As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
This proposal in Skagit County is for acquisition of privately-owned waterfront properties on Cypress Island, which are threatened with conversion to incompatible and/or ecologically irreversible uses. Cypress Island Natural Area Preserve/Natural Resource Conservation Area (NAP/NRCA) is a unique natural area due to its large size, ecological diversity and level of existing protection. Cypress Island has no infrastructure or ferry service, and limited development, all which help increase protection. Nearly 91% of the island is owned and managed by DNR under NAP or NRCA designation. Securing additional funding is necessary in order to actively pursue acquisition of selected remaining lands. The threat of conversion is high due to rising property values in the San Juan Islands and the attractiveness of Cypress Island for vacation homes and resort facilities.