Protecting Richardson Marsh has “been a lot of years in coming, but it’s exciting.” –Linda Hoedemaker

Richardson Marsh spans some 80 acres—an area the size of 60 football fields—near the coast of southwestern Lopez Island, immediately inland from Davis Bay. This expansive wetland is one of only two in San Juan County (along with Beaverton Marsh) to merit a Category I rating, due in part to the large, intact habitat it provides for trumpeter swans and many other species of migratory waterfowl.

The marsh also plays an integral role in collecting and filtering fresh water from the Davis Bay watershed (the largest drainage on Lopez Island) before it enters the bay, where eelgrass beds provide spawning and feeding habitat for forage fish and juvenile salmon.

Protecting Richardson Marsh has long been a high priority for the Preservation Trust and our frequent conservation partner, the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank. Working together with the Hoedemaker family, the two organizations made a big step toward achieving this goal earlier this year with the completion of a pair of land transactions.

Wetland areas are outlined in blue.

Summer view over Richardson Marsh toward Richardson Bay. (Richardson Road is visible at left.)

Both transactions involve portions of Davis Bay Farm, which Linda and her brothers, John and Steve Hoedemaker, inherited after their mother, Ivaly, passed away in 2005. Before her passing, Ivaly donated a 47-acre easement on another portion of Davis Bay farm: an open field that borders the marsh and extends to Davis Bay, protecting 750 feet of shoreline.

One of the Hoedemakers’ neighbors followed Ivaly’s example in 2008, granting an easement to SJPT that protects 52 acres, about half of which lie in the wetland basin.

Conversations about protecting the remainder of the marsh occurred, off and on, among the Hoedemakers, other neighboring landowners, and Preservation Trust staff members for more than a decade. Ideas for a grand plan slowly took shape.

The Hoedemakers have put that plan in motion with their generous donation of a conservation easement on their “Davis Bay Farm West” parcel, and with their sale of the “Davis Bay Farm East” property to the Preservation Trust and the Conservation Land Bank. The Land Bank, which holds title to the parcel, plans eventually to create a bicycle pullout and pedestrian trail to a wildlife-viewing area.

The Hoedemakers have blazed a trail that we hope will lead to further protective action. “The neighborhood effort to conserve the marsh is coming together now,” Linda says. “It’s been a lot of years in coming, but it’s exciting.”