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Whidbey Island forest rescue coming down to the wire

An effort to save a big tract of forested land on the island is almost at the fund-raising goal. But the deadline is Friday.

In an historic effort, backers of an effort to save a critical part of Whidbey Island's environment are nearing their goal of raising $4.2 million. But they only have a couple of days to raise the rest of the money to preserve the Trillium woods, the largest single remaining tract of forest on an island where battles to protect open space have flared up repeatedly over recent decades.

Elizabeth Guss of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust said the group was still calculating its weekend donations on Tuesday afternoon but they had gotten well within a half-million dollars of the goal. "We have seen such incredible and beautiful community support, really from the beginning," Guss said.

The trust's deadline for donations is Friday (Sept. 10), with closing on the purchase planned to occur later in the month. The fund-raising effort began in mid-March, after the trust reached an agreement with a group of banks giving the group a chance to try to come up with the money to purchase the land and put it under permanent protection. Otherwise, the land will most likely be developed for housing.

If the trust succeeds in buying the property, the 664 acres would offer horseback, walking, bicycling, and bird-watching opportunities, as well preserving critical habitat for wildlife and water quality in three watersheds. Guss said that as this week's deadline has approached, people have been making contributions from increasingly widespread areas, including other states.

The trust has a special web site about the property and how to contribute at www.savetheforestnow.org. Contributions can also be made there.

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.


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