Guardian Angel Helps Island Wildlife

Author: Whidbey Camano Land Trust | 06/20/16
       

Historic barn

A historic barn rests in a field protected by a donated conservation easement.

Greenbank Resident Donates Conservation Easement

Wanting to leave the world and Whidbey Island a better place, a lifelong resident of Greenbank recently donated a conservation easement to protect wildlife on the 54-acre property where he was born and still resides. The donated easement will ensure that this lovely wildlife refuge will remain, much as it is today, forever.

Nearing 90, this generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has witnessed a great deal of change in his life and expressed concerns about what he sees happening to our planet. “I don’t understand it,” he said. “It’s like wrecking your own home. I used to get out on the Peninsula and fish in the streams and, when I returned to the same place years later, it looked like they’d fought World War I there.”

He’s also witnessed and appreciated some outstanding examples of land protection, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s actions on the Olympic Peninsula. “I remember President Roosevelt was staying at Lake Crescent and they were starting to cut down trees and he stopped it. He did a lot of good.”

Development on the Island worries him because of its adverse effect on wildlife. “Talk about urban sprawl,” he said. “Oak Harbor goes almost to Coupeville now.”

Black bears have disappeared from Whidbey Island during his lifetime, but he can still recall when bear tracks and fresh bear sign were common in the forest and the area around Lake Hancock. One night he exited his kitchen door and almost collided with a very surprised black bear in a cherry tree.

Peaceful and serene, his property remains an oasis for wildlife. He has to be extra careful mowing because fawns are often hidden in the tall grass while their mothers graze.

His appreciation for nature is evident. Birdhouses surround his home, a birdbath sits prominently in the yard, and a hummingbird feeder hangs just outside the kitchen window. “You have to keep your hope up,” he says. “That’s why I was interested in putting a conservation easement on the property. I’m fortunate that everyone in my family — my five nieces and nephews — thought it was a good idea. It made it very easy to do. I don’t feel I did anything special. To me, it’s something natural to do. A lot of people, if they knew about it and had the chance, would do it.”

His main motivation for the donation? “I think the world would be a pretty dull place without all of the wild things.” We totally agree and so appreciate this permanent gift of habitat to wildlife from such a gentle, thoughtful, and generous man.

The mostly wooded property, located in the Land Trust’s Greenbank Protection Priority Area, is near other protected properties and part of a large swath of contiguous forest that provides habitat and a travel corridor important for birds, mammals, and amphibians. Its proximity to Lake Hancock, an intact estuary, makes this conservation easement especially important.

The forest has a relatively diverse mix of Douglas fir, alder, grand fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar, with a healthy understory of native plants. An open, grassy field is bordered by the forest, adding to the property’s habitat complexity by creating an “edge effect” and providing a feeding site for raptor species that perch in trees and hunt prey in the fields.

Our ability to make this wonderful landowner’s wish come true is possible only because of your financial support. Thank you! Working with this donor, and others like him, is a special privilege and inspires us, the staff and volunteer board, to work even harder to keep the Islands’ treasured places for all forms of life.

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