Turtleback Mountain Preserve

Orcas Island

Year Protected: 2006

Land Protected: 1,578 acres

Shoreline Protected: 956 feet

Conserved jointly by the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank (owner/manager) and the San Juan Preservation Trust (easement holder)

Turtleback’s story began in the 1950s, when former chairman of Weyerhaueser Norton Clapp began assembling the property on the mountain. On his death, the 1,578-acre parcel was granted to the Medina Foundation, which put the property up for sale in August 2005 to support its philanthropic work.

Although residential and resort developers wanted to buy the land, the foundation ultimately negotiated a purchase with local conservation organizations instead. The San Juan County Land Bank, a public agency funded by a citizen-approved real estate excise tax, contributed $10 million to the project. The San Juan Preservation Trust contributed $1 million, and, with assistance from The Trust for Public Land, led a community effort to raise the remaining $7.5 million from private sources. More than 2,000 individuals and families from throughout the Puget Sound region and beyond responded to the appeal. The purchase was completed on November 16, 2006.

While both organizations are actively involved in its care, Turtleback Mountain Preserve is now owned by the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank, while the San Juan Preservation Trust holds a conservation easement and stewardship funds to ensure it remains in its natural state and publicly accessible in perpetuity.

Turtleback Mountain Preserve is open to the public. Click here for visitor information and trail map.