Land Bank History Highlights

November 6, 1990 
San Juan County voters approve creation of the Land Bank with 60% approval.

First agricultural conservation easement: Warm Valley Farm, Orcas Island, 78 acres of farmland in agricultural use since the 1800s.

Prompted by citizen interest, Deadman Bay on San Juan Island is purchased with assistance from the Washington State Interagency Committee; visitors may walk along the gravel beach and watch for whales and other marine life from the shore overlooking Haro Strait.

Land Bank opens the Weeks Wetland Trail on Lopez Island, celebrating the preservation of scenic views, the restoration of salt marsh wetlands, and documenting the history of farming by the Weeks family. This is the first of three properties to form the Fisherman Bay Preserves.

First joint project with the San Juan Preservation Trust – Hogback Mountain is purchased with the added protection of a conservation easement. With the help of two neighboring property owners, the Preservation Trust and the Land Bank protected nearly 50 acres of open woodlands contiguous to Moran State Park, preserving its scenic, natural, recreation, and open space values.

Fee simple acquisitions reach 545.5 acres of property preserved county-wide.

San Juan County voters re-authorize Land Bank funding to 2014 with 73% approval.

First acquisition at Judd Cove Preserve: three acres and over 500 feet of shoreline. Opened for public access in 2009 with over 700 feet of shoreline and 10 acres of woodland, beach, and wetland.

First historic preservation easement, Tharald Homestead, donated by Fred Ellis.

18,418 feet of saltwater shoreline preserved by fee simple acquisition.

Land Bank partnership with the San Juan Preservation Trust, the Trust for Public Land, and donations from hundreds of islanders saves 1,600-acre Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island.

Public access on all Land Bank Preserves reaches 71% of total acreage.

First documented sighting of the elusive Sharp-tail snake in the San Juan Islands on Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife staff member, Lori Salzar, said “This is a very exciting find! We have long wondered if they might occur in the San Juan Islands.” That it happened on conservation land is all the more exciting!

Spurred on by Tex Gieling’s donation, and with incredible, broad-ranging community effort to raise funds as part of partnership with San Juan Preservation Trust, Watmough Preserve on Lopez Island is increased by twelve acres and over 100 feet of shoreline, fourteen years after the first donation by the Oles family.

Fee simple acquisitions reach 3,531 acres of property and 26,282 feet of saltwater shoreline preserving special places as outlined in the San Juan County Land Bank mandate.

Volunteers donate 2,100 hours of time to build trails, monitor preserves, assist visitors on Land Bank Preserves, remove invasive weeds, plant native species, and clean up shorelines.

For a more information regarding the Land Bank’s history, please click here to read Elizabeth Anderson’s article published on