One of the playgrounds of Whidbey Island’s lone resident elk is permanently protected thanks to a lifelong islander’s love for his idyllic property.

Donald Borgman, third-generation owner of a 127-acre farm near Strawberry Point on North Whidbey, donated 88 acres to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust in 2018 for a wildlife preserve. He also donated an agricultural conservation easement on the remaining 39 acres, so the main farmstead continues to support agriculture.

The generosity of Borgman permanently protects a peaceful property that appears frozen in time from the days when Oak Harbor was largely a farming community. Aside from the beautiful pastoral and mountain views, the preserve also features a mosaic of wildlife habitats, including freshwater wetlands, coniferous and deciduous forest, and open fields.

The wildlife on the property is amazingly diverse. A year-long survey conducted by Whidbey Audubon Society revealed 62 species of birds, including five different types of raptors and four kinds of woodpeckers, including the Pileated Woodpecker, a state at-risk species. The survey didn’t include the forested part of the property, which means a lot more species that depend on the wildlife preserve will be added to the list. Deer, coyote, and Bruiser the elk also spend ample time on the property.

The property was dear to Donald Borgman, who passed away in 2020. His great grandparents moved to the Strawberry Point area in the late 1800s. His grandfather emigrated from the Netherlands and started the Borgman farm. Donald, an only child, followed in his father’s footsteps, raising hay and beef cattle. He lived on the farm for nearly his entire life.

The Donald Borgman Nature Preserve is expected to be publicly accessible by the spring of 2022 and possibly sooner. Funding for a parking area was secured with Island County Future Funds. Construction is planned for 2021.