Thom Pence

Red Mill Farm Caretaker

Thom Pence is a Midwest (Ohio) transplant who fled to the forests of the Pacific Northwest after graduating from Michigan State University in forestry. He spent a 30-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, doing stints on public lands from the hollows of Kentucky to the high desert of Oregon, ending with 18 years in the wilds of southeast Alaska.

After retiring from the Forest Service Thom moved to the San Juan Islands. He continued his conservation interest here by helping to restore Garry oak habitat on his personal property, which led to acquiring a federal grant to expand this work to adjacent private properties.

This, in turn, led to a long history of helping the San Juan County Land Bank with their own Garry oak restoration program. In 2015, Thom helped construct the joint Land Bank/Preservation Trust Salish Seeds native-plant nursery at Red Mill Farm.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of Red Mill Farm and its environs, Thom offered, “If you ever want a caretaker out here I would take it in a second!” Three months later his wish came true.

You can find Thom at Red Mill Farm, out walking roads and trails or pedaling his bike.