Lorax loses, forest named after Trillium

Sorry, Lorax.

Trillium Woods has a new name, chosen from 95 suggestions received by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, and it’s not yours.

It’s now the Trillium Community Forest.

“I think it’s a great name,” Elizabeth Guss, land trust director of outreach and development, said Tuesday.

“I think it’s reflective and a beautiful tribute to the scope of interest in the forest.”

For the past six weeks, the land trust has solicited names for the 654 acres on forest land acquired late last year with $4 million in donations and loans.

The new name was chosen by the land trust board as being representative of the essential elements of the property. The name was an amalgam of individual suggestions favored by the majority of submissions, Guss said.

The original 750-acre property is west of Highway 525 about a mile north of Mutiny Bay Road. The woodland, adjacent to South Whidbey State Park, is laced with more than 10 miles of trails and has been a popular hiking and horseback-riding area.

Known most recently as Estates at Whidbey, the property fell into foreclosure after its owner, who subdivided the property to contain more than 120 houses, ran into financial trouble with the project barely under way.

The Freeland Water and Sewer District recently bought 80 acres to use for its proposed sewer system.

The property has had a colorful 30-year history.

In 1988, it was the site of controversy when Trillium Corporation of Bellingham, owners at the time, clearcut the area.

Protesters gathered at the property and blocked an entrance in a failed attempt to stop the logging. The protests marked the beginning of the local watchdog group, the Whidbey Environmental Action Network.

Guss said some bitterness still remains, indicated by several name submissions that suggested “anything but Trillium.”

But others took the long view, she said.

“I think the community has transformed the name,” Guss said. “It’s a reminder of how close we came to losing the property.”

She said other names submitted included a number of Native American terms and a number of suggestions with the word “Whidbey.” Others suggested the property be named for people who had prominent roles in its acquisition.

Guss said several other suggestions included the word “Lorax,” from a Dr. Seuss environmental children’s book about efforts to save the “Truffula trees.”

Some suggestions were obviously playful.

“One was ‘Sassy Butt Forest,’” Guss said. “I guess that’s playful.”

The property, the largest remaining forest parcel on Whidbey, eventually will be turned over to the county for safekeeping in perpetuity, and is expected to be maintained by volunteers, Guss said.

The land trust, dating to 1984, is a local nonprofit organization working to protect natural habitats, scenic vistas and working farms and forests in partnership with landowners and the community.

It permanently protects land on the two islands from development by buying property and conservation easements, and has secured more than 6,100 acres to date.

Guss said the new name is a perfect tribute to the efforts of more than 1,500 people who donated to the property’s purchase.

“A lot of us said this is the right name,” she said. “The community that cares about protecting the land is much bigger than Whidbey.”

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