Dedication ceremony coming for renamed Putney Woods

Walt Werner and Jerry Lloyd hold the plasma-cut sign that will be mounted in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s Goss Lake Woods renaming ceremony. - Photo courtesy of Jerry Lloyd
Walt Werner and Jerry Lloyd hold the plasma-cut sign that will be mounted in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s Goss Lake Woods renaming ceremony.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Jerry Lloyd

BAYVIEW — There are 63 intersections in the nearly 15 miles worth of trails within 800 acres at Putney Woods.

That means there are 63 different ways to get lost within the forested land previously known as Goss Lake Woods, an area that has been treasured by a multitude of users since 1980.

A ceremony marking the renaming of the woods after a Gary Putney, a longtime steward of the trails there, will be held Saturday afternoon.

When Putney died in November 2006, he asked that the $2,000 worth of donations be made to the Backcountry Horsemen so trails could be maintained, said Sharon Vanderslice, director of the Island County Chapter Backcountry Horsemen.

Because Putney is credited with so much work on the land, a tree will be planted for him during the ceremony.

“The South Whidbey Lions Club is coming to this ceremony and going to be planting a tree — a white pine — which was one of his favorite trees,” she said.

The crowning achievement of the club’s work toward honoring Putney was to commission a plasma-cut sign that identifies the public property as the Putney Woods. It will be mounted on a wooden structure at the main entrance to the trails.

The wooden structure to hold the sign — 11 feet wide by 12 feet high — was put up last Saturday, Vanderslice said.

“We will be hanging this sign and it is just absolutely beautiful,” she added.

The sign shows the name Putney Woods with a hiker and dog companion, a biker and an equestrian all sharing the trails, which typifies the use of the trails, said Vanderslice.

“These are non-motorized trails and they are open to everybody,” she said. “They are used primarily by equestrians, bike riders, dog walkers and bird watchers. The high school cross country team also practices on them.”

In the past, people have gotten lost in the myriad of trails that Putney created since 1980, and so, a map was created and wooden posts will be installed at each of the intersections.

Directional and informational signs are available for donation, Vanderslice said, as well as having the donor’s name burned onto the posts.

Putney Woods is a real legacy to the people of Whidbey Island, she said.

“We would like more people to be aware of this treasure and that the woods are there for people’s use,” she said. “Gary labored single-handedly most of the time between 1980 and his death a year ago. This was his vision that it would be a recreational trail area for everybody on the island.”

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or

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