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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.

Land Stewards and Land Steward Aides

Are you interested in helping to protect and care for a special place in the Skagit? The Skagit Land Trust is always seeking volunteers for our Land Stewards program!

Volunteer land stewards and land steward aides are vital to insuring preservation of the outstanding values for which the property was acquired. Effective stewardship requires a long-term commitment to the land, which can be best achieved when an individual adopts a property and provides stewardship for successive years.

Skagit Land Trust Land Steward Dick Raisler installs a property sign. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

Volunteer Land Stewards adopt one of Skagit Land Trust's properties and provide stewardship over a long period of time. As eyes and ears for the Trust, Land Stewards:

  • visit 'their' property at least quarterly to see what has been happening in their absence;
  • periodically take photographs at designated points to document changes;
  • perform minor maintenance on the property, remove invasive plants, talk to neighbors, initiate investigations of encroachments;
  • report findings to the Trust staff.

Volunteer Land Steward Aide is a new position started in 2017. Land Steward Aides are essential to maintaining our stewardship goals and responsibilities at all of our conservation areas by accompanying Land Stewards to 'their' property and assisting with various tasks. Land steward aids are interested in regular stewardship activities but not committed to a single property. Land Steward Aides will gain more knowledge about properties than volunteers that join for one-time stewardship events. With this experience, Aides may wish to become Land Stewards of an assigned property when an appropriate location becomes available.

Click on the links below for more details.

If this position is of interest to you or someone you know, please contact a Stewardship staff
member at (360) 428-7878 or

Bengt Miller

Day Creek Kosbab

Many of you know Bengt already as a vital partner at Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and his brief stint as a Land Steward Aide. Bengt became the Steward for Day Creek Kosbab in late 2017. If not working to protect salmon, or stewarding DCK you can probably find him wherever there is an Ultimate Frisbee game.

Brenda Cunningham and Tim Manns

Barney Lake Conservation Area

In 1998, Brenda and Tim became stewards of Barney Lake. Brenda is originally from Illinois and Tim from Massachusetts, but they are ingrained in the Skagit now. Both are active in various environmental programs. Tim worked as Head of Interpretation at North Cascades National Park before retiring in 2006, and Brenda was our stewardship director until 2007. Brenda is a past member of the Trust's board, and Tim is a current board member.

Dennis Clark and Lynne Jordan

Fidalgo Bay Carstens Conservation Area

Dennis Clark and Lynne Jordan have served as land stewards for the Fidalgo Bay Carstens Conservation Area since 2017.

Dennis Dagley

Butler Creek Conservation Area

Dennis Dagley signed on as the land steward for Butler Creek Conservation Area in 2018.

Dennis Stanchfield

Hurn Field Conservation Area

Dennis Stanchfield has served as the land steward for Hurn Field Conservation area in Concrete since 2017. Dennis loves to hike and is a fan of birdwatching and plein-air painting. He is excited through this position to "give back a little" to the Skagit Valley and the Skagit Land Trust.

Ed and Carolyn Gastellum

Guemes Mountain Conservation Area · Guemes Valley Conservation Area

Ed and Carolyn have lived in the Skagit for 20 years. Carolyn’s career as an elementary school teacher and Ed’s as a Park Manager for the National Park Service, and then as Assistant Superintendent of North Cascades National Park, has allowed them to root here. They took on one of our newest, biggest public access properties with Guemes. Carolyn joined SLT's board in 2011.

Edward Anderson

Cascade River South 1 &2 Conservation Areas · Douglas Island Conservation Area

Edward Anderson serves as the land steward for the Cascade River south properties (1 and 2) and Douglas Island and began his work with Skagit Land Trust in 2018. Edward holds a Sc.B. in Forestry Engineering from the University of Washington College of Forest Resources and has worked on various Native Growth Protection Areas and wetland buffer restoration projects in Mukilteo. Edward often spends time along the upper Skagit River and is excited to volunteer with the Skagit Land Trust.

Eliana and Thyatira Thompson

Kelly's Point Conservation Area (Guemes Island)

Eliana and Thyatira Thompson signed on as land stewards for the Skagit Land Trust in 2018 when the Kelly's Point property was acquired on Guemes Island. The couple currently serve as land stewards for neighboring Vendovi Island Preserve, managed by the San Juan Preservation Trust.

Hal Lee

Day Creek Slough- Conservation Area · Minkler Lake Conservation Area

Hal became the Day Creek Slough land steward in 2008. He courageously took on a second property, Minkler Lake, in 2010. At both properties, Hal wears himself out waging war on blackberries, canary grass and knotweed. Hal worked in electronics and hydraulics at Team Corporation, and in Oceanography at the University of Washington.

Heidi and Matt Hixson

Big Lake Wetlands Conservation Area

Heidi and Matt have lived in Skagit County for over 15 years. Matt has volunteered with the Mount Vernon Trail Builders and has a true passion for protecting sustainable land. Heidi works for the Mount Vernon School District and hopes to help impart the caring of Skagit onto the next generation. Skagit County is certainly one of the most beautiful places:preserving, maintaining and enjoying it are the main goals for them becoming Land Stewards.

Ian Woofenden

Guemes Mountain Conservation Area · Guemes Valley Conservation Area

Ian believes that land preservation is the most direct and effective way to improve the physical environment, so Ian became an SLT Land Steward in 2014 after living on Guemes for 35 years. Ian maintains trails on Guemes while enjoying the forests and views of magical sunrises and sunsets. He has a varied background in renewable energy writing, editing, consulting, sales, and teaching. When not enjoying Guemes Mountain with other happy hikers, Ian gardens, makes music, and walks on the beach.

Janet Cray

Barney Lake Conservation Area

Janet grew up in a military family moving around the country, but for the past 23 years has established deep roots within the community around her home near Barney Lake in Mount Vernon. She has been a professional wetland scientist for over 10 years and has always wanted to get to know more about Barney Lake, especially since her favorite part of her job is slogging through wetlands looking for amphibian egg masses. In 2015, she volunteered at Skagit Land Trust to help with amphibian surveys at Barney Lake, and then in 2016 she applied to become one of the land stewards there and at the newly acquired Bell properties.

Jim and Ranae Watson

Pressentin Ranch Conservation Area

Jim and Ranae have lived adjacent to Pressentin Conservation Area for 20 years and enjoy watching and studying wildlife in the area. Jim has been the statewide Raptor Research Scientist for WDFW for most of his career. For many years, Ranae, a dental office assistant, assisted him on research projects. The Watson's have spent a lot of their married lives bird watching, camping, and hiking in between raising two sons. They appreciate the opportunity to steward the property and to educate their neighbors about the Pressentin Conservation Area’s uniqueness.

Jim Johnson

Cumberland Creek Conservation Area

Jim became a steward of Cumberland Creek in 2006, having stewarded at Day Creek Slough since 2004. A native of Marysville, WA, Jim went east to New York for graduate studies and then spent several years teaching in Oregon before coming home. After operating a small farm, he returned to teaching English for Sedro-Woolley in 1984.

Jim Owens

Butler Creek Conservation Area

Jim made his way west from Kentucky and Indiana. He is president of our Wood Duck Box Club, putting up wood duck boxes and servicing them each year. Retired from a 35-year job in the aerospace industry, Jim stewards his own property and is part of the local Tree Farmer’s group.

John Day

Tope Ryan Conservation Area

John Day has been a land steward at Tope Ryan for three years, and a long-time volunteer for the Trust. He lives in a solar-paneled house in Sedro-Woolley with his wife Martha, our former Conservation Director, and currently works as Weatherization Coordinator for the Housing Authority of Skagit County.

Kinsey Shilling

Utopia Conservation Area

Originally from Maryland, Kinsey has lived in the Skagit Valley for the past eight years and has become attached to the Valley. Since retiring from the National Park Service, Kinsey became interested in volunteer opportunities. After spending a day planting trees at Utopia he decided to become a land steward there. He enjoys spending time at the site.

Kirsten and Tim Colton

Skagit River Kahn Conservation Area

Tim and Kirsten moved to the Birdsview neighborhood in spring 2015; Kirsten operates a freelance editing business and Tim works locally in the agricultural field. They love being outdoors and believe that land conservation is a great way to serve and enhance the health of the local community. They have enjoyed volunteering at and exploring various land trust properties.

Kit Harma

Guemes Mountain Conservation Area · Guemes Valley Conservation Area

Originally from Eugene, Kit has been a Trail Monitor on Guemes Mountain since it became an SLT property and has been the property’s Steward since 2013 (motivated by what he saw on a Skagit Bike Club tour of SLT properties). He even had an unforgettable experience being lost on top of the mountain one New Year’s Eve! Though thistles are a problem at Guemes, Kit’s work there is motivated by the enthusiasm of other folks who visit the site.

LaVerne and Jim Scheltens

March Point Heronry Conservation Area

LaVerne became a steward of the heronry about five years ago. She and Jim enjoy the Great Blue Heron nest count in rain or even snow! Born and raised in Michigan, LaVerne has found a niche here in the Skagit Valley. She spent her career first as a Medical Technologist, then helping to administer a computer network.

Mark Nihart

Cascade River South 1 &2 Conservation Areas · Douglas Island Conservation Area

Mark Nihart serves as the land steward for the Cascade River South Conservation Areas (1 and 2) and Douglas Island Conservation Area and began his position with the Skagit Land Trust in 2018.

Mike Olson

Mud Lake Conservation Area

Mike grew up on the Minnesota prairie and moved to Washington to start a career in forestry.  He has worked for various conservation organizations over the years, including Shenandoah National Park, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Boise National Forest.  When Mike isn’t working in the woods he enjoys backpacking, climbing mountains, and volunteering for local conservation projects.  He is excited to steward the diverse wetlands on the Mud Lake property - hopefully without getting wet!

Paul Ingalls

Washington Eddy Conservation Area

Paul Ingalls signed on as a Land Steward for the Washington Eddy Conservation Area in 2018.

Pete Haase

Samish River - Ochs Conservation Area

Pete became steward at Ochs in 2011. His involvement was only natural – he already seemed to be photographing every single environmental event in Skagit County! He retired from Boeing and is now happily able to spend his time on environmental stewardship in the Samish watershed, as well as caring for bunnies and a cat.

Phil Fenner

Cascade River North (Trezise) Conservation Area

Phil Fenner signed on as a land steward for the Cascade River North Property with the Skagit Land Trust in 2018. Phil is excited about the opportunity to serve as a land steward; he believes in the value of getting to know an area by experiencing it regularly and noting changes over time. Phil is a regular hiker and backpacker and president of the North Cascades Conservation Council:

Phil Kincare

Suiattle River Conservation Easement

Phil recently retired from the US Forest Service after 37 years: the last 16 years were in the Skagit Wild and Scenic River Program. “This program brought me in touch with many of the people and organizations that are protecting and restoring habitat in the Skagit Watershed. Looking after some of the upriver properties in the Volunteer Land Steward Program is a good fit because I live upriver and I am familiar with the properties. I'll be looking after The Nature Conservancy's Wilcox, Rankin and Dupuis properties which are on the Suiattle and Sauk Rivers."

Richard Raisler

Lyman Slough Conservation Area

Hailing from Montana, Richard has lived here 42 years and been a steward for over 10 years. He is now retired, but made his living as a dentist. Past president of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers, and long-time steward for the Trust, Richard says he loves the Skagit River for its beauty and power.

Russ Dalton

Barr Creek Conservation Area

When Russ was asked how he came to be a steward, he answered, “Michael Kirshenbaum promised me a hat and a t-shirt.” He has spearheaded the construction of the trail at Barr Creek. Russ has extensive experience with the National Park Service. He grew up on the Peninsula, but has spent the last third of his life here in Skagit County.

Shelby Zimmerman

Jackman Creek Conservation Area

Shelby Zimmerman currently serves as the Land Steward for the Jackman Creek Conservation Area.

Stan Zyskowski

Day Creek Conservation Area · Day Creek Forest Conservation Area

Since we recruited him in 2009, Stan has also joined our Stewardship committee. Working in Fisheries with the North Cascades National Park brought Stan to the table of the Skagit Watershed Council, where he first worked with Skagit Land Trust after being a longtime member. Now he is a part time fish biologist with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group while working on large stream improvement projects and monitoring.

Steffany Raynes and Lin Skavdahl

Hurn Field Conservation Area

Steffany and Lin have lived upriver in Marblemount since 2005, but Lin is originally from the Central Valley of California where she lived near the Stanislaus River. Steffany grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Both were educators in the Seattle area. Now Lin works as a Seasonal Park Ranger for North Cascades National Park and both enjoy the lovely Skagit.

Tamara Thomas and Tom Mayes

Sumner Lake Conservation Area

As local (Lake Cavanaugh) kayakers, Tamara and Tom knew about the floating island and were curious about how to access the lake. After walking down and seeing the amazing ecosystem, they couldn’t help but get involved! They’re a great fit – Tamara is an environmental engineer, and Tom works in wastewater treatment.

Tara McGowan & Kevin Crozier

Upper Skagit Conservation Easement

Tara and Kevin purchased their farm in Rockport in 2008 and became full-time residents in 2013. They have been occupied with planting trees, raising a few animals and enjoying a rural life. Tara is originally from California and worked in medicine. Kevin is from Massachusetts and worked in K-12 education. Both are happy to be retired and are pleased to be part of the Skagit community. Becoming stewards for Upper Skagit 1 is an opportunity for them to care for a mature forest while their own trees grow.