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Party planned on the prairie

"An old-fashioned barn party is shaping up on Ebey's Prairie.The Trust Board of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve and the Nature Conservancy of Washington are hosting a party at the Smith Farm on Ebey's Prairie from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 6.The event, which is free and open to the public, is being held to celebrate the protection - via donation and purchase by the Nature Conservancy - of more than 500 acres of bluff and forest land that once belonged to Robert Pratt.Honoring Pratt's stewardship and protection of the land is the other purpose of the party. A dedication ceremony honoring Pratt and other supporters will be held from 1:30 to 2 p.m. Pratt, who was 84 when he died, grew up on, then inherited, more than 650 acres in the heart of the reserve. The land - including fields, forests, beaches, historic buildings, part of Parego's Lake and the Bluff Trail - is arguably the most desirable area on the reserve. The bluff trail alone attracts thousands of hikers each year with its winding, climbing trail overlooking Admiralty Inlet and the Olympic Mountains to the west.Throughout his life, Pratt rejected offers to sell or develop his land. But his death raised concerns among the reserve's supporters as to who would inherit the land and what would they do with it.Some of those fears were allayed when terms of Pratt's will surfaced, stipulating that four parcels, totalling about 127 acres, be acquired by a non-profit agency, such as the Nature Conservancy, for example, as my Executor may deem most appropriate. ...Pratt's executor, the Seattle law firm Oles, Rinker and Baker, deemed The Nature Conservancy was the most appropriate agency. The firm also negotiated the sale of the bulk of Pratt's estate - another 407 acres willed to an East Coast woman and slated to go on sale on the open market - to the Conservancy for $5 million. The event is a chance for us to say thank you. Thank you to Robert Pratt, who had the foresight to protect this land, to the Whidbey community and to our many donors, said Curt Soper, director of the Conservancy's conservation programs.I've been waiting for this day for two decades, said reserve manager Rob Harbour. This is truly a moment in history worth celebrating.Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve was created by Congress in 1978 and is comprised of 17,000-acres of farmland, beach and forest in the heart of Central Whidbey. Much of it is privately owned. With the recent purchase, Harbour said, more than 2,140 acres on the reserve will be protected from development.The donation and sale of Pratt's land to the Nature Conservancy represents the largest single acquisition for protection since the reserve's creation. ----------------Prairie partyWhat: Party on the Prairie includes refreshments, bluff and beach walks, live music, an an Ebey's art show and wagon rides. Party-goers are also invited to bring picnic lunches.Where: Smith Farm on Ebey's Prairie, 339 S. Ebey Road from When: From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 6.Also, the Nature Conservancy of Washington and the Trust Board of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve are inviting artists who have painted or photographed Ebey's Landing to display their work at the Aug.6 celebration.The non-juried exhibit is open to all artists and photographers interested in participating. Artists will be responsible for bringing their work to the event and picking it up afterward.For information, or to participate, call the Coupeville Arts Center: 678-3396."

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