2015 Top Ten Land Bank Moments

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2015 was a busy and exciting year for your Land Bank! Here’s a look back at some of the highlights:

Reiss Donation
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The Land Bank received the ultimate anniversary gift from Paul and Beatrice Reiss in August 2015 – a donation of 30 acres on San Juan Island’s Westside! While the property is not yet open to the public, the Land Bank hopes to establish trails and allow access sometime late next year.

March Turtleback March
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It was sunshine and smiles during the Land Bank’s inaugural “March Turtleback March” over Turtleback Mountain Preserve. Over 90 people, from ages five to sixty five, met at the park’s south trailhead and climbed aboard the Camp Orkila bus for a ride to the north trailhead, to take part in the five mile trek over the preserve.

Peak to Peek Hike
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Lopez celebrated National Trails Day in June with a sporting hike. Co-hosted by the Lopez Community Trails Network and the Land Bank, 24 hearty souls traversed a hilly four miles from the peak of Chadwick Hill, through Watmough Bight, and over to Point Colville, to be rewarded with a peek at Mt. Rainier!

False Bay Creek Preserve Fencing Project
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The San Juan Islands Conservation District awarded $50,000 to the Land Bank to implement Agricultural Best Management Practices on San Juan Island’s False Bay Creek Preserve. This included fencing livestock out of a tributary to False Bay Creek, planting trees and shrubs along the creek, and improving the water system and creek crossings for livestock. A huge first step towards the bigger picture: improving water quality and fish habitat in the False Bay watershed.

Salmon Recovery Project Along Cascade Creek
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The Land Bank successfully obtained a grant for nearly $500k from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to purchase property along Orcas Island’s Cascade Creek. The lower reaches of Cascade Creek is one of the few salmon spawning sites in the entire County and procurement of the Dickinson property protects this part of the creek. The property also features a dramatic natural canyon unique to the Islands as a whole. The acquisition will conclude during 2016.

Poetry Trails
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Photo credit: Matt Pranger

In celebration of its 25th Anniversary, as well as National Poetry Month, The Land Bank, with help from its partners, SJI Library, SJI National Historical Park, SJI Trails Committee, Lime Kiln Point State Park, and Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS), hosted 27 nature poems throughout the month of April, submitted and selected by Islanders, along trails winding through some of San Juan Island’s most inspiring natural settings – Limekiln and Deadman Bay Preserves, Lime Kiln Point State Park, and American Camp.
Photo credit: Matt Pranger

Diamond Hill Preserve Plant Ramble
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Another first for Orcas – seventeen wandering enthusiasts were treated to a guided walk through mature forest, open grassland, and the secluded wetland communities of Diamond Hill Preserve, which rises to over 600 feet above the waters of Eastsound and Harney Channel. Since the preserve is not open to the public, this guided walk provided a rare and special opportunity to view the variety of flora and fauna thriving within the undisturbed acreage.

Lopez Great Islands Clean-Up
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An annual Earth Day event, this year’s enterprise left Lopez Island squeaky clean! Thanks to the combined efforts of Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District, San Juan Islands National Monument Odlin Park, San Juan Preservation Trust, the Land Bank, Spencer Spit State Park, Lopez Community Land Trust, and Islands Energy Coalition, 110 volunteers gave the friendly isle a spring cleaning, including Weeks Wetland, one of the Fisherman Bay Preserves!

Mount Grant Preserve Acquisition
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A partnership between the Land Bank and the San Juan Preservation Trust, the ridgeline and surrounding hillsides of Mount Grant Preserve on San Juan Island cover 141 acres, with diverse forest, and a road to the stunning 360-degree views at the summit. Although the property is not paid for, and the Campaign to Save Mount Grant is still underway, the Land Bank has been lucky enough to host multiple events at the preserve, from a Bat Talk to a Lunar Eclipse Viewing.

Zylstra Lake Acquisition
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Just shy of ringing in the New Year, The San Juan Preservation Trust and the Land Bank reached an agreement to purchase the 313-acre Zylstra Lake property in San Juan Valley on San Juan Island.Located just three miles west of the Town of Friday Harbor, this property includes the 52-acre Zylstra Lake, a second 9-acre lake, and more than 200 acres of open pastures and productive farmland with sweeping views over San Juan Valley. While there is much potential for recreation and public access, the property will not be open to the public until additional funding is secured and a management plan is approved.