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Conserving wildlife habitat, agricultural and forest lands, scenic open space, wetlands, and shorelines for the benefit of our community and as a legacy for future generations.

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Conserving the Entrance to Samish Island

***Scroll to the bottom to see a pre-recorded informational meeting about the project***

Skagit Land Trust has an immediate opportunity to purchase an approximately 50-acre property that serves as the entrance to Samish Island. This property is adjacent to the Trust’s recently conserved Samish Flower Farm.

Skagit Land Trust (the Trust) is reaching out to our members to raise at least $410,000 to purchase and begin much needed clean-up and restoration efforts on the property. These donations, together with Trust funds, a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant, and an applied for state grant will be used to purchase the property in the next two months and steward it.

This is a unique property and rare opportunity. Just before you drive onto Samish Island, you pass over a narrow neck of land connecting the Island to the Samish Flats. With views of Padilla Bay to the west, and Samish Bay to the east, this land holds an important history for the people and wildlife of Skagit County. The thin ribbon of Siwash Slough, which historically snaked from one bay to the other, is a faint echo of the dynamic shoreline that used to exist here.

The Samish Island entrance property has been stewarded over the years by the Squires family, who have a long history on the Island. In 1995, James Squires Jr donated a conservation easement on 11 acres of his family’s land which lies across the road from the property the Trust is currently working to purchase. His son added nearly three acres to this easement in 2004, honoring his father’s wishes to protect the forest, scenic view, heronry, and wildlife these woods contained. The current owner, also a Squires family member, now wishes to sell his land to Skagit Land Trust and is pleased it will be protected forever. This newly conserved property connects directly to the Trust’s Samish Flower Farm property and will extend shoreline protection and beach access on Padilla Bay.

If the Trust can purchase the property, near-term stewardship actions include clean-up of the land including removing structures, controlling invasive species, enhancing wildlife habitat, and providing low impact public beach access on Padilla Bay. The property will also be used as a Conservation Classroom site, allowing local youth to learn about the importance of marine shorelines, wetlands, and salt marshes. Students can also help with restoration and stewardship activities.

Our ownership of this land along with the adjacent Samish Flower Farm, will allow us to explore long-term restoration options with partners and the community. The lowlands of these properties were once an area of tidal wetlands including salt marsh. We plan to research possibilities of returning part of the land back to this valuable and increasingly rare type of ecosystem. Restoring salt marsh habitat would serve as a nursery for fish and marine wildlife, and would protect the adjacent lands from storms, while also trapping gases like carbon and nitrogen.

Left to right: the historic shoreline shows how large and dynamic Siwash Slough and the area’s salt marsh once was; the current limited path of Siwash Slough.

The Samish Indian Nation has pledged the support of their Natural Resources Team and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer in these restoration efforts. The Coast Salish People inhabited the Skagit and San Juan Islands and surrounding territory for thousands of years before European contact. A large Samish village was situated at the east end of Samish Island. The Samish Indian Nation states that, “The area has tremendous cultural significance to the Tribe”.

We are close to making the preservation of this historic and ecologically important place a reality, but we need your help. Your donation to the Samish Island Entrance Campaign will be matched dollar for dollar by a $50,000 challenge match from a group of Trust members. Please join us in saving this special place for generations of people and wildlife.

Watch the informational zoom meeting presented to members on March 15th.

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