Jerry Starr and his wife Norma fell in love with the San Juan Islands from the seat of their motorcycle many years ago. Soon after their initial visit, they purchased 20 acres on the west side of San Juan Island with sweeping views from Kanaka Bay to Victoria. “It was mostly just a huge rabbit warren back then,” Jerry recalls laughingly, “not many trees, but you could sure see everywhere . . . it felt just right.” Over the years they spent weekends tent camping on the property, and in 1990 realized their dream of building a home and becoming full-time islanders.
The Starr property – a mosaic of forest, fields, and rocky outcrops – is bordered on the west and south by a neighbor’s conservation easement-protected land. Since Jerry had no intention of developing any more of his property, adding to the conserved land in the neighborhood by donating a conservation easement to the Preservation Trust “seemed like the logical thing to do.”
Under the terms of the Starr easement, a 5-acre “residential area” is designated, and the other 15 acres will remain undeveloped, natural open space with no structures. The forest, meadow and pond provide habitat for a variety of wildlife including deer, ducks, fox and owls and the view – now with more trees and fewer rabbits – remain dramatic.
The seasons bring wildflowers, storms, nesting birds, family and friends to the Starr property – all pleasures in their own way, yet for Jerry it is the solitude and quiet of the place that is most remarkable. “Sometimes I step outdoors late at night with my dog, Sara,” he explains, “and there’s not a sound . . . the land is still and peaceful in the darkness, and that is very special to me.”