Preservation movement needs all-island support | Our Opinion | March 4

One of the things about living on an island/city that takes some adjustment is the fact that the land available will never increase. It can change ownership dozens of times, and it has, but being surrounded by water means there will be no annexation of adjoining property.

Since most people think living on an island is wonderful, a large majority of the nearly 18,000 acres are privately owned, including most of the 53 miles of coastline. So if you want a piece of the rock,  the ante is ever increasing – except during recessions, when there will be a temporary lull.

However, there are islanders who saw the coming of the land rush and, by forming what is known as the Bainbridge Island Land Trust (BILT), appeal to the benevolent nature of landowners to allow at least some public access through their property by agreeing to conservation easements. Some even sell entire parcels to the nonprofit organization.

This form of philanthropy by our neighbors harkens back to the days when islanders had more of a community spirit when it came to sharing, a wonderful attribute that has irrefutably diminished as more and more property lines have been drawn. It’s a shame, but blame it on greed and population growth.

It’s hard work, but islanders who strive to keep Bainbridge rural and accessible through a series of public parks and trails continue to succeed because turning back the clock, at least to some degree, is alluring to people who want its rural character to survive despite the constant pressure to pave paradise.

People like Steve Romein and Ty Cramer believe the island’s quality of life depends to some degree on preserving its agricultural and rural heritage, whether it’s bestowed by providing farmland to grow food for local consumption or isolated pockets of land for healthy animal habitat.

Fortunately for those of us living here, what BILT and their benefactors have is a plan, a template for carefully ensuring that this finite allotment of rock and loam is treasured.

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