Meadow and forest forever: Hilltop preserved
An anonymous donation of $50,000 has left the Bainbridge Island Land Trust with enough money to complete its purchase of the 36-acre Hilltop property, officials with the nonprofit announced this week.
Members of the land trust and its partner in the project, the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District, were jubilant.
“It’s just a deep satisfaction to know that we’ve completed this and that this land can not only be enjoyed today, but by islanders in hundreds of years,” said Carol Sperling, a board member for the land trust.
David Harrison, vice president of the land trust board, said the property was a key acquisition that will now permanently protect a swath of the island that stretches from Battle Point Park to Murden Cove.
“It connects the East and West Grand Forest and creates an island spot that’s been treasured for a long time, that now the public can use,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say that both the land trust and the parks district are ecstatic,” Harrison said.
With the 36 acres added — which includes a 5-acre upland meadow that is one of the highest spots on the island and boasts impressive views of the Olympics — approximately 540 contiguous acres across the central core of Bainbridge Island will be preserved forever.
A park district trail that connects both pieces of the Grand Forest opened last year as fundraising efforts continued to secure the money needed to finalize the Hilltop purchase.
“This is really the culmination of a lot of effort by a lot of different people over time,” said Parks Commissioner Lee Cross.
She recalled the words of a former director of the land trust: “’You have to drink a thousand cups of tea with property owners in order to make things happen.’
“This is such a huge benefit to the island, Cross added. “It’s just fantastic, especially when you consider how much has been lost, bit by bit, of forested land on the island.”
More than 700 individuals, families, foundations, organizations and agencies participated in the capital campaign for Hilltop, which also received financial support from the Bainbridge parks district, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Fund at The Seattle Foundation.