Project Description

Ihiya Biological Preserve

San Juan Island

Year Protected: 2021

Land Protected: 33 acres

Public Benefits: Mixed forest, wetlands, diverse wildlife, perennial stream (False Bay Creek), rocky balds

This lovely pocket of natural habitat for diverse native plant and animal species is located directly adjacent to the Town of Friday Harbor’s protected Trout Lake watershed (the source of the town’s drinking water). A year-round branch of False Bay Creek drains from Trout Lake, meanders through the Ihiya Preserve, then crosses the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank’s nearby King Sisters Preserve, flows into Zylstra Lake, and eventually enters the Salish Sea at the University of Washington’s False Bay Marine Preserve. Permanent conservation of this strategically located 33-acre property thus adds a crucial link in protecting the purity of surface water that flows into False Bay.

The land was originally protected when a neighborhood nonprofit organization purchased it as two adjoining undeveloped parcels in 2018, eventually naming it the “Ihiya Biological Reserve.” The nonprofit group sold a conservation easement on the property to the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank, ensuring the land’s long-term protection and allowing the neighbors to recoup some of the costs of the original transaction. The neighborhood group approached the Preservation Trust about purchasing title to the property at below-market price, and the Preservation Trust’s board approved the bargain-sale acquisition, which closed in December 2021.

We are grateful to the original Ihiya Biological Reserve group, led by Rose Blair, whose foresight, passion, and investment of time and treasure have resulted in such a positive conservation outcome for this property.

Thanks to that outcome, we are delighted to be partnering with the Land Bank in carrying out the neighborhood group’s intention that this special place would “serve as a catalyst for positive change—a place to connect, contemplate, breathe, meditate, and heal,” and also provide a permanent sanctuary for the diverse plant and wildlife communities that thrive there.

Our general management goals for this property include:

  1. Maintaining a trail system for neighborhood and public enjoyment of the preserve;
  2. Promoting healthy and diverse wildlife habitat and protection of freshwater resources;
  3. Promoting and encouraging use of the preserve for nature-based learning by local school groups and indigenous groups;
  4. Use of the preserve as a location for community science projects and other place-based learning.

Ihiya Biological Preserve is open to the public for daytime use. Click here for visitor maps and guidelines.