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San Juan Preservation Trust acquires 217-acre Vendovi Island

The San Juan Preservation Trust has purchased Vendovi Island, the third-largest island under single private ownership in the entire San Juan archipelago.     - Washington state Department of Ecology
The San Juan Preservation Trust has purchased Vendovi Island, the third-largest island under single private ownership in the entire San Juan archipelago.
— image credit: Washington state Department of Ecology

The San Juan Preservation Trust, a non-profit land trust based in the San Juan Islands, has purchased Vendovi Island, the third-largest island under single private ownership in the entire San Juan archipelago.

This acquisition ensures that this 217-acre island will remain permanently protected from development.

The $6.4 million purchase price was raised from anonymous private benefactors, including $3 million in donations and a $3.4 million bridge loan. The Preservation Trust is now actively fundraising to pay off this loan.

“We approached every potential conservation partner we could think of, but the price and terms were simply too much,” Executive Director Tim Seifert said in a press release. “We had essentially concluded that Vendovi was going to be out of our reach when these extraordinary new friends stepped in to offer their help.”

Vendovi Island, located in Skagit County, had been listed for sale at $14.5 million before the owners attempted to sell the property at a well-publicized auction held in September in Seattle. The San Juan Preservation Trust submitted the highest bid at that auction ($3.3 million), but the sellers exercised their right to refuse to sell the island at that price.

With 2.8 miles of pristine shoreline, Vendovi is situated between Guemes, Lummi and Samish Islands near the entrance to Bellingham Bay. Essentially undeveloped but for one small residence, the Preservation Trust had long considered Vendovi to be one of the most important unprotected properties in the San Juan Islands.

“This deal has come together quickly, and we haven’t had much time to explore,” Seifert said. “But at first glance, it appears to be among the least disturbed of all the private islands we’ve seen.”

The organization is working on a natural inventory and management plan for the island that will likely accommodate some public access. Until that plan has been completed, however, public access will not be permitted. A caretaker has been retained to live on the island.

For more information about the project, including funding needs and future plans for the island, visit www.sjpt.org

The San Juan Preservation Trust is a private, non-profit and membership-based land trust dedicated to helping people conserve land in the San Juan archipelago. Noted for its $18.5 million acquisition of Turtleback Mountain on Orcas Island in 2006, the organization has permanently protected more than 270 properties, 35 miles of shoreline, and 13,700 acres on 20 islands, including lands now managed as public parks, private nature preserves, and working farms and forests.

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