The ezine This Is Whidbey produced an article about the impressive conservation efforts by the local organization Whidbey Camano Land Trust, including how the Sculpture Forest has partnered with them. Author Kate Poss wrote “Protecting Island County’s Best Places” and first references the Sculpture Forest as an example of a publicly beneficial conservation effort.
The founder of the Sculpture Forest donated a very unique Conservation Easement to the Land Trust that only allows for two high level things to ever occur on the property now and into the future: 1) Remain as undisturbed native forest and/or 2) Be a sculpture park for the community. Forest protection Conservation Easements are fairly standard. However, this Conservation Easement was the first of its kind for the Land Trust to specify via legal documents on title what would fit within the founder’s original vision as a sculpture and nature park open for the community.
Conservation Easements are designed to continue as long as the US legal system continues to exist. Even if the Sculpture Forest were to close, its nonprofit organization end, and the Price family sell the underlying property, any future owner could only either keep it as private forest or open as a community park. All rights to subdivide, clear cut, build homes, and such are permanently removed from both the current owners (by their own choosing) and any future owners if ownership were ever to change hands. Conservation Easements are a restrictive, legal way for property owners to willingly remove development rights and rest assured that their property will remain in a desired state even after the current owners may have passed on.
Although the market resale value of the property plummets (since it cannot be developed for homes, subdivided, etc.), the personal value is huge in knowing that a cherished part of the world will be protected forever.
Thank you for your interesting article, Kate!