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SJ Preservation Trust inherits pair of Waldron Island preserves
— Below is a press release submitted by the San Juan Preservation Trust
The Nature Conservancy and the San Juan Preservation Trust have announced the change in ownership of two iconic nature preserves on Waldron Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
The Nature Conservancy has transferred title and stewardship responsibilities for both the 269-acre Cowlitz Bay Preserve and 208-acre Bitte Baer Preserve to the San Juan Preservation Trust, a 33-year-old non-profit land trust that serves the San Juan Islands.
Purchased separately in the early 1970s with the support of donations from the Waldron Island community, these two properties were among the very first private lands to be permanently conserved in San Juan County.
The Bitte Baer Preserve, which is adjacent to another 216-acre preserve previously purchased by the San Juan Preservation Trust, includes the sandstone face of Mount Disney and hosts one of the largest intact Garry oak ecosystems in the San Juan archipelago. The Cowlitz Bay Preserve, which was acquired in 1971 to thwart a proposed subdivision, hosts extensive high-quality wetlands and almost 4,000 feet of beachfront, including tidelands with forage fish spawning habitat and eelgrass beds.
"The San Juan Preservation Trust and the people of Waldron Island are the ideal partners to care for these iconic lands," said Karen Anderson, the Conservancy's Washington director. "We know that these preserves will be well-stewarded into the future."
In addition to transferring the two preserves, The Nature Conservancy has also conveyed a stewardship endowment to the San Juan Preservation Trust that was created by donors at the time these properties were originally acquired. A resident caretaker will also be retained by the San Juan Preservation Trust.
“Ownership may have changed hands, but The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to preserve and care for these inspiring preserves will continue in perpetuity under our watch,” said Tim Seifert, executive director of the San Juan Preservation Trust. “We’ve had a successful history of land conservation on Waldron, and we look forward to working with the island community to ensure that these places will remain in their healthy and natural state. Forever.”