Summer Activities at Zylstra Lake

Posted July 1, 2019 at 5:49 am by

Zylstra Lake - Tim Dustrude photo

There’s a lot going on at the Land Bank’s Zyl­stra Lake Pre­serve this sum­mer and beyond. This 285-acre pre­serve was acquired in 2017 with goals of pro­vid­ing pub­lic access to the land and water, sup­port­ing wildlife con­ser­va­tion, and enabling com­pat­i­ble farm­ing activities.

Although not yet open to the pub­lic, the months ahead hold a num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties to vis­it Zyl­stra Lake and get involved with planning.

The pre­serve is sched­uled to be open for year-round, reg­u­lar pub­lic access in May 2020. Until then, islanders can sat­is­fy their curios­i­ty at a num­ber of sum­mer events. Free guid­ed walks of the pre­serve are sched­uled for every Sun­day in July. Group sizes will be small, so any­one inter­est­ed is encour­aged to sign up ear­ly to claim a spot.

On Sun­day, July 21, The San Juan Preser­va­tion Trust is offer­ing a guid­ed “For­est Immer­sion” walk to its mem­bers. And for those who miss the July events, an all-day open house is sched­uled for Sep­tem­ber 7, with Land Bank staff and oth­er experts on hand to answer ques­tions. These events are great oppor­tu­ni­ties to share your ideas for the preserve.

There’s even more hap­pen­ing behind the scenes. Biol­o­gists are cur­rent­ly inven­to­ry­ing birds, fish, wet­lands, and oth­er impor­tant fea­tures. Staff and con­sul­tants are assess­ing farm infra­struc­ture, and devel­op­ing plans for long-deferred dam repairs. These inves­ti­ga­tions will help answer ques­tions crit­i­cal to future man­age­ment, such as:

  • Are there sen­si­tive areas of the pre­serve for breed­ing birds and win­ter­ing waterfowl?
  • What kinds of fish are present, and could con­di­tions be improved to sup­port native trout or salmon?
  • Is the lake safe for swimming?
  • What are some options for man­ag­ing the farm fields?

Answer­ing these and oth­er ques­tions will lay the ground­work for cre­at­ing a pre­serve man­age­ment plan that includes safe, low-impact pub­lic access. As resource assess­ments con­clude this fall, the pub­lic will be invit­ed to hear the results, as well as share their hopes, ideas, and ques­tions about future management.

Pub­lic input will inform the cre­ation of a man­age­ment plan, with many oppor­tu­ni­ties to com­ment along the way. The Land Bank appre­ci­ates everyone’s patience and thought­ful input through­out this process.

To learn more about upcom­ing events, check out the Land Bank’s events cal­en­dar at, call Tan­ja at 360–378-4402, or just stop by the office at 328 Caines Street in Fri­day Harbor.

285-acre Zyl­stra Lake Pre­serve in San Juan Val­ley was acquired by the Land Bank in 2017. The San Juan Preser­va­tion Trust was a key part­ner is facil­i­tat­ing the pur­chase and obtain­ing grant funds. 

Antic­i­pat­ed time­line for Zyl­stra Lake Pre­serve opening:

  • Novem­ber 2019 – Resource assess­ments are com­plet­ed and pre­sent­ed to the public.
    Pub­lic input is solicit­ed on future management.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2020 – A draft man­age­ment plan is writ­ten and pre­sent­ed to the public.
    Pub­lic input is solicit­ed on future management.
  • May 2020 – A final man­age­ment plan is approved.
    The pre­serve is open to the public.

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