Note From Angela

Angela Anderson at home with Leo

Dear Preservation Trust family and friends,

I write this on March 24, the day after Governor Jay Inslee ordered Washingtonians to stay at home unless engaged in activities deemed essential. To comply with the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, we at the San Juan Preservation Trust have made some changes in our operations that go beyond the initial COVID-19 Announcement that we made on March 13.

Effective Wednesday, March 25, and remaining in effect until Governor Inslee suspends the “Stay Home” mandate, we’ve put these rules in place:

  • All Preservation Trust staff members are performing their regular duties, insofar as possible, remotely from their respective island homes. Work activities that staff members cannot accomplish while staying at home are suspended. This includes monitoring visits by our Stewardship staff.
  • As a “non-essential workplace,” our office in Friday Harbor will remain closed and unstaffed for the duration.
  • Red Mill Farm is closed to the public. Partner programs and other gatherings are suspended.
  • All events and outings (except any that can take place virtually) are canceled or postponed until further notice. Check our Calendar of Events for the most up-to-date information.
  • Vendovi Island Preserve, which normally opens to the public on April 1 each year, will remain closed for as long as the “Stay at Home” order remains in effect.

Fortunately, “Stay Home” does not mean “stay inside.” As Governor Inslee said in his televised announcement, “If you feel like going for a walk, gardening or going for a bike ride, we consider that essential activity for everyone’s physical and mental health. We all just need to practice social distancing of six feet to protect ourselves and others—everywhere, all the time.”

This graphic from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control illustrates what distancing means when we’re outdoors:

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Where can we go when we get the urge to go outside and take a walk? Even these options are diminishing by the day. Overcrowding at popular parks and trailheads has prompted many closures, which now include all Washington State Parks and all lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Preservation Trust-owned preserves that are publicly accessible (see a map of them here) remain open, at least for now, but only for those who practice social distancing. The exception, as noted above, is Vendovi Island Preserve, which will remain closed until the order is lifted. Regarding preserves that we share responsibilities for with the San Juan County Land Bank, such as Turtleback Mountain and Mount Grant Preserve, please see this statement from the Land Bank. Our jointly protected preserves will remain open, although gate openings for driving access to the Mount Grant summit are suspended.

We believe that the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order means just that: enjoying nature and fresh air from home, or within walking distance of where you live.

The Washington Trails Association (WTA) has some great suggestions for getting a dose of nature and fresh air from home. A few of their tips:

  • Open a window and take a few deep breaths.
  • Hang out with your houseplants; they may help relieve stress.
  • If you hike to socialize, set up some time with a friend and have a phone call or digital catchup session. Share the view from your windows with each other, and maybe take a tour of your houseplants. Companionship is crucial at a time like this.

Here are a few things we’d like to add to WTA’s list:

As I write this, a robin perched on a branch outside my window holds a clump of moss in its beak, going about its business of building a nest. Amid the uncertainty and chaos gripping the human world right now, it’s comforting to know that spring is proceeding on schedule, and our favorite places in nature will be there for us when all this is over.

Until then, let’s all stay home and stay healthy, physically separated but united in our dedication to conservation and community in the San Juan Islands.

Be well!


Angela Anderson, Executive Director