This summer a call went out to the people of Port Townsend to save the trees along the State Route 20 “gateway” into town. The forest was soon to be clear cut, and $70,000 was needed to purchase the land and stop the logging.
Responses came from far and wide, with donations from a few to several thousand dollars, and the green corridor was saved.
At first it appeared Jefferson County would purchase the 3.23 acres near Mill Road. Tim Caldwell, director of the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce, helped write a grant to Jefferson County’s Conservation Futures Fund for the purchase. However, the fund committee did not recommend the grant.
“That failure brought the issue to the attention of the community,” said Caldwell. Individuals, businesses and community organizations rallied. Funds came from various sources, but by early this June, $16,000 was still needed.
Word went out for more help. Local Realtor Barbara Bogart got on the phone and visited other Realtors, asking for donations. “Nearly everyone I called responded with a contribution,” she said.
Ann and Dick Schneider, through the Schneider Family Foundation, donated $4,000 in matching funds to encourage more contributions. One faith community donated one month of tithes. A 16-year-old gave $100 of his own money. A “Port Townsend girl” now living in New York sent a donation. In all, more than 120 donors came forth and filled in the missing $16,000 by the end of June.
Jefferson Land Trust handled the donations receipts. “Whole days were taken up here with people calling and coming in with donations and expressing concern about the gateway,” said Stephanie Reith, Land Trust executive director. “People shared their connection with those trees and what they represent for their vision of this beautiful town.”
“People shared their connection with those trees and what they represent for their vision of this beautiful town.”
Kevin Widell and Shannon Kane purchased a half acre of the property for $20,000 to use for Widell’s business, A+ Equipment Rentals. “We want to incorporate our business needs with preservation of the old-growth firs and maintenance of the greenbelt,” said Widell. “As we develop this property, people will see that there is a way to accommodate business growth and save the trees at the same time.”
The county commissioners decided to allocate $26,875 from the Conservation Futures Fund for the purchase. Because some thinning is needed to maintain the health of the trees, Jerry Harpole will donate his time and horses to do the work.
An estimated $7,500 raised from the timber sales will be used toward the land purchase. Walter Briggs has donated his time and expertise to prepare a forestry plan.
As owner of the property, the county has a signed agreement with the city and Jefferson Land Trust to protect the land forever as a view buffer.
“This was a community effort and a community success,” said Mark Dembro, chairman of the Land Trust board.