Ebey's Landing preserves more land

"With a new century dawning, another portion of the old has been preserved. And what a piece.Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve has acquired a conservation easement over 103 acres of the Burton Engle property, located smack dab in the heart of Ebey’s Prairie and partially fronting Admiralty Inlet, reserve manager Rob Harbour said this week.The property, which includes 950 feet of Admiralty Inlet waterfront, occupies the northwest corner of an area bordered by Ebey Road and Hill Road. The historic Ferry House and Ebey’s Landing are just to the south. The easement will preclude any future development and limit use of the land to agricultural use only. Much of the land is currently farmed.It also ensures that one-tenth of the Reserves 17,400 acres is permanently protected, and bodes well for the future, said Harbour said.“This piece of land has been on our top priority list since 1980,” Harbour said. “I’m thankful to the Engle family. This deal has taken almost two years and we were lucky they were so patient.”The land is owned by a branch of the Engle family but was not part of Engle Farms, which include 500 acres that are currently the subject of bankruptcy proceedings. Ebey’s Landing’s aesthetic and historical value to Whidbey Island is incalculable, Harbour said. The site of one of the earliest European settlements in Washington state, the reserve sprawls over 17,400 acres of hills, grass land, farms and forest. Admiralty Inlet and the Cascade Mountains are visible from many of its vistas.Most of the homes and farm outbuildings on the reserve reflect the past architecturally, and accentuate the historic ambiance of the area.It has also become a magnet for people who value open spaces and views, Harbour said. Developers also.Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve was created through Congressional action in 1978, to protect the area from development.Its establishment set up a unique arrangement, whereby the National Park Service primarily acquires conservation easements to protect the landscape from development while the property remains in private ownership as working farms or forests.Four agencies share management responsibility for the reserve, including the National Park Service, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Island County and the town of Coupeville. The Burton Engle property is part of the original Donation Land Claim made on the prairie by Capt. Isaac Ebey in the 1850s.Situated in the heart of the Reserve, it was prime property for a subdivision, Harbour said. Working with the Burton Engle family, the National Park Service and the Trust for Public Lands, a non-profit land conservation organization, the reserve was able to acquire the land’s development rights for about $600,000.Federal money was used for the purchase. Last year that fund was boosted by U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., who added $1.5 million for Ebey’s Prairie onto the 1999 appropriations bill. Gorton is chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations. “We appreciate the hard work of both the Trust for Public Land and the Burton Engle family,” Harbour said. “The Engles have cared for this land for generations and have now protected it as prime farmland forever. What a nice way to start the new millennium.”The deal for the Burton Engle property was brokered by the Trust for Public Lands. The TPL is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to preserving land of recreational, historical and historical significance. Since its founding in 1972, the trust has protected more than 1.15 million acres nationwide valued at more than $1.7 billion. "

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