Conservation couple honored with park plaque

A bench and plaque will be installed at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, at South Whidbey State Park in memory of Allen and Maurine Ryan.

They were very active in SWIFT (South Whidbey Island for Tomorrow) and instrumental in saving and preserving Keystone Spit, The Classic U Forest and Ebey’s Landing.

Maurine was at the dedication ceremony of the proposed Ryan Trail at South Whidbey State Park before she passed away October 2011 at the age of 105.

What extra money was raised from the bench and plaque was donated toward that trail.

The bench and plaque are being donated by a group of people, The Audubon Student Naturalist Association, that Al and Maurine started and ran in the San Fernando Valley of California from 1965 to 1970. They stopped leading the group so they could move to their property in Coupeville, which they did in August 1971.

Almost all of the students and advisors, approximately 170 of them, kept in touch with the Ryans and held many reunions at their house and a few in California.

“They made a tremendous impact in all of our lives and I’m sure that we did in theirs,” said Anna Marie Holland, one of their students.

Acting on a request by the South Whidbey group Save The Trees, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission named 7.4 acres of South Whidbey State Park the Ryan Addition.

The honor included naming of a future trail in that section of the park the Ryan Trail.

The Ryans helped found the island’s first Audubon Society chapter. They became members of Friends of Ebey’s, which helped move public policy to support the establishment of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The Ryans’ conservation efforts included founding SWIFT, which was instrumental in saving Keystone Spit, which is now part of Fort Casey State Park. SWIFT v. Dillingham, which went to the Washington Supreme Court, succeeded in halting development and set the stage for conservation of the spit in 1987, two years after Al’s death.


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