There’s a beautiful mix of forest and meadow in a small, hidden valley north of the Orcas ferry landing. In one corner, the land rises in a series of rocky outcrops to a plateau where madrone are scattered through a mossy open area. Kingfishers frequent the pond, raptors hunt in the meadow, and native wildflowers, including star-flowered Solomon’s seal and ladies’ tresses, reside at the edge of the woods.
When John and Annette Mazzarella were offered the opportunity to purchase the property adjacent to land they already owned, they decided to act. Their home and the parcel offered for sale were located inside Orcas Village boundaries, which meant ½-acre residential zoning.
“We wanted to see this beautiful land preserved ‘as is’ rather than developed into lots for twenty houses,” explained Annette Mazzarella, “so we bought ten acres of the piece and then donated a conservation easement on it to the Preservation Trust.”
The protected property is near Warm Valley Farm, which has an easement held by the San Juan County Land Bank, and the 26-acre Krieger easement previously donated to the Preservation Trust. The Mazzarella easement allows two homes, and sets aside eight acres as totally natural.
“There are all sorts of groups speaking for people’s interests but not many advocates for wildlife or just preserving beautiful areas that people don’t use,” says Annette. “This is a place of quiet beauty,” she adds. “It’s wild and wonderful and we plan to leave it just as it is.”