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Parks district names newly acquired trail property

Welcome to Trustland Trails, South Whidbey’s latest outdoor venue.

Never heard of it? That’s the new name for more than 200 acres of prime land in the Maxwelton Valley acquired earlier this year by the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District.

Commissioners voted 3-1 at their last meeting on the new moniker, ending a year-long search for just the right designation.

It hasn’t been easy, however.

More than a year ago, commissioners asked a volunteer group to come up with suggestions.

Some favored using the word “Craw” because the land borders that road. Others hated the name, preferring Salish Trails, Whispering Pines or Big Cedars.

Some felt those were too cute or didn’t identify the trails as uniquely Whidbey.

Last month, the committee submitted Trustland Trails as a suggestion, but commissioners couldn’t reach a decision.

Wednesday, committee members Sharon Vanderslice and Ron Martell told the district that enough was enough.

“We’ve been given no guidance and it rubs the committee the wrong way,” Vanderslice told commissioners.

Naming the park has been difficult, they responded.

“It’s like naming a child and trying to get aunts, uncles and grandparents to all agree,” Parks Commissioner Allison Tapert said. “We’ve come up with a name that fits. Not everyone will love it at first but we’ll all end up using it.”

Vanderslice said the name was chosen to evoke where the land came from.

First, the property comes from school trust lands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources and was transferred to the district earlier this year by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

As the property is earmarked for hiking and equestrian uses and trails already exist on the land, committee members didn’t want the word “park” associated with it.

“We wanted the land to remain in a stage of minimal development with trails for people to walk through but not encroach upon,” Vanderslice said. “But it has been a park with no name for too long.”

The committee worked to help the district define how the land would be used.

They visited parks and trail systems off island, considered surfacing requirements for handicap accessibility and examined ways of serving horseback riders, joggers, bicyclists and dog lovers.

Parks district ownership also means the protection of the mature forested parts of the property. The land has a high-quality habitat status so that it cannot be harvested.

“The committee researched the site’s soils, plants and animals and collected historical records and information about the site and its surrounding area,” Tapert noted.

“They also worked with the transportation department to use part of the old highway as the parks primary access point, saving taxpayers the cost of a new park entrance road.”

Parks director Terri Arnold said natural areas of 40 to 200 acres was the number one response to what type of land the district should acquire based on a survey from island residents. She hopes people will enjoy the trails and the upper watershed of the Maxwelton Creek, instead of seeing it potentially built on.

“This is exactly the kind of property identified in the survey,” she said.

Paul Arand, noting fellow commissioner Matt Simms’ absence, wanted to wait because Simms had strong feelings about the word Craw.

But Parks Commissioner Jim Porter said the volunteers had done their due diligence and arrived at a satisfactory solution.

With Arand voting nay, the name Trustland Trails was approved.

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