Island Dispatch | Summer 2020


Reflections on the San Juan County Land Bank at 30

Watmough Bay as seen from Chadwick Hill | Staff Archive

The San Juan County Land Bank turns 30 this year. To help celebrate three decades of remarkable conservation accomplishments—many of them completed in close partnership with the San Juan Preservation Trust, pooling the complementary strengths and resources of a public agency (the Land Bank) and a private, nonprofit land trust (SJPT)—we asked for reflections from four current SJPT board members who have various perspectives on the Land Bank.

A forested mountain in the background with a bay of water in front of it.
Turtleback Mountain Preserve | Staff Archive
A lake with wildflowers and trees on the shore behind it
Zylstra Lake Preserve | Staff Archive
A grassy field with a pond in the middle and trees around it.
Beaverton Marsh Preserve | Joe Belcovson
A girl in a light brown sweater.
A girl in a dark red dress.


Recognizing that climate change is already altering the lands and waters that the Preservation Trust protects, our board of trustees decided this year to establish a Climate Leadership Scholarship program for seniors graduating from island high schools. The scholarships are intended to recognize and encourage young members of our island communities who are leading the way toward a more hopeful climate future. Individual board members funded two $2,000 college scholarships.
Out of an impressive field of applicants, the board’s scholarship committee chose two winners: Rachel Snow and Arla Sutton. Here’s where they are headed next, in their own words:
RACHEL SNOW, Friday Harbor High School
“I think the future of fighting climate change is through green engineering and innovation in the technology field. I have been accepted to the University of Washington’s college of engineering, where I get to be a part of that next step—developing a practical solution to greenhouse-gas emissions by finding new materials and methods and creating something new to help solve the climate crisis and transform today’s society into a healthier one.”
ARLA SUTTON, Orcas Island High School
“The climate crisis is here and now and it requires action. My college years will be spent performing cutting-edge research and solving our world’s biggest problems. I am excited to be attending Olin College of Engineering, which takes a new approach to engineering education by training students to address real-world problems. I will study engineering through an environmental lens while, at the same time, making progress towards a new future.”


Each year, the Preservation Trust’s staff selects a volunteer whose efforts exemplify the best qualities of all our valued volunteers—cheerful dedication and diligence in advancing SJPT’s mission. We added a youth category this year, so congratulations to both of our 2019-20 Volunteers of the Year!


A 2020 graduate of Orcas Island High School, Maya served as our Preserve Steward during this past school year at two small Preservation Trust properties, the Reddick and Martin Preserves on Orcas Island. In all kinds of weather, Maya walked or biked to both preserves, helping us care for them and expanding our knowledge of the resident plants and animals. She based her OIHS Senior Project on what she learned as a Preserve Steward. We wish Maya all the best as she heads to Middlebury College this fall.


Catherine journeys each month from her home in Anacortes to Graham Preserve on Shaw Island, where she has served as volunteer Preserve Steward for three years. She’s grown accustomed to the curious glances and comments she receives on the ferry when people notice a weed whacker strapped to her bicycle. Her diligent efforts have made visible differences—for example, transforming a large patch of bull thistles into a lush bed of native gourds. “It’s so great, especially right now,” Catherine says, “to see and feel hope in nature—and to get some fresh air and exercise!”

A girl in jeans sitting in the forest.
A woman with a blue backpack on in the forest.