Preserving a Forest Full of Nature and Memories

Author: Jessica | 09/28/19


Marilyn Vogel stands in front of forestland she owns next to Fort Ebey State Park. She is working with the Land Trust and State Parks to protect the land and expand the state park.

Park expansion would’ve thrilled Art Vogel, daughter says 

The sun is particularly bright on a late July morning. Marilyn Vogel arrives at the forestland she owns near Fort Ebey State Park and is greeted by bird songs, the chatter of squirrels, and an unusual treat — the buzz of cicadas from somewhere high in the trees.

Art Vogel

Second Lieutenant Art Vogel in a photo taken in 1943. Vogel was stationed at Fort Ebey on Whidbey Island. Photo courtesy Marilyn Vogel.

Vogel is always delighted to take in the sights and sounds of nature when she visits this place. When she was a child, her dad, Art Vogel, would take her on walks through these woods and teach her about wildlife and plants. These fond memories are part of the reason she stops here every month or so and wanders through the forest. 

“It was an ideal place to be a child,” she said. “It was just like living in a Disney movie. In the summers, we would walk down to Kennedy’s Lagoon and go swimming with our friends.” 

Vogel’s love for her land, its history, and how much it meant to her father is why she’s working with the Land Trust and Washington State Parks to protect it permanently as a home for wildlife. Vogel is selling a conservation easement and then donating the property to  the state, which will use it to expand Fort Ebey State Park by 67 acres.

Art Vogel was a second lieutenant stationed at Fort Ebey when it was an Army post during World War II. In 1945, he bought 40 acres of forest adjacent to the fort. He would later acquire more land, build a house with timber he selectively harvested, and raise a family with his wife, Mary.

Marilyn inherited the forestland after her father died in 2002. The parcel that held the family home was sold. 

“With Dad’s ties to Fort Ebey, I knew he would be thrilled if the land became part of the state park,” Marilyn said. “It gave him a lot of joy to see Fort Ebey preserved that way (as a state park) and for history to be remembered.”

“It was just like living in a Disney movie.” — Marilyn Vogel

Marilyn points to a trail that once led to the swimming hole at Kennedy’s Lagoon near Penn Cove. It was much wider when she was a child. She was told it was an old wagon trail and can still remember the wheel ruts on the path. There was no highway through the center of the island in those days. 

“Back then the world was smaller and less developed and there wasn’t traffic,” Marilyn said. “Parents just let their kids out in the morning and we’d take bicycles and roam all over the place.”

These memories always come flooding back during her visits. She remembers rabbits and deer all over. Newts and frogs. Even red foxes. 

“You can’t help but think about your childhood,” Vogel said. “I also think about the history of the island. I try to imagine what it was like in the 1800s, how it’s changed and what remnants of history are still here.”

Now, with her land donation to State Parks, Marilyn Vogel is doing her part to preserve these 67 acres for future generations.

“It makes me glad to know it can continue to be a forest and be part of the greenbelt up and down the island,” she said. “Having it all connect really helps wildlife habitat.” 




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