Land Bank is an asset to the community | Letter

Land Bank is an asset to the community | Letter

Over the past several months I have stood by and watched the unfortunate situation surrounding the Mt. Grant Preserve unfold. It just makes me sad.

It makes me sad that the Land Bank and Preservation Trust’s efforts to advance a common public good are on trial. Staff and commissioners are being demonized for doing their jobs and advocating for all of us. Public access on Land Bank Preserves has been consistent: low impact, “pack it in, pack it out” and minimal infrastructure. This strategy has a nearly three-decade-long record of success. It limits distractions from the natural environment while minimizing costs to the county. In fact, having a Land Bank Preserve next door is widely viewed as favorable. Their presence increases the value of adjacent properties and are highlighted in a realtor’s description of an adjoining parcel for sale.

It makes me sad that valuable county resources are being expended — both time and capital — to defend against litigation seeking special interest accommodation. This diversion distracts from the core focus of scenic preservation, connecting residents to the natural world and land stewardship.

It makes me sad that some in our local press are portraying a misleading narrative and have fallen well short of performing due diligence. We count on the media to shine a light on an issue. Critically evaluating evidence on both sides and exploring the nuances and motivations surrounding a complex issue is what we expect from a free and fair press.

Finally, as part of my son’s high school community project, he volunteered time with Land Bank stewards to bring the summit trail into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. His grandmother had MS and was in a wheelchair most of her adult life. His work helped to establish access to a unique, natural setting for individuals just like her. It makes me sad that residents and visitors, especially those with physical challenges, are in jeopardy of losing the opportunity to view the amazing vistas at the summit of Mt Grant. It all just makes me sad.

Jennifer Evans

San Juan Island