By Denise Briggs Potter
According to the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, 13 percent of the 17,778-acre island is protected open space. This means it has been purchased by or donated to BILT or is protected by a conservation easement.
Jane Stone, BILT executive director, said the land trust takes its cues from the community. “People move here deliberately, and that is a function of Bainbridge’s natural beauty, trails and parks,” she said. “They don’t take the decision to add a ferry commute from Seattle lightly.”
BILT began in 1989, when a neighborhood community had concerns after 23 acres at Highway 305 and Day Road were sold to become a golf driving range. Citizens, an attorney and a few architects looked for tools to preserve the land, finding a way for a conservation buyer to acquire it.
Thus far BILT has preserved 1,345 acres of vulnerable land, including 1,000 acres that are open to the public. One BILT objective is to find ways to add open space contiguous to land that has already been preserved. “You get the added habitat benefit, and more connected trails, such as in Gazzam and the Grand Forest,” Stone said.
“We’re all feeling the pressure of increasing population in the Puget Sound region and we need places for people to live,” Stone said. “Our vision is to do as much as we realistically can and work creatively to keep pace with the development and maintain balance.”