San Juan National Historic Park
San Juan National Park. Photo by Katie and Ian/Flickr.com
At A Glance
“Our parents would be pleased with our decision to sell our family land to The Conservation Fund so that it could become part of English Camp. We and our parents have worked hard to keep this land natural and open and to support a healthy and clean Westcott Bay. We are grateful that the land will continue in its natural state for years to come and that others will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy it as we have.” — The Webb sisters.
Located just a short ferry ride or flight away from mainland Washington, the beautiful San Juan Islands are a favorite destination for kayakers, hikers, whale watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts. San Juan Island National Historical Park, found on San Juan Island, welcomes nearly 275,000 visitors a year and includes the island’s longest stretch of beach as well as forests and historic sites. The Fund has worked with local landowners and the National Park Service (NPS) to expand the park by nearly 355 acres.
Our most recent effort was completed in 2013 when we helped add nearly 35 acres to the park. Formerly owned by the late Bill and Doree Webb, the property was once the site of the Webb Camp-School, a summer camp for boys. Known to many San Juan Island residents as part of the Westcott Bay Sea Farm, this newly added property is located along 2,500 feet of pristine shoreline on Westcott Bay and offers rich upland forest and wetland habitats.
Representatives of the Webb family, local conservation groups and the NPS approached the Fund with the intent of protecting the property and perpetuating Bill and Doree Webb’s vision for the land to remain free from adverse development. Now that the land is part of San Juan NHP, the NPS will enhance educational and recreational offerings at English Camp, one of the historic sites located in the park.
Together with NPS, we worked to design a unique conservation plan that would preserve the land’s natural state, while enabling the family or subsequent owners of the historic sea farm to continue to use a portion of the tidelands for oyster farming operations. “The National Park Service was looking for a way to add valuable land to the park without compromising the ability of the oyster farm to operate; and we’re pleased that we will be able to achieve both goals here,” said San Juan Island National Historical Park superintendent Lee Taylor. “The beautiful property will be a wonderful addition to the national historical park and will provide real benefits to the community.”
Mitchell Hill Property
In 2010, the Fund worked with the State and County to help the Park Service protect the 320-acre Mitchell Hill property along the southern border of English Camp. This conservation effort preserved a trail network of 2.9 miles and a remnant of the 19th century military road linking English Camp to American Camp.
San Juan Island NHP was established in 1966 by Congress to commemorate the peaceful resolution of the San Juan Boundary Dispute, or “Pig War,” between Great Britain and the United States. Military forces from both nations jointly (and peacefully) occupied the island from 1860 to 1872 following a crisis over a slain pig in 1859. The Webb property—along with Roche Harbor proper—was part of the military reserve charted by Captain George E. Pickett of the U.S. Army and Captain George Bazalgette of the British Royal Marines in 1860, following a low-key dispute over lime deposits at Roche Harbor.