Land trust creates new preserve on Central Whidbey Island

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust acquired 46 acres

Thanks to state dollars, federal dollars and resident donations, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust acquired acres of land on Central Whidbey Island that is home to an old-growth forest as well as a threatened plant.

The land trust completed a $3.3 million deal with Seattle Pacific University to purchase 46 acres located just north of the Fort Casey Inn.

A conservation easement that will be held by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources was placed on the property.

“It’s one of the best natural areas in the state. It’s a jewel to protect,” said Pat Powell, executive director of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

Golden Paintbrush, a rare plant that is on the state endangered and federal threatened lists, grows on part of the property the land trust acquired. The purchase means the Whidbey Camano Land Trust has stewardship of two of the 12 known populations of golden paintbrush in the world.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust received funding from several sources: approximately $1 million in endangered species grant money from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, a $700,000 grant from Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and a $1.9 million state appropriation.

Powell credited the efforts of then-State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and State Rep. Norma Smith for gaining the state dollars. She added that donors also chipped in $100,000.

The newly-acquired 46 acres will be combined with the 33-acre Naas Prairie, to  form the 79-acre Admiralty Inlet Preserve, which will also include undeveloped marine bluff shoreline. The Naas Prairie also has rare golden paintbrush growing on it.

The land trust held an event this past weekend to celebrate the acquisition of the land and offer tours of the newly-named preserve, which is one of 51 such preserves in Washington.

The Admiralty Inlet Preserve is just one of the projects the land trust is involved with on Central Whidbey.

The group is undertaking a restoration project of 100 acres in and around Crockett Lake, which is located near the ferry terminal at Keystone Harbor. Powell said the land trust is working with Seattle Pacific University to preserve an additional 200 acres. That deal should be completed near the end of 2014, Powell said.

She added planning is underway to develop a trail system that would connect Fort Casey to Coupeville and Ebey’s Landing.

The land trust recently participated in a deal to tie up more than 100 acres of farmland owned by the Muzzall family north of Penn Cove.