Island Community Keeps Watmough Wild
Watmough Bight Protected
Once again, San Juan Preservation Trust members and the island community came together to protect a dramatically beautiful, ecologically sensitive and much loved property. This time it was Watmough Bight on Lopez Island in Washington state.
People from throughout San Juan County and beyond contributed to this project, but it was the Lopez Island community that mobilized all of its resources to conserve an area of tremendous importance to Lopezians. Local fundraising efforts included lemonade stands, young ladies selling friendship bracelets, restaurant tip jars, proceeds from sales at the Lopez farmers market, benefit performances by local artists, and a teen “Fight for the Bight” concert. These efforts, when combined with generous matching gifts from island families and the ongoing support of San Juan Preservation Trust members, allowed for the purchase and subsequent protection of the 7-acre property that was destined for development.
The Preservation Trust contributed $150,000 from its reserves (funds previously donated by members) and raised an additional $500,000 from the community. The San Juan County Land Bank, a public agency, contributed $575,000 to the $1.225 million project. The Land Bank will own and manage the Watmough Bight conservation area. The Preservation Trust will hold a conservation easement to ensure it remains in its natural state and publicly accessible in perpetuity.
Much of the success of this project is due to the generosity of Tex Gieling, a neighbor who owns the remaining private property inside the bight. Tex made this an attractive two-for-one deal by donating her land adjacent to the 7-acre property, giving the public even more land to enjoy. Her gift will be appreciated by the community for generations to come.
Article reprinted with permission from San Juan Preservation Trust from their Fall 2007 Newsletter.
Photo by Steve Horn, courtesy San Juan Preservation Trust