Heart of Ebey’s Reserve saved

The land surrounding one of the most historic of buildings in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve will be preserved forever, barring any unforeseen circumstances in the U.S. Senate or the White House.

An expected federal appropriations means the 150-year-old Ferry House will remain a lonely, indelible structure at the end of Ebey’s Road on Central Whidbey, uncrowded by trophy homes that ruin the illusion of bygone days.

“We’re thrilled to get the piece of property protected as part of the working landscape of the reserve,” said Reserve Manager Mark Preiss.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the House Interior Appropriations bill, which earmarks $500,000 from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to the National Park Service for the long-term protection of 35 acres surrounding the 150-year-old Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing.

The companion bill in the Senate is awaiting a full vote, but is expected to pass with the funding intact. After the House and Senate agree on a final version of the bill, it will go to President Bush for his signature.

The park service will use the money to purchase an easement on the acreage from The Nature Conservation, a group dedicated to preserving plants, animals and natural communities. The organization owns the acres surrounding the Ferry House.

The Conservancy, as seller of the easement, will use all the funds it receives to establish an endowment for long-term ecological and historic stewardship at the reserve.

The Conservancy has already dedicated $100,000 to the Trust Board, establishing this fund. A unit of local government, the Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, is charged with management as called for in the legislation creating the reserve.

The Trust Board and The Nature Conservancy praised U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Lake Stevens) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), as well as U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Tacoma) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) for their strong support of this effort, according to a press release.

“This funding will help preserve land at the heart of Ebey’s Landing, one of Washington state’s natural and historic treasures,” Larsen said in a press release. “I applaud Senator Murray, Representative Dicks, and the great team of local residents and leaders, including The Nature Conservancy, for their work to protect this unique community for generations to come.”

For the Ferry House, the appropriation is another significant event in a long and interesting history, from serving as a frontier tavern to a backdrop in a Hollywood movie.

“It’s really an important landmark,” said Al Sherman, a member of the Trust Board.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

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