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Action by citizen group leads to permanent protection for 33-acres on San Juan Island

Permanent conservation of a strategically located 33-acre property directly adjacent to the Town of Friday Harbor’s protected Trout Lake watershed (the source of the town’s drinking water) has been ensured through the dedication of a private group and by recent action of San Juan Preservation Trust and the San Juan County Land Bank.

Fawn lilies were in bloom in May Ihiya Biological Preserve photo

Rosa Blair and a group of neighbors formed a non-profit to create Ihiya Biological Preserve in 2018. The goal of the private citizens was to protect an essential wetland so that it would exist unimpaired for wildlife and for human appreciation, connection to nature, environmental education, and wild herbal medicine. According to their website, the group was "guided by principles of social permaculture and indigenous ways of knowing, Ihiya is at the forefront of a new approach to sustainability."

In 2021, the Preservation Trust partnered with the Land Bank to carry out the group's  intention that this special place would “serve as a catalyst for positive change—a place to connect, contemplate, breathe, meditate, and heal,” and also provide a permanent sanctuary for the diverse plant and wildlife communities that thrive there. 

The trust said, "We are grateful to the original Ihiya Biological Reserve group, led by Rose Blair, whose foresight, passion, and investment of time and treasure have resulted in such a positive conservation outcome for this property."

The purchase adds a crucial link in protecting the purity of surface water that flows into False Bay. A year-round branch of False Bay Creek drains from Trout Lake, meanders through the Ihiya Preserve, then crosses the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank’s nearby King Sisters Preserve, flows into Zylstra Lake, and eventually enters the Salish Sea at the University of Washington’s False Bay Marine Preserve. 

The general management goals for this property include:

Maintaining a trail system for neighborhood and public enjoyment of the preserve;

Promoting healthy and diverse wildlife habitat and protection of freshwater resources;

Promoting and encouraging use of the preserve for nature-based learning by local school groups and indigenous groups;

Use of the preserve as a location for community science projects and other place-based learning.

Ihiya Biological Preserve is open to the public for daytime use. Click here for visitor maps and guidelines.

Visitors are welcome during daylight hours.

Please observe these guidelines:

• Dogs must have their owners on a leash at all times. Owners, pick up after your pooch.

• No fires or overnight camping.

• Hike on established trails. Observe any temporary closure/rerouting signs as we work to improve the trail system.

• No firearms or hunting.

• Do not harvest or gather plants, insects, animals, or other natural objects without written permission from SJPT (360-378-2461).

• Leave no trace. Or, better yet, leave the preserve better than you found it by collecting and removing others’ trash.


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