The San Juan Preservation Trust received a gift of shoreline and forestland in the Point Lawrence neighborhood on Orcas Island in 2013. The Culvers, donors of the property, trace their family’s lineage back to the land’s original settlers. The preserve is part of larger tract of land owned by the family which also contained the Culver family farmhouse, now a historic site. When the Culver family settled in the area, shoreline was of little value to settlers and remained largely undeveloped, while the uplands were put into agricultural production.
Ken Culver, who initiated the donation, has recent memories of helping his dad put up hay on a part of the preserve that’s now covered by a mature alder forest. Along the northern boundary of the property runs Alderbrook creek, which flows out of what is now Eagle Lake. Ken recalls that a dam had been placed across the creek to provide a year-round water supply for the fishing resort his family operated on an adjacent shoreline parcel. The dam washed out decades ago and the resort ended operations in the 1950s when, in Kens’ words, people started to “see the USA in their Chevrolet,” causing the decline of small, family-owned resorts across the country. The family held on to the property, though, most recently managing it as working forest. Ultimately, Ken’s family decided they would rather donate it to the Preservation Trust than see it being logged. Under SJPT management, the forests will continue to mature and decline as nature sees fit.
The Culver Preserve is just shy of 24 acres and has nearly 800 feet of rugged high-bank shoreline facing southeast toward Rosario Strait and beyond. Undeveloped shoreline preserves like this are not only crucial to the health of terrestrial species like Douglas squirrels and Sitka spruce that call it home, but they also provide valuable inputs to the marine environment that ultimately feed the fishes and other critters of the Salish Sea. The Preservation Trust is excited to add this parcel to our network of nature preserves and are grateful to Ken Culver and his family for this donation of land.