In 2001, Ann Skartvedt, Mark Burget, and their sons Jasper and Spencer protected their exceptionally beautiful property on Stuart Island with a voluntary conservation agreement donated to the Preservation Trust.
The family became owners of the property near Tiptop Hill in March of 2001. “We love the diversity of this land – deep, dark forest; dry rocky outcrops with views across Haro Strait to Vancouver Island; the peaceful waterfront on Reid Harbor; an old orchard, and extensive wetland,” Ann explained at the time of the donation. “The marsh is bordered by a stand of quaking aspen and harbors a multitude of wildlife including Pacific chorus frogs,” she adds. “When we first heard those frogs, we know this would always be a very special place for us.”
By donating a conservation easement on the land, Ann, Mark, and the boys have helped ensure its careful stewardship into the future. “We knew from the beginning that this land was worth saving,” Mark reflected. “When we first got to know the property, people suggested that a new home could be built here or there – especially on the higher ground overlooking the other islands – and that the land would be worth more if it had homes built on it. We immediately felt that the best thing we could do would be to buy the land and agree not to build more houses.”
Terms of the conservation easement on the 66-acre property describe a 5-acre “residential area” which allows for maintenance and replacement of the existing home, as well as farm and garden uses. The balance of the acreage is protected as productive forest, wetland, and wildlife habitat in perpetuity.
When asked their views on the value of land conservation in the islands, Mark and Ann shared the following thoughts:
“By the time most people, and most communities, realize that they need to preserve land, it is too late. There is still time to protect much of the greater San Juan Islands ecosystem, but it is going to take a lot of hard work and a good deal of voluntary conservation action. Our land on Stuart Island is just one small piece of a much larger conservation vision – a vision that we hope the San Juan Preservation Trust will help all of us realize in the coming years. The Trust’s work to preserve special places is so close to what matters to us as a family. We are honored to have been able to do something to help such a great and giving group of people with such an important purpose.”