Clearing path at Price Sculpture Forest park in Coupeville Whidbey Island

RECENT HISTORY

The Price Sculpture Forest was created from a convergence of many events, interests, and partnerships over years of planning, effort, and implementation.

The park’s main 15.1 acre parcel was purchased in 2008 by the Price family with the original intent of building their home on the property while preserving as much of the forest and habitat as possible. The Prices ended up building their home elsewhere in Coupeville and then worked to figure out what was best for the property. They investigated selling it, though could not find a conservation buyer who would preserve the majority of it. The “market solution” was to cut down most of the forest for open views of Penn Cove and Mount Baker, and then to subdivide it. They could not do that in good conscience.

They reached out to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, who came up with creative solutions and partnered with the US Navy to help preserve the property into the future. The property now has a permanent Conservation Easement on it that has removed all residential development rights from the property. This unique Conservation Easement was designed so that this property can either be left as raw forest habitat or be preserved and opened to everyone as a community park with only specified infrastructure that supports the park’s original vision.

The Prices also purchased two smaller adjacent parcels totaling 1.2 acres. These were added to the park for additional buffer and preserving more wildlife habitat.

Since then, they have steadily worked on the Sculpture Forest’s design and implementation, plus partnered with local community organizations, arts organizations, and sculptors to bring the park to life.

The Sculpture Forest’s story is being written now. Contact the park and come collaborate in its creation.

PRIOR HISTORY

Coast Salish Native American groups, especially the Skagit tribe, are believed to have visited and populated parts of Penn Cove for many centuries. Middens and historical accounts point to settlements at Long Point, located nearby to the northeast. The park even encircles a Native American cemetery, though it is unknown if any human remains are there.

Historical research about the Sculpture Forest’s land indicates there has never been modern housing or farming on it. A basic logger’s cabin may have existed on one eastern corner of the property around 1920. This clue, plus the size of the trees, indicates that the property was likely logged around then and the current forest is century old regrowth. A few remnant old growth trees from before then still exist on the property.  Those large trees were likely not initially logged since they may have been considered relative “runts” at the time.  A mystery of the property is that only a few old growth stumps remain.  This is unusual since it was never cleared for farming and loggers would not have had any incentive to laboriously remove stumps.  Some of the remaining old growth stumps still show the springboard notches where lumberjacks stood on planks to cut down mammoth trees.

Since then, the property has remained continuously forested. Prior owners put in motion plans to subdivide and develop the property. There was even a proposed public road, “Olympic Avenue”, that would have gone through the middle of the land to directly connect Parker Road to the waterfront. Fortunately, none of these plans were implemented, and the habitat has been preserved. Prior owners professionally thinned the southern 2/3 of the forest in the 1980s. This has helped the long‐term forest health plus enabled the current verdant native understory to flourish throughout the park.