Island County and The Nature Conservancy have teamed up to preserve 52 acres at Barnum Point, on the eastern shore of Camano Island, to ensure public access to a natural shoreline and a healthier Puget Sound.
Island County is acquiring 26 acres outright and a conservation easement on another 26 acres from the Conservancy, which purchased the land in August from the family that has owned and cared for the property for generations.
“This is a great opportunity to preserve this vital shoreline and the intertidal processes that sustain Port Susan Bay and Puget Sound,” said Helen Price Johnson, chair of the Island County Commissioners. “We’re grateful for the state grant programs and the work of The Nature Conservancy to assist us in preserving public access to this wonderful place for future generations.”
“This has been a great team effort to ensure that Camano Island residents will be able to enjoy this beautiful shoreline far into the future, while it continues to play an important natural role in Puget Sound,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for the Conservancy.
Island County will manage the land as a natural recreation area, with trails and shoreline access, while conserving natural habitat. This contributes to goals outlined in the County’s parks plan. Preserving Barnum Point from residential development also helps to ensure good habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon and other marine life in Port Susan Bay, where the Conservancy and Whidbey-Camano Land Trust have protected more than 7,000 acres of tidelands since 2001.
Port Susan Bay plays a big role in the overall health of Puget Sound as one of the largest remaining relatively undeveloped bays. It is also a critical nursery for marine life. Sandwiched between two of Puget Sound’s largest rivers, the Skagit and the Stillaguamish, it supports juvenile salmon, shorebirds and waterfowl, and family farms. Even gray whales find their way into the bay to feed on tiny invertebrates in the mud.
The Conservancy has recently completed two estuary restoration projects in the bay—one at the Port Susan Bay Preserve on the eastern shore of the bay, and one at Livingston Bay, on the northern shore.
Funding for the project came from state and federal grants and private donations. The state Recreation and Conservation Office administers several grant programs that supported this project. The Nature Conservancy received a $1 million grant through RCO’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, which is dedicated to improving nearshore habitat It included $64,300 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which amounted to 3 percent of the total cost of the project. Island County received a $1 million grant from RCO through its Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA). ALEA is funded by revenue the state generates from tideland leases and is targeted at re-establishing the natural, self-sustaining ecological functions of the waterfront and providing public access to the water. In addition, the Conservancy is giving Island County a grant of $50,000 from private donations as seed funding for management of the property.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Washington