The diverse natural features of the Donn Charnley’s property near Watmough Head include forest, shoreline, rock outcroppings and open meadows. Journals of early explorers Valdez and Vancouver highlight the distinctive geology and rock striations along this shore, an aspect of the place that holds special appeal for Charnley who, after teaching geology for 32 years, still calls it his “love”. Known locally as “Otter Cove” and “Sedum House,” the property includes 12 acres and 864 feet of shoreline along the prominent point where Rosario Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca meet off the south end of Lopez. The beauty and diversity inspired the Charnley family to place a conservation easement on the property in 2001.
“I attended (what is now) Camp Nor’wester, in 1936 and have considered myself an islander ever since. When the camp moved fromWestcottBayonSan Juanto theSperryPeninsulain 1946, I helped. I’ve stayed involved ever since, through the attendance of my six children and now as a board member,” he explains. “Our family bought the property at Otter Cove in the early 1960’s from descendents of the original land owners. It was always in my mind that we would place it in conservation status. Donating an easement to the Preservation Trust was a decision consistent with what my children and I value, and it gives us the assurance the land will remain as protected open space.”
The Charnley easement limits the number, placement and size of structures that may be built, and defines an extensive “no-structures” zone with generous shoreline setbacks. It also adjoins land protected by a conservation easement donated to the Trust in 1999 by Bill and Martha Holm. These two families – long time friends and neighbors – share not only the imprints of glaciers, footprints of otter, and blossom of sedum, but a devotion to preservation of the San Juans. We are all beneficiaries of their foresight and generosity.