Editorial: We can trust the Land Trust

The most remarkable fundraising effort in Island County history was pulled off by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust last week when it signed the deed for 664 acres of forested land just south of Greenbank, off Highway 525.

The nonprofit organization raised $4.2 million in about seven months to purchase the land from three Snohomish County banks. To raise this much money in such a short amount of time in such a lousy economy is phenomenal. Credit goes to everyone from Land Trust Executive Director Pat Powell to kids who washed dogs to raise money for the cause. Literally hundreds of islanders gave their time and money, with donations ranging from $5 to $300,000.

The effort had its critics from people concerned that the open space will be taken off the tax rolls and become a financial hardship when turned over to the county after a conservation easement and management plan are drawn up.

In the long term, the huge hunk of open space will be a tremendous plus for the island, attracting visitors to ride and walk along the trails and new residents to build near the natural setting so they can enjoy a lifestyle where the deer and the coyotes still roam.

The transition from private to public ownership is critical, and in this we can trust the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to do its usual thorough job. The fundraising goal included money for planning and initial upkeep of the property. A number of volunteer groups, from equestrians and bicyclists to bird watchers and hikers, will be enlisted to help maintain the property as natural, open space available to the public. The cost to the county should be minimal.

It may not be immediately evident, but in a few years people will realize what a tremendous contribution the Whidbey Camano Land Trust has made to preserving the Whidbey Island we all love. In 100 years, people will marvel at the foresight of those islanders who lived back in the 21st Century.

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