Adams Conservation Easement

Orcas Island

Year Protected: 1997

Land Protected: 5 acres

Public Benefits: Forest, seasonal stream, wetland

Rachel Adams loved trees, islands and the rich diversity of life that describes and defines the San Juans. Like many others who have placed conservation easements on their property, she was motivated by the strong connection she felt to the natural landscape.

The conservation easement Adams donated to the San Juan Preservation Trust protects five acres above the Olga Valley on Orcas Island. Under the provisions of the agreement, the land will remain much as it is today—a forested hillside and ridge that drops steeply into a ravine with a seasonal stream flowing into Buck Bay. Pileated woodpeckers, saw-whet owls, great blue herons, and nesting Bewick’s wrens have been observed on this small yet diverse property, along with a variety of wetland and lowland forest plant species.

The easement allows for a one-acre meadow area to be fenced and used as pasture in the future. Except for a small animal shelter, however, the property will have no structures and will remain in perpetuity as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain,” as stated in the easement language.

“My mother loved nature, and preserving this land has been a way of honoring her and the sensibilities she passed on to me during my childhood in New England,” Adams reflected. “I enjoy working with the Preservation Trust in their efforts to retain the natural, rural quality valued by so many people who love the islands.”

Viewed from both the Olga-Doe Bay and Obstruction Pass roads, this land conserves not only habitat and watershed, but scenic and open space values as well. Rachel’s actions inspired others in the Olga community to follow her example.

Although Rachel Adams passed away in June 2012, her legacy lives on. See her story and those of other Gann Society members on our Virtual Memorial page.