Hilltop Home Page Hilltop sits between the east and west segments of the Grand Forest. Acquisition of the Hilltop property will connect these treasured parklands, and create nearly 540 contiguous acres of permanently protected natural landscape for the benefit of people, wildlife, and water resources.
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A version of this letter appeared on Inside Bainbridge, and in The Islander

As a young family that spends much of our spare time wandering the forest trails and exploring the beaches of the Island, many of our adventures would never have been possible without the hard work of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, its donors, and land partners. For that, our family is forever grateful. It is our hope to somehow repay this generosity and maybe -- through this simple letter -- convey a small piece of our appreciation by reminding our neighbors of the magnificence of this little rock in Puget Sound and the dedication of some wonderful people. Not yet in grammar school, our children already have forests, bogs, shorelines, tide pools, and mountain vistas imprinted upon them, as a part of them -- something very different from the childhood memories of their mid-western parents. That is incredibly gratifying to us, to know that what took more than 30 years for us to experience is their birthright as Islanders. And, it's equally reassuring to know that access to and protection of these special Island places shows no sign of stopping thanks to the Land Trust.  Case in point is the recent Hilltop project, connecting East and West Grand Forest and creating 540 acres of contiguously protected land. Really think about that for a minute -- we have a 4 1/2 mile cross-Island trail corridor! It's now possible for wildlife and people to traverse nearly the entire width of the Island on lands and trails protected by the Land Trust. In those few miles, the ecological diversity --  forests, creeks, wetlands, meadows, etc. -- is more than many Americans experience in a lifetime. What's more is that upon arriving at the 5-acre upland meadow in the center of the Hilltop property, the pastoral tranquility and views of the Olympics are unmatched. And the kicker? Those lands are protected until the end of time. So, to the Land Trust, again, thank you. No matter where life may take us, Bainbridge Island and its protected areas will forever be part of us. And while we're here, we'll do our best to give what we can, be it time and money or effort and sweat to continuing what the Bainbridge Island Land Trust started 25 years ago.  
Matt and Sara Otepka


The Bainbridge Island Land Trust has successfully completed the fund raising campaign to fully fund the 36-acre Hilltop land acquisition project that connects the East and West Grand Forest and ensures the protection of over 540 contiguous acres across the Island's central core, forever.  "When the Land Trust Board agreed to purchase Hilltop, we were in uncharted territory," states Hilltop campaign co-chair Val Tollefson.  "Never before had BILT committed to a capital project of this magnitude, but we had no doubt that the many generous and forward thinking Land Trust supporters would prove that we made the right decision.  And they did."

The nearly 5-acre upland meadow provides tranquil pastoral scenes as well as stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.  Wetlands and cathedral groves of mature cedar, fir, and big leaf maple populate the lowland trail, along with other native plants and wildlife that thrive in this vital habitat.  One of the highest points on Bainbridge Island, Hilltop is the source of two key watersheds, and now, is permanently protected. Carol Sperling, Hilltop campaign co-chair says, "The Land Trust is particularly grateful for the remarkably generous people of Bainbridge Island, who have been committed to helping preserve Hilltop for the benefit of our community, forever.  Just as we can enjoy the natural beauty of Hilltop today, future Islanders will still be able to enjoy this same beauty 200 years from now - a true legacy."

In close cooperation with Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District, to which ownership of the property is being transferred,multiple public use opportunities have been developed on this property, including an east - west Island trail connecting the Grand Forest, a renovated community meeting space called "Prue's House", as well as habitat restoration and invasive weed removal.   "Hikers, bikers, runners, striders, artists, kids and nature lovers - Hilltop has something for everyone," said Asha Rehnberg, former executive director who led the Land Trust during the planning and implementation of the Hilltop project.  "We are all very proud that the Land Trust and its supporters stepped up together to secure this wonderful property."

The Land Trust is grateful to the overwhelming support of over 700 individuals, families, foundations, organizations and agencies that have participated in the Hilltop campaign including the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District and the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Fund at The Seattle Foundation.

 "Members of the Land Trust Board recognize there is a leap of faith required when undertaking large acquisition projects, and Hilltop has been our most ambitious project to date. We on the Board feel extremely grateful that many individuals and organizations recognized the value of this addition to the public on Bainbridge Island and generously gifted their financial support," said Tom Goodlin, President of the Board. "Hilltop not only formed the connection between beloved island parks, but on its own adds tremendous natural beauty to the public land holdings that will be preserved in perpetuity for Islanders and wildlife to enjoy."

Islanders can visit Hilltop by parking at any of the Grand Forest entrances - Download a Trail Map! or contact the office if you would like a guided tour!

Read news regarding the new Hilltop Trail and 5 Additional Acres.

Click here to view a short video clip about the project.

For more information about the Hilltop project  please contact BILT at (206) 842-1216 or email laura@bi-landtrust.org.

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