JB Farm Conservation Easement

Orcas Island

Year Protected: 2005

Land Protected: 322 acres

Public Benefits: Agricultural lands, forest, wetlands

Located at the heart of pastoral Crow Valley on Orcas Island, 322-acre JB Farm is the largest working farm on the island. The farm’s beautiful mosaic of wildlife habitat, working farmland, fresh-water wetlands and streams, and mixed-age forest containing many old-growth trees has provided expansive pastoral views for generations of islanders. As would be expected, JB Farm had always attracted land speculators interested in subdividing and developing the expansive property into smaller home sites. Carol Clark and her family, who have lived on the land for more than 60 years, had resisted the lure of this potential windfall for many years until the time came for them to consider placing lasting protections on the property.

The Clark family approached the San Juan Preservation Trust with an offer: for $865,000, a price significantly below its appraised value, the family would place a permanent legal restriction on the use of this property (in the form of a conservation easement) that would forever protect the farm from its otherwise inevitable subdivision and development.

Rather than acquiring the land outright—an expensive proposition—the Preservation Trust embarked on a large capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase the conservation easement from the Clark family. Placing a conservation easement on the property allows the owners to continue to farm it as they always had, while at the same time restricting future development and protecting important conservation values on the property. Thanks to the generosity of more than 400 conservation-minded donors as well as the tireless efforts of the San Juan Preservation Trust’s Crow Valley Campaign steering committee and volunteers, the San Juan Preservation Trust raised the money needed to make the deal come to fruition and to prevent the land from being carved up into a minimum of 16 “ranchettes.”

“We have succeeded in preserving 322 magnificent acres of forest, wetland, and farmland in Crow Valley for generations to come,” said Tim Seifert, the Preservation Trust’s Executive Director at the time. “We are happy to inform our membership that we have saved a significant portion of Crow Valley, which is one of the top three open space areas in all of San Juan County.”