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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.

Quitslund Legacy Land

Quitslund Legacy Land Ushers in New Model for Island Conservation

By Hilary Hilscher

 
A three-generation landowner family and a long-time local home builder have teamed up with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust to create a new and innovative model for island conservation that integrates a nine home clustered neighborhood with nearly 20 acres of conservation land. In 2013, the four Quitslund brothers of Bainbridge Island - Jon, Jim, Dana, and Gary - approached the Land Trust to explore ways to honor the history of the family's 27.5 acres, protect its ecologically sensitive habitat and fish-bearing stream, and meet their financial goals. To accomplish this meant finding the right partners to strike a delicate balance between development and conservation.
The core parcel of 20 acres was half of a working farm created by Sigrid and Johann Quitslund after their marriage in 1902. The Quitslunds' third son, Ford, inherited the parcel, to which he and his wife Eve later added 2.5 more acres of the original farm. In 1980, Ford decided to return the land to forest, and developed a Forestland Management Plan. The preamble to the document still rings true today:
 
Gradually, Bainbridge Island's forests have been cut in favor of residential development. Reserving publicly owned land is not enough to prevent this process from destroying the very environment that attracts new residents. Private landowners must be able to resist the economic pressures toward over-development, in favor of maintaining the scenic and ecological value of the land for the benefit of the entire community.
 
Photo: Jim, Gary, Jon, and Dana Quitslund on the family land. Photo by Joel Sackett. 
 
In 2009 Dana and his wife Nancy acquired an adjacent five acres, also part of his grandparents' original holding. This final acquisition includes a spectacular ravine carved out by Dripping Water Creek, which runs across the property and eventually empties into Puget Sound. While Ford Quitslund had approached the Land Trust nearly 20 years ago exploring ideas for conservation, it was in 2013 that work began in earnest between the organization and his four sons. The Land Trust researched and sought potential conservation buyers, and presented the options to the family. The brothers ultimately selected Ray Stevenson of Jefferson Fine Home Builders (JFHB) to purchase the property, develop nine one-acre residential lots sensitive to the legacy of the Quitslund land, and involve the Land Trust in the protection and stewardship of the rest of the acreage.
 
"I liked the potential when I first heard about the property," said Ray Stevenson. "But when I met the Quitslunds, I knew I wanted to accept the responsibility for the area's agrarian and family heritage, to both build homes and protect the natural habitat."
 

Brenda Padgham and Ray Stevenson discuss plans for the future of the property. PC: Paul Brians.
Paul Brians documents the beautiful natural features that the Land Trust is working to preserve.  
Plans for the future include a trail system that will be open to the public. 

JFHB closed on the purchase of the property in May 2016, and will donate in the future - yes, donate - 19.5acres of conservation area to the Land Trust to own, manage and implement a stewardship plan that is being jointly developed by JFHB and the Land Trust. 

Stewardship of the property will focus on enhancing and protecting the wetlands, forest, and Dripping Water creek which flows through the property. Removal of invasive plant species, restoration of the riparian habitat and fish passage on the stream, and siting public trails are components of the plans for the property.  


"Stewardship of the property was a responsibility that Dad took very seriously," says Jon Quitslund. "It kept him active to the end of his life, and that established strong bonds with his sons and grandsons." 
 
"The Land Trust recognizes the finite amount of land available to conserve," shared Brenda. "And we may reach out to other non-traditional partners going forward, to protect our streams, shorelines, wetlands and other important habitats. We're truly honored to be working with the Quitslund family and Ray and his JFHB team on this very special Bainbridge Island effort." 
 
Photos by Paul Brians unless otherwise noted. 

For more information email Brenda Padgham at brenda@bi-landtrust.org

or call (206) 842-1216.

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