Buck Bay Preserve

Orcas Island

Year Protected: 2003

Land Protected: 2 acres

Shoreline Protected: 549 feet

Public Benefits: Shoreline; estuary buffer

As the heart of the Olga community on Orcas Island, Buck Bay pulses with wildlife and beauty. This small but significant estuary—a rich, shallow mixing area of fresh and salt water—is a treasured feature teaming with activity, from diving osprey to spawning salmon.

In 2003, the Preservation Trust completed a project that protects more than 450 feet of shoreline and forested upland buffer on the west side of the bay.

The Buck Bay Preserve was created using a variety of land-protection tools and enlisting the support of neighbors, the broader “Orcas East End” community, and the San Juan County Land Bank. Conservation-minded landowners were willing to work with the Preservation Trust on bargain sale terms, and one family donated a parcel outright. The Land Bank purchased conservation easements, and 46 donors contributed over $20,000 to help complete the acquisition.

“The results at Buck Bay show how effective cooperation and creativity can be in achieving community based conservation success,” said Mike Cooper, the Preservation Trust’s Outreach Director at the time. “In this case the connections between the ecological values of the bay, the vision of the neighboring community, and the role the Preservation Trust and Land Bank could play were strongly aligned,” he explains, “It’s something we can all feel proud to be a part of.”

The San Juan County Land Bank’s Coho Preserve encompasses 24 adjacent acres along lower Cascade Creek, which drains into Buck Bay. Together, the Coho Preserve and the Preservation Trust’s Buck Bay Preserve protect essential habitat for coho and chum salmon, as well as sea run coastal cutthroat trout. Juvenile chinook salmon also forage in the estuary.