'We still have a ways to go'

  • Colette Kostelec

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

The Jefferson Land Trust, based in Port Townsend, Wash., is a 10-year-old land trust on the Olympic Peninsula with 1,140 acres in conservation easements. In 1996, the trust also acquired the 130-acre Janis Bulis Forest Preserve, donated by Bulis' widow, Erika Bulis, who continues to live on the land.

In order to raise money for preserve management, the trust hired horse loggers to selectively cut timber on 27 acres of the preserve. At Erika Bulis' request, the group also jumped through several legal hoops to establish a one-acre pet cemetery on the land. "With each project, we're nearly reinventing the wheel," says staffer Vickie LeHuray. "Within our own limits, we try to cater to each landowner's needs."

Colette Kostelec, Jefferson Land Trust board member: "We deal with eastern Jefferson County, not really all of the Olympic Peninsula. The wildlife stretches across the peninsula, and some people would like us to take on more. But here the development pressures are the greatest. We've made the transition to a less resource-based economy, and we're feeling the growth.

"We still have a ways to go. We tell people we're protecting the land, and they ask, "how do I know you're going to be around to do that?"

"Some people here definitely see easements as pushing out the cattle business. One prominent cattle grower named Regan Shorts is a property-rights advocate, and he bristles at the thought of any regulations.

"But we do have some advantage with people like that, because we can work voluntarily with those who don't want (regulations) forced on them. The government entities don't understand the Regan Shorts of the world."