Keystone Preserve Paid Off

Author: Land Trust Team | 01/25/24

A Huge Milestone

Keystone Farm and Forest Preserve. Photo by Jann Ledbetter.

We have some really great news to share with you! In less than two years, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust has fully paid off the beautiful Keystone Preserve property in Central Whidbey. The preserve, which we purchased for $9.1 million in April 2022, is one of the largest acquisitions in the Land Trust’s 40-year history. Paying off the property enables the Land Trust to move forward with ambitious plans for this very special 216-acre forest and farm preserve with two-thirds of a mile of precious shoreline along Admiralty Inlet.

“No matter how you look at it, buying Keystone Preserve was a huge leap of faith for the Land Trust. It is one of the biggest and most important projects we have ever undertaken. Now that it’s fully paid off, we can put all our efforts into getting this spectacular place open to the public,” said Ryan Elting, executive director.

When the Land Trust learned that the preserve had gone up for sale, it worked quickly to secure bridge loans from a nonprofit lending organization as well as a local resident and preservation hero. The organization also added most of its own reserves to pay the purchase price. Originally, it was thought that paying off the loans and replenishing the reserves would take several years.

But, working quickly and diligently, the Land Trust team secured enough grant funding to pay off the loans and replenish its reserves by the end of 2023. The generous funding came from the U.S. Navy, the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Commerce and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In addition to paying off the purchase price, the Land Trust also secured grant funds to restore a swath of bluff top to native vegetation and a ditched stream to its natural grade with a buffer of native riparian plants.

“We are so grateful to all who originally funded the purchase and then helped pay it off so quickly and for recognizing the importance of Keystone Preserve and protecting it as a public resource,” Elting added.

The Land Trust is now ramping up its plans to restore forested areas, create trails and public access points, and working closely with the Organic Farm School who will sustainably manage the preserve’s farmland. Initial public access is expected sometime in 2025.


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