Submitted by the San Juan County Land Bank
This year looks like another busy and exciting year for the San Juan County Land Bank. Almost two years to the day, and a full year before the loan was due, the highly anticipated acquisition of the Zylstra Lake property on San Juan Island came to a fruitful end. The public-private partnership of the San Juan County Land Bank and the San Juan Preservation Trust once again successfully pooled their creative and financial resources to conserve more than 280 acres of San Juan Valley open space, including the 60 acre Zylstra lake complex.
“This is one of the most exciting projects that we’ve ever undertaken with our partners at the Land Bank,” said Tim Seifert, executive director of the preservation trust. “There are few places left on San Juan Island that can provide so many benefits for so many people, so Zylstra Lake has always ranked among our highest priorities for protection.”
Funding for the project was provided via a $1 million federal Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant; a pending state grant; the sale of the adjacent “October Farm” property; and San Juan County Land Bank and Preservation Trust funds. As with Mount Grant Preserve on San Juan Island and Turtleback Mountain Preserve on Orcas Island, Zylstra will be owned and managed by the Land Bank, and the Preservation Trust will hold a conservation easement on it.
“Making the final payment to the seller is the first step in creating a permanent management plan for Zylstra,” said San Juan County Land Bank Director Lincoln Bormann. “Right now though, we are extremely grateful for our partners who helped to conserve the property. It will be an amazing addition to the community.”
With ownership of the Zylstra Lake Preserve now secure, the Land Bank can begin planning for its long-term stewardship, including public access to the lake and surrounding fields. In order to keep the process moving forward, an outside consultant will be hired to lead the complex project as Land Bank staff are committed to planning and site enhancement projects at Mount Grant and other preserves in the county.
“This is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of San Juan County. Public input will be critical to helping shape the vision for Zylstra Lake. We will listen carefully and work hard to accommodate as many ideas and requests as possible for this unique property,” said Doug McCutchen, preserve steward for the land bank. “Please stay tuned for opportunities to participate in our first public scoping meeting later this spring.”