and participate in many events, serve as docents on Mount Grant’s Sundays at the Summit, and help raise almost $2 million (so far) from more than 700 families. The committee includes:

Keith Wentworth and Thor Hanson (co-chairs), Andrea Anderson, Michael Dean, Eileen Drath, Geoff Dunbar, Carolyn Haugen, Alice Hurd, Lisa Lawrence, Barbara Marrett, Liza Michaelson, Tom Nolan, Fiona Norris, Laura Norris, Marilyn O’Connor, Theresa Simendinger, Steve Simpson, Jim Skoog, Bob Stavers, Billie Swalla, Joe Todd, Leslie Veirs, and Carla Wright.

We convey our highest thoughts—and deepest thanks—to our 2016 Volunteers of the Year!

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