Back in late July, I wrote an article about the Library’s August 2019 First Friday Art Walk exhibit, which featured the artwork and photography for the newly released book, Natural Bainbridge (you can read that article here). The book was published by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, an organization I was interested in learning more about.
The Bainbridge Island Land Trust is dedicated to the protection, preservation and sustainability of our island’s natural environment. The Land Trust was established in 1989 when a group of islanders became concerned about growth on Bainbridge Island and the effect that growth would have on our natural environment—the Trust was an avenue to provide landowners with a way to permanently protect and preserve their property from development. Since its inception, the Land Trust has assisted in protecting more than a thousand acres of forestlands, wetlands, meadows, shorelines, agricultural lands, scenic vistas, lakes, ponds and streams. To date, they have protected 1,417 acres, more than 1,080 of which, are preserved as public parks and natural areas. In addition, they have almost 50 conservation easements.
The Land Trust isn’t just about protecting land from development though, it’s also about involving the community in the stewardship of those lands, as well as making them available for all to enjoy. They offer several wonderful volunteer and educational opportunities that will expand your knowledge of our environment, while making new friends and getting a bit of fun outdoor exercise at the same time.
Stewardship Monitoring is one such program; volunteers assist in monitoring the Land Trust properties (both owned and easements) by visiting them to determine any changes in the natural systems, connecting with easement landowners, ensuring compliance with easement restrictions, and identifying areas that may need additional conservation efforts. It’s a fantastic way to contribute while also visiting some of the island’s important natural areas.
First Wednesday Work Parties is another fun way to support the stewardship and conservation efforts by the Land Trust. Each first Wednesday of the month, volunteers and official stewards spend the morning doing restoration work at the conserved properties—many of which are not currently open to the public—this includes invasive plant removal, mulching, planting native vegetation, trail maintenance and general clean-up.
Land Trust Teen Conservation Crew offers high-school students, 14 years and older, summer employment opportunities performing stewardship tasks (many of which are mentioned above), while educating them on the unique and vital ecosystem of our island, as well as achieving a positive impact on our natural environment.
Events sponsored by the Land Trust include the Annual Membership Meeting & Potluck in January, their Fall Native Plan Sale, the BI Fourth of July Parade, FREE invasive weed disposal program, free beach explorations led by trained naturalists, and much, much more.
The Land Trust is always looking for advisors, such as wildlife and fisheries biologists, botanists, geologists, hydrologists and more. For more information on volunteer opportunities, click here.
One of the largest campaigns in Land Trust history is the Stand for the Land project; a two-year initiative to obtain and safeguard as much land from growing development as possible, which in turn will preserve the critical habitats of the island’s flora and fauna. Thus far, they have secured forty-three acres, and their continuous efforts are working to expand several other conservation areas, such as the Jablonko Preserve, Cougar Creek Preserve, and Miller-Kirkman Preserve.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, they published Natural Bainbridge, a special fact-filled guide to the island’s beautiful parks, preserves, and protected spaces. The book was created by longtime Land Trust supporters—producer Zan Merriman, editor Hilary Hilscher, project manager Erin Kellogg, and designer Cheryl Tlam, who volunteered their individual and exceptional skills towards the creation of the book—together with photographer Paul Brians, and artist Cameron Snow. A portion of the proceeds support the continued efforts of the Land Trust, the book can be purchased at Eagle Harbor Book Co., located in downtown Bainbridge Island.
For a map of all the Bainbridge Island Land Trust protected spaces, click here.
*Images and logos provided by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust
*Photograph copyrights: Gazzam Lake © Pete Saloutos; Hilltop path/meadow © Paul Brians; Agate Passage Preserve – Meadow and Shoreline w/ people © Paul Brians; Agate Passage Preserve – no people – shoreline © Shaun Swalley; Kirkby Work Party – BI Land Trust Staff Photo; Ferguson-Micaud Conservation Easement Property – pond, etc. © Shaun Swalley; Work Party – BI Land Trust Staff Photo; Cougar Creek Preserve (part of Stand for the Land) – Big Tree ©Sue Larkin; Miller-Kirkman Preserve (part of Stand for the Land) –mom and daughter near the shore © Sue Larkin