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San Juan County Land Bank

The Land Bank Story

San Juan County, 1990: Land development and tourism were on the rise, and the county’s population was rapidly growing. Facing the loss of places they loved, a diverse group of locals sought a way to save treasured lands and maintain quality of life.

Their vision led to the creation of the San Juan County Land Bank. The Land Bank was charged with conserving exceptional places in the islands, guided by local input. A one-time 1% real estate excise tax paid by purchasers of property at closing was created to fund the program. In this way the community could protect those special places that brought them here.

This community investment has paid off in spades. Islanders and visitors alike enjoy the benefits of protected farms, forests, shores, and scenic vistas, and access to a remarkable array of public lands.


The Salish Seeds Project: Bringing Back Island Wildflowers

The Salish Seeds Project is dedicated to restoring native wildflowers and grasses in the San Juan Islands. Plants and seeds of species native to island grasslands, oak savannahs, and rocky meadows are produced at a nursery located at Red Mill Farm in San Juan Valley. The San Juan Preservation Trust owns the property and the Land Bank runs the nursery.

Many of the plants and seeds produced are used on Land Bank preserves, while some are purchased by other organizations for habitat restoration projects and offered to the general public at our annual plant sale.

Video tour of Salish Seeds Project Nursery:


Healthy communities need clean air and water, access to nature and food to eat. Agricultural products that are sourced and sold within the island community contribute to the County’s food security. At its inception, the Land Bank recognized the importance of this and included agriculture as a component of its wide-ranging organizational mandate.

The islands’ culture and history are also tightly linked to agriculture, and pastoral landscapes possess significant scenic value.

The Land Bank has made concerted efforts to protect agricultural land in the County by limiting development on private lands through the purchase of conservation easements, and by the purchase of properties that are then leased to local farmers. To date, the Land Bank has protected 1,600 acres of farmland and leases nearly 400 acres to local farmers.

Take this survey and share your thoughts about farming in the San Juan Islands: https://wsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_40JP6qHcYisdv9P

Contact Tanja Williamson at 360.370.7655 or email tanjaw@sjclandbank.org to sign up for volunteer announcements, as well as receive notification of upcoming plants sales or other nursery events.

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Connect with Nature

Discover San Juan Islands

Your Conservation Land Bank turns 30 this year and is celebrating with a multi-island exploration. Every preserve has a story – gather your family and get outside this summer to discover what your public lands have to say!

The San Juan County Land Bank teamed up with the Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Island libraries to create fun and engaging activities for island families to enjoy this summer. Learn the stories of your public lands while imagining some of your own! Click here to download an activity packet: http://sjclandbank.org/discover-san-juan-islands-2020-activity-packets/

Preserve Maps

Scenic Walks

Zylstra Lake Preserve: https://studio.youtube.com/video/WL2huN3L4Uo/edit/basic

Coho Preserve: coming soon

Land Bank Zoom Backgrounds

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