Bainbridge Island Land Trust - Working together to protect the Island's natural resources
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.


Tom von Schrader

This 10-acre property includes rolling, open meadows and forest

When Tom von Schrader found his rolling, open meadow and forested 10-acre property above the south shore of Eagle Harbor in 1992, the out-of-state seller had already negotiated a potential easement with the recently formed Bainbridge Island Land Trust. It was up to Tom to decide whether or not he wanted to complete the easement with the Land Trust, or to purchase the land without that restriction.

For Tom, this was an easy decision. As a principal in SvR Design, a Seattle-based firm providing services in the areas of restoration ecology and low impact development, Tom was happy to accept this opportunity to bring part of his professional creed into his personal life.

Tom reports that his experience with the Land Trust in the past 15 years has been great. He welcomes the annual stewardship walks, and the opportunity to interact with other Land Trust members. He feels that as a result of this interaction he learns more about his property every year. Tom hopes to be able to become more actively involved with the Land Trust when his hectic work schedule permits.

Cestjon McFarland and Tom Goodlin

This 4.5 acre parcel contains wetlands, second growth forest, and streams

Cestjon McFarland and her husband, Tom Goodlin enjoy nature and the outdoors. They moved to Bainbridge Island to raise their family in a place where they could be closer to the natural environment and wildlife. They settled on a slice of the incredible natural environment on the south end of Bainbridge Island. A large wetland encompasses 5,000 square feet of the property and is fed by a seasonal stream. Willows, cattails and  slough sedge surround the wetland, providing abundant habitat for birds and other wild creatures. A variety of evergreen and deciduous trees, including big leaf maple, red alder, western red cedar and Douglas fir surround the property. Native shrubs create a magical under story for the children of the household to explore. Cestjon says, “The conservation easement is a small gesture to preserve for our children and others some of the natural assets that we value so highly.”

Bob and Nancy Fortner

Contiguous to the Grand Forest, this 10-acre property features a seasonal stream, pond and second-growth trees

Bob and Nancy Fortner looked at many properties before deciding on the bucolic 10-acre site they now call home. After living in a small trailer on the site for 3 1/2 years while designing and building their lodge-style residence, the Fortners learned to appreciate the serenity, privacy and connection to the seasons that the land provided them. The parcel includes a healthy second growth forest with large Douglas fir, western hemlock, big leaf maple and bitter cherry trees. A pond is fed from a seasonal stream that runs through the property and is often the site of a variety of waterfowl. The stream is part of the waters that eventually run into Murden Cove. The Fortners used the wood logged on the property to construct the majority of the house (only the bead board and the trusses were “imported”). Their decision to grant an easement was one the family considered for a while before deciding to pursue it. “We were concerned about our privacy and serentity,” Bob says. “We talked to a lot of people and the Land Trust.  It continues to be important, but we have developed a level of "trust" with the Land Trust in terms of respect for this value. The last "benefit" is one that came unexpectedly to the Fortners. According to Bob, “We realized that by placing this easement we are creating a legacy. The fact that no changes, other than natural, will occur on this little piece of the planet is actually daunting in scope. This unexpected benefit has become really the most significant one.”

Frank and Mary Stowell

The property is a rich ecosystem of forest, wetland and stream

Frank and Mary Stowell found Bainbridge Island on a return trip from camping in the Olympics. They had been looking for a place to live in the Seattle area and had visited Mercer Island, Bothell, and Woodinville among other places. What they found in 1983 was a bucolic Island with large swaths of open land and a real sense of community. Things have changed since 1983. “I wondered why they’d bothered with a park (at Fort Ward) when there seemed to be so much open space,” remembers Frank. “I used to walk around the entire Island.”

The family purchased an old Port Blakely Mill house on two acres that abutted the former Bucklin Farm homestead. The Farm property was owned by environmentalists Jerome and Elane Hellmuth. In the 1980s there was a cow in residence and the Hellmuths had put the property into Kitsap County's Open Space program. Frank helped the Hellmuths construct the trail through the Farm property. The Stowell Family enjoyed the peace and quiet their extended backyard provided and often wandered along the woodland trails. Ellie and Emily, the Stowell’s two daughters, spent time exploring the woods, naming some of the trees, and having tree tea parties.

Changes began to take place right next door. In 1994, the Hellmuths sold a portion of their land to Hyla Middle School. Then in 1999, local developer John Green purchased 50 acres right behind the Stowell property to build homes. Zoned for 22 homesites, Green decided to build only five homes on lots ranging from 6.5 to almost 18 acres. In order to protect the wetlands and forest, the Greens placed a conservation easement on the balance of the property. The easement allows only one home to be built in designated building zones on each of the five lots.

The Stowells watched the lots sell one by one. All but one was sold by 2002. The largest lot, 17.98 acres, was on the market for quite awhile. “Every time someone came close to buying the lot, I realized again how much this property meant to me,” Mary Stowell said. Green took the property off the market. At the same time, Frank became a Board Member of the Land Trust and became the Land Trust’s Stewardship Lead for the purchased lots. “The new owners included me as the Land Trust representative in all of their homeowner’s association meetings,” says Frank. “I helped develop the trails and knew I wanted to stay connected with the property”.

It was at Mary’s urging that the Stowells purchased the 17.98 acre parcel from John Green in January 2005.  Their appreciation for the land and for the incredible natural area literally right in their own backyard has increased exponentially. “We walk in the woods at least twice a day,” the Stowells said. “It helps you feel the wonderful energy of life. We aren’t conscious of time out there.” Frank says. “The trees (primarily cedar and spruce) give us a sense of quiet composure.”

For now, the 1/3 acre building site on the property remains untouched. The Stowells feel fortunate that they can take their time deciding how and when to build a home. They also are interested in building a sustainable “green” house that makes the least impact on the environment.

“What we like best is being quiet in the woods,” says Frank. “We let the trees and the animals tell their own stories. We observe.” Mary likens the land to a “moving canvas”. “It is always changing,” she says. Some changes on Bainbridge Island are for the better.
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