A Ray of Sunshine: A Camano Wildlife Haven Conserved
Protection a Tribute to Husband Who Tended to Forest
Jan Lamers’s eyes light up when she describes her Camano Island forest filled with towering, healthy trees, lots of birds, and countless warm and wonderful memories.
Jan and her daughters call this special place the “Sunshine Forest.” And for good reason. It’s brightened their lives for 30 years.
“It’s beautiful,” Jan said. “I just enjoy being out there looking at the trees and listening to the frogs and the birds.”
Jan’s late husband, Eric Lamers, spent more than two decades carefully tending to this forest making it healthier for plants and wildlife. As a tribute to her husband, and to preserve the property their family loves, Jan worked with the Land Trust to permanently protect it.
By selling a restrictive easement to the Navy and donating a conservation easement to the Land Trust, the Lamers’s wooded refuge will remain as undeveloped open space, except for one future homesite located in a far corner. It’s the way the family believes Eric, who passed away in 2017, would’ve wanted it.
“I think he’d be really pleased by what we’ve done,” said daughter Laurie Robertson.
The mature, diverse forest, which makes up most of the 30-acre property, reflects Eric’s dedication and loving care of the Sunshine Forest. After he and Jan retired in the early 1990s, they started making more trips from Seattle to their wooded escape on Camano, allowing Eric to devote more time to the trees. His management included occasional thinning to remove diseased, damaged, and densely spaced trees, which created a healthier forest and better habitat for wildlife. These practices earned the family a nomination as Forest Stewards of the Year in 2012 by one forestry association in Washington.
“Since we were kids, both of us had dreamed of having a forest,” Jan said. “When we found this one together, it fulfilled both of our dreams. Mine was just to have a forest. His was to have a forest and be a forester.”
The Lamers property is filled with mature Western red cedars, big leaf maples, Douglas firs, and a diverse and healthy understory. The property is adjacent to Island County’s Four Springs Lake Preserve, adding even more conservation value to this part of Camano Island.
“Since we were kids, both of us had dreamed of having a forest. When we found this one together, it fulfilled both of our dreams. Mine was just to have a forest. His was to have a forest and be a forester.” – Jan Lamers
Wildlife is abundant on the property and includes many different species of birds. A few small clearings bring in sunlight, including one area where the family planted fruit trees. A small seasonal stream feeds a pond and wetland system, providing much needed water for wildlife during the increasingly dry summer months.
The family has seen a porcupine in an apple tree, weasels, and even cougar prints about 10 years ago. But mostly what fill their senses are deer, frogs, owls, and a wide range of other delightful birds.
Being adjacent to Four Springs Lake Preserve, the Lamers conservation easement, held by the Land Trust, expands a corridor of protected wildlife habitat and opens the door for other exciting conservation possibilities.
“We used to call the property ‘Fun in the Forest,’” daughter Lisa Robertson remarked. “Our Dad called Mom ‘Sunshine.’ So now it’s “Sunshine Forest. Forever Fun in the Forest.’ The name is in honor of them both.”
Jan loves the endearing name and the fun saying. “We need the FFIF,” she said with a laugh. “The environment is important to us. I have three daughters who all agree.”
The property is indeed a little piece of paradise. And the family is relieved it will stay that way.