A two-year effort to acquire the largest remaining undeveloped waterfront parcel on Fidalgo Island and fold it into an adjacent county park ended in success in May of 2003. Originally called “Sares Bluff,” a name created by the Preservation Trust staff for the fundraising effort, this 37-acre property with 1,350 of rugged shoreline was purchased by leveraging public and private funds, then integrated into Skagit County’s adjacent Sharpe Park, creating a 112-acre natural area and walking trail system. The property has since been re-named “Montgomery-Duban Headlands Park” in honor of a Fidalgo Island family that breathed new life into a challenged fundraising effort.
The Preservation Trust had long recognized the importance of protecting this vital link between the shoreline and inland parcels of Sharpe County Park. With spectaculars view that encompass the Olympic range, the straits, and Lopez, Allan, Burrows and other islands, along with the tremendous human pressures being placed upon Fidalgo Island’s forest systems, landscapes, and shoreline, Sares Bluff emerged as the most important conservation need and opportunity on the island.
The fundraising effort was a testament to the power of persistence. Despite a very challenging economy, the Preservation Trust raised $493,000 from private sources and $50,000 from a federal wetlands conservation grant. These funds were then added to a $500,000 matching grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and a $57,000 contribution from Skagit County. By leveraging the Preservation Trust’s private fundraising with the federal and state grants, this project was truly a cooperative public-private effort on a grand scale.
Bob Vaux, the Director of Skagit County Parks & Recreation at the time of the acquisition, was thrilled with this new addition to the county’s network of accessible open space. “We have protected one of the jewels of Fidalgo,” he said. “By leveraging our government grants with The Preservation Trust’s fundraising efforts, this project has been a model for effective public-private cooperation.”
Montgomery Duban Headlands Park is open to the public. Click here for visitor information.