San Juan County residents have a million reasons to celebrate this year's World Wetlands Day, February 2, 2017. The county Land Bank has been awarded a $1 million federal grant for acquisition of Zylstra Lake. Acquiring this land on San Juan Island will conserve over 541 acres. The project, which includes two lakes, approximately one mile of riparian stream and estuary shoreline, and almost three miles of Puget Sound shoreline, is located in the 11,464-acre False Bay watershed.
The project will protect a network of lakes, wetlands and riparian areas. It will improve the ecosystem by reconnecting this network with the Salish Sea. In addition, this land purchase will protect water rights needed for future stream restoration projects. The grant was obtained through the state's Department of Ecology.
This year, Ecology was awarded $4,713,613 in National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants through the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. Only states can apply for the grants, so Ecology partners with land trusts, local governments, tribes and other groups to restore and protect wetlands across Washington state. These federal grant dollars will conserve 2,582 acres of our wetlands. Ecology says this is the biggest annual batch yet.