The historic Pile Point reference mark stands as a lichen-encrusted concrete obelisk overlooking Haro Strait from the rocky coast of west San Juan Island. The monument serves two important functions: one as the official reference for Turning Point 6 of the U.S. and Canadian boundary; and the other as a meaningful touchstone for Brooks and Susie Ragen and their family which now includes eight grandchildren.
For over 30 years the Ragens have enjoyed the many pleasures of their 191-acre Pile Point property, and in December 2002 codified their stewardship vision by donating a conservation easement to the Preservation Trust. “Our desire has always been to have this place stay in our family,” Brooks explains, “but forever is a long time, so we have ensured that there are restrictions in place that will protect the land in perpetuity.”
Characterized by Susie and Brooks as “a gift to the flora and fauna of Pile Point,” the conservation easement encompasses an area of arresting beauty, varied terrain, and diverse habitats. Open fields, ponds and woodlands give way to terraces of rocky headland with pocket beaches set like jewels along the extensive shoreline. That the family takes pleasure – and pride – in caring for the land is obvious at every turn. “Each year in August we go out as a family to collect refuse from the beach,” Susie shares. “All of the grandchildren help and wouldn’t miss it… it’s something they really look forward to.”
Looking forward is ultimately what protecting land is all about. By donating this conservation easement to the Preservation Trust (along with an easement placed on their Point Hammond property on Waldron Island), the Ragen family has demonstrated a respect for the past, an understanding of the present, and a responsibility to the future, and they will always be a part of the places that they have loved.