Vendovi Island North Cove in the “Before Times”

As San Juan County begins Phase 2 of our state’s re-opening process, I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Excitement because it’s now possible to gather with a handful of Preservation Trust supporters, staff, and partners (albeit with many limitations). The novelty of virtual meetings wore off long ago, so even this small foretaste of seeing members and friends of the SJPT family in person is a joyful prospect.

Angela Anderson, SJPT Executive Director

In the midst of this fragile budding of joy, however, I’m apprehensive about the potential effects of overcrowding in our public parks and nature preserves. There is such a palpable, pent-up need for outdoor places where people can find recreation and renewal.

We witnessed this first-hand when we re-opened Vendovi Island Preserve earlier this month. Recreational boaters flocked to the island, as places that were open where they could go to tie up, get off the boat, and walk around were limited. The 40-foot dock at Vendovi can only accommodate so many boats at a time. Several would-be visitors, finding the dock full, either turned around and left or waited outside the breakwater for space to open up. The record number of visitors who did land, says Vendovi caretaker Thyatira Thompson, were “just appreciative to have an outdoor space to visit.”

Now more than ever, it’s clear how vitally important publicly accessible parks and preserves are for our collective health and well-being. Land is the heart of our island communities, the ballast that helps us stay stable, grounded, and sane. Parks, trails, and nature preserves provide places of refuge and renewal—places where we can all connect with nature’s magnificent web of life.

One of the Preservation Trust’s most important tasks over the coming year will be to develop a new strategic conservation plan. In keeping with the vision, mission, and values that we adopted in 2019, that plan will place a high priority on protecting additional lands that benefit our local communities by providing vital places of renewal, refuge, and recreation that are open for all to enjoy.

These times will eventually pass, but we will always need nature and land for all. Your continued support for conserving land in the San Juan Islands—for people and nature—has never been more important or appreciated. Thank you!