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Island County says it will accept title for Trillium land

Island County will accept the title to the 664-acre Trillium Woods property if the Whidbey Camano Land Trust is successful in its efforts to purchase it.

County Commissioners Helen Price Johnson, John Dean and Angie Homola signed a letter to that effect during a public meeting April 12.

The land trust would hold a conservation easement (a legally binding permanent agreement) to preserve the property for wildlife habitat and public use.

The trust has until June 10 to raise $4.2 million to acquire the property, between Greenbank and Freeland. The property, the largest single-owner private parcel remaining on Whidbey Island, fell into foreclosure this past year and is now owned by three Snohomish County banks.

The land trust has an option until June 10 to purchase the property, and is ramping up its fundraising. If the effort fails, the property likely will be sold off in pieces, trust officials say.

In its agreement with the county, the land trust also would raise $50,000 to establish a stewardship fund to pay for maintenance and operation for the first five to seven years.

The land trust also would help organize volunteers to maintain, protect and oversee use of the property, similar to the volunteer mechanism in place at the Putney Woods county land near Langley.

The commissioners’ endorsement noted that the Trillium property is an “important protection project with many economic, environmental and community benefits.”

It also said that a “healthy, sustainable forest will provide wildlife habitat, public recreational opportunities, and a place where future generations can experience the wonders of the natural world.”

Meanwhile, the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors has endorsed the land trust’s effort to acquire the property.

“This is a natural fit with the Realtors’ quality-of-life pledge, and we’re pleased to give our support,” association president Christina Parker said. She said her organization will help to raise money for the purchase, and encourage others to participate.

The group includes 121 Realtors and 20 affiliate members from Oak Harbor to Clinton.

To contribute, or to get involved with the land-trust effort, call 222-3310 or visit www.savetheforestnow.org. Donations also may be sent to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Attention: Save the Forest Now, 765 Wonn Road, Barn C-201, Greenbank, WA 98253.

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