Opinion

Editorial: Save island, donate land

One of the best ways to save Whidbey Island for future generations is to donate some land.

Dr. George Fairfax recently did just that, giving title to 50 acres off Zylstra Road to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. It was a generous act motivated entirely by his love of the land and concern for its future. Now, fears of development are laid to rest. Future generations can walk the Del Fairfax Reserve, enjoying peace and quiet and natural vegetation ranging from stately Douglas firs to humble but beautiful huckleberry and Oregon grape. The land will never fall victim to housing developers.

There are other ways to acquire and donate land to posterity. Another recent example occurred when the U.S. Congress appropriated $500,000 to secure 35 acres surrounding Ebey’s Reserve’s historic Ferry House for preservation. Our local politicians, including Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, among others, did an outstanding job in helping this effort spearheaded by the Reserve’s Trust Board and the Nature Conservancy. It’s one less piece of property to worry about in the heart of Whidbey Island.

In similar land actions, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust sold a conifer seed farm near Coupeville, but not before assuring it will always be used for agricultural purposes, and on South Whidbey Island, the late Al Hammons donated a beautifully rural 10-acre piece of property to the Land Trust.

Permanently setting aside land in parks and reserves is the only way to assure that valuable open space will continue into the future. The county and Whidbey Island’s cities spent a lot of time and money on zoning and planning, but ultimately it’s only temporary. As the population soars farmland becomes development land, and to date no one has found an effective way to stop it short of acquiring those lands for permanent protection.

Dr. Fairfax and others before him have set an excellent example for those who have led successful lives and want to give something back that will be appreciated for all time. After all, you can’t take it with you, but you can make sure it’s protected when you’re gone.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust has existed for 21 years over which time it has protected 4,761 acres of land. Their Web site has plenty of information on how to get involved in saving Island County, or give them a call at 360-222-3310.

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