Project Description

Conservation Easement

Orcas Island

Year Protected: 2014

Land Protected: 59 acres

Public Benefits: Wetlands, mixed conifer forest, permanent stream

It’s the late 1960s and a group of college friends from the UW are enjoying a summer evening around a beach fire on the shoreline near Point Lawrence on Orcas Island. The land, a former fishing resort, belonged to the dad of one of the friends and had been for sale for some time.
That night, one of the friends had an idea: “This place is too beautiful to let slip away, why don’t we get together and try and buy it?” This was a bold move, considering that they were all still in college and none of them had jobs. The initial answer from the dad was “No way”—he wasn’t willing to carry a note from them.

But with no other buyers on the horizon he eventually came around, and four of the friends—Ken Culver (whose dad owned the property), Stu Stephens, Gary Ostle, and Pete Stiles became the owners of nearly 100 acres of rugged forest and shoreline.

Years later the friends, still acting together, decided to place a conservation easement on 59 acres of the remaining forestland. Those 59 acres of mixed conifers with wetlands and a permanent stream running along the border will now be forever wild. Not bad for a bunch of idealistic college students.