By RON NEWBERRY
Special to the Record
Pat Powell has worked with conservation buyers before, but the call she received last spring was still a wonderful surprise.
The caller was looking for help finding a noteworthy forest property on South Whidbey to purchase for preservation.
Powell, executive director of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, met with the caller.
The more the two talked, the more Powell’s heart warmed as she realized the impact such a purchase could make toward local conservation.
The discussion led to the protection of a 140-acre forest northwest of Langley that ties together three other protected forestlands. It is an amazing forest full of wetlands, a lush understory and mature trees.
It is also a haven for native wildlife, including reptiles and amphibians and an exciting variety of birds.
The conservation buyer wishes to remain anonymous. She purchased the land from Waterman Enterprises, then donated a conservation easement to us that removed all development and commercial forestry rights. The property is now protected in perpetuity as a wildlife refuge and has been named “Raven’s Forest Forever.”
Raven’s Forest Forever is located in one of 27 areas in Island County identified as high conservation priorities by the Land Trust. This particular priority area on South Whidbey consists of large blocks of forest held in private and public ownership. With Raven’s Forest Forever, the Land Trust has protected more than 1,100 acres in this priority area.
“These large acreages are really important to maintain the incredible quality of life we enjoy on our islands,” Powell said.
“Conserved lands keep our water and air clean and control and filter surface water.
Contiguous forestland is critical to provide habitat for a variety of our native bird species and other wildlife.”
Debra Waterman, of Waterman Enterprises called the purchase an “optimal situation” for her family.
The Watermans selectively logged the property in the past instead of clear-cutting it, a major reason it was so appealing for conservation purposes.
The forest also connects with three other protected forest properties, including Harry Case’s Forest Forever.
Case, another incredibly generous donor, gifted all of the development rights on his adjacent 168-acre forest to the Land Trust in 2009. Case’s forest is full of towering giants.
The Whidbey Camano Land Trust is a nonprofit nature conservation organization that actively involves the community in protecting, restoring and appreciating the important natural habitats and resource lands that support the diversity of life on our islands and in the waters of Puget Sound.