San Juan Preservation Trust

Island Dispatch | October 2017

Annual Campaign Preview

Sowing Seeds for SJPT'S Future

San Juan County Land Bank

Here in the islands, the snowberries have turned creamy white, the rosehips and madrone berries are tiny beacons of red, and the trails are carpeted with tawny fir needles. Another sure sign of the season: We are about to kick off the San Juan Preservation Trust’s 2018 annual membership campaign. By mid-November, you’ll receive a letter from us asking for your renewed support for our conservation work in the San Juan Islands.

The theme of this year’s appeal letter, written by esteemed author and SJPT board president Thor Hanson, is seeds …

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A brief preview from this year’s letter: “In autumn,” Thor writes, “it’s easy to be distracted by colorful foliage and forget another story playing out below, where a whole new generation of seeds is settling into the seed bank on every patch of open ground … adding to a store that will ultimately replenish the fields and forests of all our cherished island landscapes.”

Seeds are fundamental to the habitat restoration work that we do, often in partnership with the San Juan County Land Bank. One outgrowth (pun intended) of this partnership is the Salish Seeds Project—a nursery that produces native seeds and plant stock at SJPT’s Red Mill Farm Preserve. We met with the nursery manager, Land Bank Land Steward Eliza Habegger, to ask her about the project.

SJPT: How did the Salish Seeds Project come about?

Eliza Habegger: This project started about four years ago, when the Land Bank began doing native-plant propagation on a very small scale at our office in Friday Harbor, primarily to supply our own habitat restoration projects. We had found that there was no source for native wildflowers and grasses that were local to this region—the San Juan Islands and elsewhere in this rain-shadow climate.

Pretty soon, we were looking to expand to a bigger site. Tim Seifert [SJPT’s executive director] invited us to create a nursery Red Mill Farm. That’s when it became the Salish Seeds Project, a partnership that could benefit both organizations.

SJPT: Where have the seeds and nursery plants that the project has produced been used?

EH: The majority of the seeds and plant plugs we’ve grown have been used to restore Garry oak habitat on Turtleback Mountain Preserve on Orcas Island and on Cady Mountain Preserve on San Juan Island—and also for restoration and expansion of island marble butterfly habitat by the Preservation Trust and other organizations.

SJPT: Can anyone else benefit?

EH: The main goal of this project has been to provide plants and seeds for large-scale restoration projects. But a secondary goal has always been to make native seeds and plants available to anyone who has an interest in bringing them back to the landscape, even in small patches. So we’ve started creating packets of blended seeds for people to sow in their own backyards.

All SJPT members and friends who respond to our Annual Campaign appeal with a gift of $150 or more will receive a special packet of native wildflower seeds from the Salish Seeds Project as an expression of our gratitude. (Supplies are limited, so you might want to act quickly!)

Click here to see a short video about the Salish Seeds Project.

A hard-won mark of distinction

Accreditation Renewed

At this time of political turmoil, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1979, the San Juan Preservation Trust has been doing just that for people who love the San Juan Islands of Washington State. And, since 2012, it has been doing so as an accredited land trust.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission recently announced that the Preservation Trust has been awarded a renewal of its accreditation for a second five-year period.

The San Juan Preservation Trust is proud to be part of a growing network of 389 accredited land trusts, out of a total of 1,363 land trusts nationwide (according to the most recent National Land Trust Census).

“We are pleased that the Accreditation Commission has re-affirmed our status as one of the nation’s most distinguished land trusts,” said Tim Seifert, executive director of the San Juan Preservation Trust. “With more than 300 properties under our protection, we continue to be among the most prolific land trusts in the country. It hasn’t been easy to adhere to the Accreditation Commission’s meticulous standards amidst this rapid growth, but we are gratified by their vote of confidence in our work.”

“Applying for initial accreditation back in 2012 was an important milestone for the San Juan Preservation Trust,” said Thor Hanson, president of the Preservation Trust’s board of trustees. “Re-accreditation will further strengthen the organization as we hone our goals and priorities for the next five years and beyond.”

Janice Sears and Tom Brown

Profile: At Home on the Road

Janice Sears and Tom Brown don’t let any grass grow under their feet. Well, technically Tom does: He lovingly tends to a picture-perfect urban garden around their Seattle home. Just as often, though, their home is the open road. As active travelers, they are currently on a quest to visit every one of America’s 59 National Parks. They recently bagged their 42nd —Cuyahoga Valley National Park, between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Janice keeps a running travelogue, including many gorgeous photos, on her blog,

The Seattle couple (he is retired and she is a merchandising and business strategist) are avid hikers, skiers, kayakers, and cyclists. While they own no property in the San Juan Islands, they are frequent visitors here. Janice is an enthusiastic volunteer land steward, currently responsible for making regular visits to two SJPT preserves on Orcas, Hogback Preserve and Richardson Wildfowl Preserve. After each visit, she reports back to our stewardship staff on the preserves’ condition. Janice and Tom are inaugural members of the Tiptop League, a program launched in 2016 to recognize Preservation Trust members who make an annual, unrestricted gift $1,000 or more.

Janice’s enthusiasm is palpable: “Every time I ride the ferry on my way to Orcas, I still get excited,” she says. “I am passionate about the preservation of the islands and the Salish Sea!”

Janice and Tom remind us that a dedication to our islands—and our work—reaches beyond those who live or own land up here. Generous, conservation-minded people like Janice and Tom are the fuel behind the Preservation Trust’s work. Thank you!

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 in perpetuity.
Won’t you consider joining them?