Departures are a time to take stock and reflect on what you are leaving behind. One of the most inspiring things about being the Superintendent of San Juan Island National Historical Park has been seeing how much a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish. I have seen this both with the park staff and also in the island community. Reflecting on the past 3.5 years here are some highlights.
Island Marble Butterfly Conservation
The island marble butterfly population, in serious decline, demands focused intervention if it is to survive. We engaged butterfly experts from across the region and came up with a plan to save the species-fencing host plants to prevent deer browse, creating new habitat for butterflies to feed and lay eggs, and beginning a captive rearing program to bolster the population. Seeing captive butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and take wing on the prairie was a moving and hopeful experience.
Lee Taylor removes golden paintbrush seedlings from a tube during a group planting in 2012.
Planning for Westcott Bay and Mitchell Hill
The addition of almost 400 acres to the park prompted a planning process with extensive input from the island community. The plan determined how the new lands should be managed and used-with a focus on multiuse trails, low-impact recreation, and preserving the peaceful character of Westcott Bay. The lively input from trail users, park neighbors, and others resulted in a well-thought out plan with support from the island community.
Cattle Point Road Relocation
The Cattle Point Road relocation culminates more than 10 years of planning and preparation by the park, county, State Department of Natural Resources, and the Federal Highways Administration. It was a complex project with many conflicting interests and needs, and the partners worked together well to provide a road that is designed for the park setting, safe and sustainable.
Lee Taylor and park historian, Mike Vouri, enjoy a moment with Henry Martyn Robert II, the grandson of Henry Martyn Robert, builder of the American Camp redoubt and author of Robert's Rules of Order. National Park photo
Community and Youth Engagement
The park's robust array of visitor services-living history events, visitor centers, special programs- serves visitors from near and far. In addition, the park has made great strides forward in providing young people with opportunities to learn about the park's natural resources, to engage in volunteer and paid employment in the park, and to develop leadership skills. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing members of youth corps clearing trails, installing signs, collecting seeds, etc.--laughing and learning in the out-of-doors.
These are just a few of the accomplishments I can point to for the park staff over the last few years. They are such a talented and hard working group! It has been an honor to work with them and with others in the community who are deeply committed to this beautiful and precious place.