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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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The Entrance to Samish Island Conserved!

Thanks to overwhelming community support, Skagit Land Trust (the Trust) has purchased 50 more acres at the entrance to Samish Island and will manage this land as part of its Samish Island Conservation Area. The property protects 1,600 feet of marine shoreline on Padilla Bay and 900 feet on Samish (Alice) Bay. The Trust now protects 100 acres at the entrance to Samish Island and over a half a mile of marine shoreline. The recently acquired property features a slough, freshwater wetlands and open space, salt marsh, and tidelands on Alice Bay. A federal National Coastal Wetlands grant, and an anticipated state grant were matched by community donations to secure the property.

“This property is diverse and important for the northern Puget Sound,” said Conservation Project Manager, Kari Odden. “It supports a beach, freshwater wetlands, tidal marsh, a small creek, and tidelands. It may provide future opportunity to restore a portion of what once was an intricate shoreline and sheltered tidal wetlands that provided habitat for juvenile salmonids, crab, herring and millions of worms, shrimp, clams and other invertebrates.”

Padilla Bay Shoreline on the property.

The acquisition ensures that the entrance to Samish Island will forever be natural open space. The Trust will allow public beach access along Padilla Bay for low-impact recreation. The area also has historic and cultural significance for the Coast Salish people.

Skagit Land Trust’s Executive Director Molly Doran said, “More than 200 families, businesses, and organizations rose to the call this spring and made generous donations to help purchase this property. We had a great opportunity but a large financial challenge and a rapidly approaching deadline. We could not have met it without their help.”

The historic path of the slough in dark grey.

The Trust also partnered with the Washington State Department of Ecology, who helped secure an $875,000 grant from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation (NCWC) Grant Program to assist in purchasing and restoring the property. The Trust is working to secure further grant funds which will help repay loans taken out for the purchase and assist in property restoration. Partners who submitted support letters to help secure these competitive grants include the Samish Indian Nation, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Skagit Audubon, Skagit County Public Works, and Samish Island Neighbors to the Property.

“The support shown by the community to purchase this property was overwhelming. We had a little over two months between when we knew we had been awarded the NCWC grant and could begin fundraising, and when we needed to close on the property,” said Development Director, Laura Hartner. “Since we could not take people out for tours on the land due to COVID, we switched to reaching out online. More than 100 people from the Island and well beyond, joined us for small online meetings about the project and helped spread the word to their friends and neighbors. It was heartening to see how much the community cares about this place.”

The accelerated timeline of the project meant the Trust needed to purchase the property before receiving grant funds. Two generous anonymous families stepped forward and provided short-term, no-interest loans, making it possible to close on the property by the April deadline.

The 100 acres now protected by the Trust at the entrance to Samish Island includes the Samish Island Conservation Area composed of this property and the Samish Flower Farm, and an adjoining private conservation easement. Jim Squires Jr and Cliff Squires donated the conservation easement over fifteen years ago. This newly protected land was also part of the former Squires homestead.

Property outline with surrounding conserved lands.

“The Trust is excited to steward this special place and work with our partners, including local tribes, and the community on restoration possibilities,” said Stewardship Director, Regina Wandler. “We will start by doing a site cleanup but have several steps to go through before work can begin. The unoccupied house will temporarily be left standing while we prepare for cleanup, house removal, and develop a full plan for the property. A renter will continue living on the property in an RV next to the house for several months. Thus, at this time, the interior part of the property is closed to public access.”

The Padilla Bay shoreline is accessible to the public from the Samish Flower Farm trail on Samish Island Road. The Trust has been working on developing an upland trail through the forest of Samish Flower Farm with volunteer support and is looking forward to opening it for public use sometime this year. Visitors to the beach are asked to keep their pets on a leash and take dog baggies home to ensure continued access for pets, while conserving the health of this beautiful property and the waters and critical eel grass habitat of Padilla Bay. You can reach Regina Wandler, the Stewardship Director for Skagit Land Trust, at if you have questions about property management.

Stewardship Director Regina Wandler, Conservation Director Michael Kirshenbaum, and Board Member Roger Fuller.

Skagit Land Trust is still accepting gifts to assist with purchase costs and future restoration and stewardship. Please click here, to make a donation. Thank you for your help in caring for special places across Samish Island!

About Skagit Land Trust: Skagit Land Trust is a local non-profit conservation organization supported by over 1,600 individuals, families and businesses that protects important natural lands for the benefit of the community and for future generations of people and wildlife. Working with communities, landowners, and partners, the Trust has protected more than 8,560 acres of land and 46 miles of marine and freshwater shoreline in Skagit County. For more information about this project, visit

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