From the San Juan County Land Bank
The San Juan County Land Bank has been awarded $40,000 in grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue its program of Garry oak habitat restoration on Turtleback Mountain Preserve on Orcas Island. The project will be conducted in partnership with the San Juan Preservation Trust. Other major partners include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Center for Natural Lands Management, and the American Bird Conservancy.
Garry oak savannahs and native grasslands are some of the rarest habitats in Washington state. Some of the best remaining examples are here in the San Juans. Garry oak savannahs and grasslands are home to a high diversity of native plants, birds, butterflies, and other animals. Wildfire and intentional burning by Coast Salish people historically maintained these open habitats in the San Juan Islands, but in recent decades, due to absence of fire, Douglas-firs have taken over. Garry oaks can’t survive when shaded out by other trees, and the habitat and its many dependant species are eventually lost. In addition, severe browsing from deer prevents young oaks from getting established on Turtleback.
The grant funds will be used to cut and girdle small Douglas-fir trees in prime oak areas, plant new oaks and cage them from deer, and replant native grasses. Bird and butterfly surveys and monitoring will also be conducted. Public educational tours will provide guided walks of this special habitat and restoration activities.
Contact the Land Bank at 378-4402 for more information about the project.
The San Juan County Land Bank is a local land conservation program, created by voters in 1990, and funded by a 1% real estate excise tax paid by purchasers of property in San Juan County. Through conservation easements or outright purchases, the Land Bank protects special places in the Islands including coastlines, farmland, forests and wetlands. For more information, contact the Land Bank at 378-4402 or visit http://www.sjclandbank.org.