GREAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE! At the San Juan County Land Bank meeting on Lopez on April 15, Lincoln Bormann, Director, discussed the progress that SJC Land Bank is making in discussions with the WA Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase Lopez Hill and Odlin South. The county currently has a 50 year lease for both Lopez Hill (400 acres leased in 2008) and Odlin South (about 100 acres leased in 2010). Friends of Lopez Hill and other residents and interested groups, especially the Lopez Community Trails Network (LCTN) have been lobbying the Land Bank to get them to put the purchase of these two properties at the top of their priority list. These properties are not permanently protected unless the county has ownership.
Late last year, the Land Bank asked LCTN to conduct a survey to see how many people on Lopez were interested in pursuing this. LCTN conducted an email campaign and survey, and demonstrated that 632 people supported the purchase. Jamie Stephens, San Juan County Councilman, also came out in strong support of the purchase on behalf of the SJCO Council. At today’s meeting, Lincoln and several of the Land Bank Commissioners expressed their strong support for the purchase of the two properties and their commitment to making it happen.
The Land Bank has initiated discussions with DNR and is preparing to make an offer to the DNR based on recent review and assessment by the Land Bank. The next step is for the DNR to make their own assessment of the properties, and then they will come back to the county with the purchase price. Lincoln said he hoped we could reach that stage by September of this year. At that point, we will know what the purchase price is and can work on determining the funding sources. This convoluted process has been a stumbling block to any serious fund raising because it’s difficult to ask for funding when you don’t know how much you need! It is really heartwarming to see this progress and the great support from the community to purchase these two large, undeveloped properties on Lopez. Stay tuned for updates!