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San Juan Preservation Trust, Skagit Land Trust working to purchase mountain on Guemes Island
A new contract gives the San Juan Preservation Trust and Skagit Land Trust an extended opportunity to buy Guemes Mountain.
A new contract lowers the price by $600,000, from $2.8 million to $2.2 million.
Over the past year, the two land trusts and a group of Guemes Island residents have been engaged in a feasibility campaign seeking to raise private pledges equal to 80 percent of the previous fund-raising goal of $2.8 million before the first contract expired in January.
When the agreement expired in January, this fund-raising goal had not been reached. The conservation partners faced the difficult decision of how to move forward in a deteriorating economy and without the confidence of having reached this 80 percent threshold. The trusts approached the owners of the property and reached the new agreement.
To date, the partners have raised $1.58 million in confirmed pledges toward the new goal, leaving a new fund-raising goal of $620,000 that must be reached by Oct. 1.
“Both organizations were anxious about the risks to this important conservation project and had to really dig deep to find the strength to move ahead," Skagit Land Trust president Patsy Martin said in a press release. "In the end, the generosity and passion of the pledges we have already received and our belief in the importance of this project made the difference. We now need all the help we can get to raise the remaining $620,000 and hope the community sees the long term value of forever preserving this icon of Guemes Island."
Guemes Mountain rises up from Square Harbor on the east side of Guemes. It is known for its wildflowers and unobstructed panoramic views of Mount Baker, the ports of Anacortes and Bellingham, the Cascade and Olympic mountains, and the layered vistas of the surrounding San Juan Islands. The property lies at the very center of what will be 580 acres of contiguous private and public protected land.
“Despite current economic conditions, special island properties such as this remain under serious threat of development,” San Juan Preservation Trust Executive Director Tim Seifert said in the press release.
Current zoning (R-10) on the property could allow as many as seven 10-acre home sites on the hilltop, and the expansive views from the property’s numerous open grasslands and ridges make this a desirable location for a premium residential development.
The acquisition of this 70-acre parcel by the conservation partnership would ensure that the entire property remains forever undeveloped and accessible to the public. If the campaign is successful, the Skagit Land Trust will own and manage the property as a publicly accessible nature preserve, while the San Juan Preservation Trust will hold a conservation easement that assures the land can never be developed.
Founded in 1979, the San Juan Preservation Trust (www.sjpt.org) is a private, non-profit 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, the organization has permanently protected more than 240 properties, 30 miles of shoreline, and 13,000 acres on 18 islands, including land now managed as public parks, private nature preserves, and working farms and forests.
For information about giving to the campaign to buy Guemes Mountain, call Brian Windrope, director of philanthropy at the San Juan Preservation Trust, 378-2461; or Renata Hoyle Maybruck, development director at the Skagit Land Trust, (360) 428-7878.