Mission & History
The mission of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust is to actively involve the community in protecting, restoring, and appreciating the important natural habitats and resource lands that support the diversity of life on our islands and in the waters of Puget Sound.
We hold a vision where protected lands and waters are universally treasured assets on our thriving islands.
From the Beginning
It all started in the early 1980s when Albert Heath wanted to permanently preserve and allow public access to the Ebey’s Bluff trail along his land. If you’ve ever hiked the bluff trail at Ebey’s Landing, you know this trail. It has spectacular views and is one of the most popular hiking trails on Whidbey Island.
“We wanted to save our land forever … and we needed a Land Trust to do that,” explained Albert Heath, founding Land Trust member.
To ensure the permanent protection of his land, Albert needed a land trust to partner with and hold the conservation easement that he donated. Thus began the Whidbey Camano Land Trust in 1984. Almost immediately, the Hayes Family partnered with the Land Trust to protect their north Whidbey Island agricultural land … and the current land conservation movement in Island County was well underway.
Starting Out Small
For its first 19 years, the Whidbey and Camano Land Trust was an all-volunteer organization. Our work was done out of board members’ homes. Learning by doing, these hard working visionary volunteers protected 438-acres on Whidbey Island. Their completed projects comprised seven conservation easements and one fee-owned property. These properties provided significant public benefits through their conservation of open space, wetlands, natural forests, hiking trails, and homes for wildlife.
Building the Team
In 2003, in recognition that there was more to do than volunteers alone could accomplish, we hired our first professional staff. Following a national search, the Board of Directors hired Pat Powell as the Executive Director. With expert staff now in place, we could initiate and complete multiple and complex land conservation projects. Ms. Powell was clearly the right choice, since she has led the expansion of the Land Trust’s growing efforts to protect our quality of life ever since.
Taking a Strategic Approach
In 2003 we also became a true county-wide organization when the Davis Slough Heronry was purchased and protected, our first conservation project on Camano Island. This effort expanded our base of support as more than 550 donors far and wide rallied to save one of the largest Great Blue Heron colonies remaining in the Puget Sound. Three other projects were completed that year – two on Whidbey and another on Camano. Together, those four projects permanently protected more than 1,000 acres and 1,200 feet of shoreline and tidelands. The Land Trust had begun to take a strategic approach to land protection.
Between 2004 and 2009, another 32 projects were completed on Whidbey and Camano Islands. As we celebrated our 25th anniversary of grass roots land conservation in 2009, we announced the significant accomplishment of more than 6,100-acres permanently protected — approximately 4% of Island County’s total area.
At the 30 Year Mark
As of today, we have permanently protected 76 properties, totaling more than 7,800 acres.
As pressures for development continue, permanent changes to these landscapes threaten the distinctive character of Whidbey and Camano Islands. We encourage you to learn more about the irreplaceable lands we’ve protected and join us as a member to help protect additional open spaces, farmlands, local forests, and wildlife habitats forever.