Managers of conservation lands in the county met Thursday and Friday at the Grange, in their sixth annual meeting to compare notes and collaborate. Their breaks were not called coffee breaks or restroom breaks, but “networking breaks.”
Representatives of the National Historical Park, the San Juan Islands National Monument, the State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources, County Parks, the Land Bank, the San Juan Preservation Trust, the Conservation District, and others stretch their resources by working together and making use of volunteers.
These face-to-face meetings help them know the person they’re talking with when they pick up the phone and ask for — or offer — help.
None of the agencies has the resources to accomplish all that they need to with paid employees alone, so there was considerable interest shown in finding and sharing volunteer workers, many of them young adults and teens trained by the Youth Conservation Corps and other groups.
One of the main areas of emphasis for the meeting was a joint effort to assess impacts to natural areas, and to explore potential options for accommodating increasing demand for these special places.
Another major concern is how to provide more camping opportunities in the county. Dona Wuthnow, director of County Parks, with campgrounds on Shaw, Lopez, and San Juan, and provision for campers at the fairgrounds, said when they opened camping reservations for this year “we filled up Memorial Day weekend by early afternoon.”
Lex Fredy, superintendent of the National Park, reported that the group campsite at English Camp is now under construction, and “we are exploring what [additional] kind of camping we might be able to develop.”
Dean Washington, Lummi elder and master canoe builder, encouraged those present to “listen to one another,” and that did seem to be their goal.
The group, which is chaired by Land Bank director Lincoln Bormann, meets annually, and many expressed appreciation of the benefits to their agencies of this regular collaboration.
By Louise Dustrude