To the editor:
Many Bainbridge Islanders have enjoyed spending time at Bloedel Reserve, strolling the lovely grounds or attending a concert in the stunning historic residence. I think we’d all agree that Bloedel Reserve is a greatly appreciated treasure. Our family certainly loves it there; we’ve been members of the reserve for many years.
Less obvious to the public is the West Sound Wildlife Shelter, which has been located on property it has leased from the Bloedel Reserve for almost 15 years. That place, too, is an Island treasure, and like Bloedel Reserve, should be greatly appreciated.
Each year, the shelter cares for more than a thousand sick and injured wild animals in its large facility, and, because of the generosity of our community, it recently added a beautiful waterfowl enclosure and a huge flight cage (which gives the shelter a place to rehabilitate large birds such as owls and bald eagles). In the past four years alone, our community has helped the shelter invest almost $600,000 for improvements to their facilities.
Bloedel Reserve recently announced its 25-year master plan, which outlines expansion of the reserve but surprisingly does not include any space for the wildlife shelter.
The reserve has given the West Sound Wildlife Shelter a few years to find a new location and move away (possibly off-island due to real estate prices); however, I believe it would make much more sense for the whole community if Bloedel included the wildlife shelter in any plans it makes for the future.
In its master plan statement, Bloedel uses the “increase in attendance” at the reserve as the first reason for its expansion. Growth in the human population in our area is certainly a contributing factor to Bloedel’s desire for expansion, but an increase in the human population brings with it a greater burden on the wildlife population. This unfortunate reality highlights our ever-increasing need for the wildlife shelter.
The answer is not for one Island treasure to force another Island treasure off its land. The answer is for Bloedel Reserve to celebrate the important, nurturing service performed by the shelter and enthusiastically work to blend the two together for the benefit of our entire community, both human and animal.