Conservation Buyer Saves a Whidbey Forest
Pat Powell has worked with conservation buyers before, but the call she received last spring was still a wonderful surprise. The caller was looking for help finding a noteworthy forest property on South Whidbey to purchase for preservation.
Powell, executive director of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, met with the caller. The more the two talked, the more Powell’s heart warmed as she realized the impact such a purchase could make toward local conservation.
The discussion led to the protection of a 140-acre forest northwest of Langley that ties together three other protected forestlands. It is an amazing forest full of wetlands, a lush understory, and mature trees. It is also a haven for native wildlife, including reptiles and amphibians and an exciting variety of birds.
The conservation buyer, who we’ll call “C.B.,” wishes to remain anonymous. C.B. purchased the land from Waterman Enterprises, then donated a conservation easement to us that removed all development and commercial forestry rights. The property is now protected in perpetuity as a wildlife refuge and has been named Raven’s Forest Forever.
“I wanted to conserve a forest because this is a critical time for this jewel of a planet,” C.B. said. “It’s incumbent on people to do what they can.”
Raven’s Forest Forever is located in one of 27 areas in Island County identified as high conservation priorities by the Land Trust. This particular priority area on South Whidbey consists of large blocks of forest held in private and public ownership. With Raven’s Forest Forever, the Land Trust has protected more than 1,100 acres in this priority area.
“These large acreages are really important to maintain the incredible quality of life we enjoy on our islands,” Powell said. “Conserved lands keep our water and air clean and control and filter surface water. Contiguous forestland is critical to provide habitat for a variety of our native bird species and other wildlife.”
C.B.’s desire was to find a mature forest where trees would have a chance to live out their lives naturally without the threat of being cut down, and to save wildlife from the upheaval. She also wanted the opportunity for her and others to experience the benefits of nature. She was happy to learn that a trail already existed on the property. The trail will be opened for walkers after it is improved. Pets and other domestic animals will need to remain at home to keep the forest as a refuge for wildlife.
“When people walk into a natural area, they’re getting health as well as emotional benefits,” C.B. said. “We know people are more peaceful when they’re spending time in nature. We know that when we enter a natural space, the grip of the world’s chaos and darkness is loosened, and we gather our own energies back, reconnecting.”
She calls Raven’s Forest Forever a “healthy and beautiful” forest that was managed intelligently. “I like to visualize what it might look like 100 or more years from now,” C.B. said. “We may go through very different climate changes and I want to set this forest up for successful longevity.”
Debra Waterman of Waterman Enterprises called the purchase an “optimal situation” for her family. The Watermans selectively logged the property in the past instead of clear-cutting it, a major reason it was so appealing for conservation purposes.
The forest also connects with three other protected forest properties, including Harry Case’s Forest Forever. Case, another incredibly generous donor, gifted all of the development rights on his adjacent 168-acre forest to the Land Trust in 2009. Case’s forest is full of towering giants. Such trees fascinate C.B., who moved to Whidbey Island five years ago.
“Since I was a little child, I’ve always loved nature,” she said. “I’ve always been comfortable and happy in nature. I respect trees and love the idea of allowing them to grow into old age.”
We are incredibly grateful to C.B. for her vision and generosity. Raven’s Forest Forever will benefit our naturally beautiful islands for generations to come.