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Grants help finalize land trust purchase of land along Agate Passage

The Bainbridge Island Land Trust has announced that it has received two grants that will help complete the purchase of 12.5 acres of intact shoreline and upland along Agate Passage.  - Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust
The Bainbridge Island Land Trust has announced that it has received two grants that will help complete the purchase of 12.5 acres of intact shoreline and upland along Agate Passage.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust

The Bainbridge Island Land Trust has been awarded two grants that will help purchase and preserve 12.5 acres of intact shoreline and upland habitat along Agate Passage.

“This exquisite piece of Bainbridge embraces ‘all the parts’ of nature’s design - and now they’re permanently protected for the future, too,” said Brenda Padgham, stewardship director for the land trust.

The property includes 7.43 acres of mature, second-growth forest that rise above high sandbanks, or “feeder bluffs.”

The land also boasts five acres of tidelands that encompass a nearshore zone of woody debris and continuous, healthy eelgrass beds, which officials note are vital to forage fish as well as all five species of Pacific salmon that utilize Bainbridge Island’s shoreline.

The trust announced Friday that two large grant requests had been approved for the acquisition effort: $810,000 from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund (facilitated by the Puget Sound Partnership through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board), and $396,000 through the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Both grant programs focus on funding projects aimed at restoring or protecting nearshore habitats and ecological functions important to a number of aquatic and terrestrial species.

Work on the purchase began last year, after private donations plus public and in-kind feasibility study funding allowed the land trust to buy the parcel in December with $250,000 down toward the $1 million price tag.

Trust officials also said the conservation seller discounted the appraised value, carried the paper, and gave the land trust two years to pay the balance.

Officials said the land sits in a prime position. The west shoreline parcel’s tidelands are continuous with more than 10 acres of protected tidelands owned by the Department of Natural Resources, and the property is adjacent to uplands already under conservation easement held by the land trust.

Greg Geehan, a retired geologist and neighbor of the newly purchased property, has stepped forward to serve as the trust’s on-the-ground steward.

“I’ve always appreciated what the land trust does, so I took the stewardship training to volunteer on this parcel," Geehan said.

"With my background and interest being sedimentology and beach erosion, it’s a great match,” he said.

Geehan provided an overview of the preserve’s geologic features during a recent public walk of the property.

The preserve is not yet open without prior permission. The land trust and partners will focus on identifying how public access will be allowed while still protecting habitat features, plus eventually protecting more nearby acreage.

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