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
ISLAND LAND TRUST ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF HILLTOP FUND RAISING CAMPAIGN -THANK
YOU BAINBRIDGE, We have FINISHED THE CLIMB!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.