An Unbroken Historical Record: Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve
Administrative History
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Chapter Seven:

In the 1980s, the Ebey's Landing trust board gradually developed an independent identity while learning to adapt to National Park Service regulations and ways of doing business. The source of the trust board's authority and the limits of its responsibilities were initially elusive concepts. The reserve ideal challenged the National Park Service to yield some of the control it traditionally wielded over its units, while remaining committed to the reserve's success. Inspired by the possibilities of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve and the enthusiasm of the EBLA trust board, many National Park Service managers became converts to the concept of national reserves. This chapter describes the development of the administrative framework and professional management of the reserve, as well as the tenure of succeeding trust board chairpersons and NPS managers. More detailed discussions of specific programs are in subsequent chapters.

Pre-Trust Board Management

After the EBLA comprehensive plan was finished, Reed Jarvis remained in his position as project manager. The enabling legislation for EBLA required a number of interpretive programs and operational plans to be in place before responsibility could be handed to local control. Jarvis' task now was to implement and complete the development schedule outlined in the comprehensive plan. Because the National Park Service could not install waysides on lands that it did not own, cooperative agreements had to be reached with local governments and small amounts of land needed to be purchased for the installation of waysides. One component of the overall plan was for the National Park Service to acquire scenic easements on critical parcels within the reserve. Island County, for its share, would need to enact zoning ordinances in support of EBLA. Moreover, the governmental partners had to agree on their individual responsibilities and commitments. The comprehensive plan stated that these steps would take roughly three years to complete under full funding. However, since the timetable for such things as scenic easement acquisitions was not predictable--it was dependent upon willing sellers, among other things--the Service established no target date for transfer of authority to the trust board. Transfer would occur when appropriate. [1]

Absorbed in such preparations, and working half-time in Seattle, Reed Jarvis had little time for day-to-day operations within the reserve. [2] In 1982, he hired Kristin Ravetz to be the reserve's on-site representative. Ravetz was a trained historian and had prepared the draft environmental impact statement for the EBLA comprehensive plan. Under NPS personnel policies, Jarvis hired Ravetz as a temporary National Park Service ranger. However, her position was complex. She assisted in creating an interpretive brochure, acquired YCC crews for construction projects, supervised trail and wayside installations, monitored leases and scenic easements, provided interpretive programs and materials, and performed a variety of other duties. In fact, Jarvis intended to groom Ravetz to be executive director of the trust board, and referred to her by that title. [3]

During the first five years of reserve operations, Reed Jarvis worked without a trust board, concentrating on meeting the development schedule outlined in the comprehensive plan. He assisted a team from the NPS Harpers Ferry Center in preparing an interpretive program, negotiated along with Harlan Hobbs for scenic easements and locations for waysides, and orchestrated the effort to establish a trust board as a legal entity. In 1982, he negotiated a three-year cooperative agreement with the State of Washington to provide funding for a YCC crew and an interpreter at the lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park. This enabled the state park to complete maintenance and trail work at the park, which, in turn, provided interpretation of the reserve. [4] Once a statement for management (1983) and the land protection plan (1984) were prepared, Jarvis invited the other governmental partners to select representatives to form a trust board. Although this did not signal a transition to local control of the reserve, it did allay a growing uneasiness among some residents of central Whidbey Island that the NPS had simply assumed control of the reserve. Despite Ravetz's and Jarvis' outwardly open work in the community, the NPS was keeping a low profile. This seemed appropriate to Jarvis while he and Hobbs conducted negotiations for scenic easements, but some citizens were concerned about the lack of local input in reserve affairs. By the spring of 1985, however, the first trust board was in place, with planning professionals assigned from Coupeville and Island County to assist it. [5]

The First Trust Board

Like the Citizens' Advisory Committee, the trust board of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve represented a range of interests and backgrounds. Some members had deep roots in central Whidbey Island. The town of Coupeville and Island County appointed citizen volunteers to fixed terms of four years, whereas the state of Washington and the National Park Service assigned paid professionals for unspecified terms. Despite the limited terms, which were later reduced to three years, members tended to remain on the board. Among them they would donate hundreds of hours of community work per year. The volunteers brought years of experience in community affairs and provided a local perspective. The state and federal appointees brought knowledge of park operations and a network of professional advisors from their respective agencies.

In March 1985, the trust board held its first meeting. Herb Pickard, still active in matters affecting the reserve, joined and was elected chairman. Vicki Brown, a real estate agent, became vice-chair. The other members were dairy farmer Wilbur Bishop, Fort Casey State Park manager Ken Hageman, George Knapp (retired from the Coast Guard), John Ryan (retired from the U. S. Army), and Charline Scoby of the Island County Historical Society. John Wardenaar of Oak Harbor was appointed by Island County as a county member-at-large, but apparently poor health prevented him from participating on a regular basis, and Audubon Society president Nancy Arnold replaced him. Jarvis and Ravetz immediately launched "an eighteen month seminar on how to become a trust board." This included lectures and instruction from NPS professionals, college professors, and a variety of land management and historic preservation experts. Jarvis wanted the board to be well-trained as a planning group before it assumed control of the reserve. [6]

In addition to learning about the reserve, the trust board promptly set several short and long-term goals for itself. As the composition of the board shifted, or as available time and resources fluctuated, some of these goals changed. The trust board agreed that it would begin immediately to write a statement of objectives and draft management guidelines.

The statement of objectives, which the board completed rapidly, noted its mission to protect for their long-term value and productivity the historic, social, and natural resource base within the reserve. Because this implicitly acknowledged a living community, the statement of objectives presented a mission different from that of a more conventional park. Limits would be incorporated into the development of facilities and the promotion of the reserve in order to minimize disruption of social and economic activities. High-volume public use, a yardstick of success in traditional parks, would not be the only criterion for gauging the success of the reserve. [7]

Preparing the management guidelines took more time. It would be difficult to spell out the board's duties and yet remain flexible. Reed Jarvis began preparation of draft guidelines, but in subsequent years, "everybody and nobody wrote them," acknowledged Jarvis' successor, Richard Hoffman. Hoffman, the trust board, and NPS regional office personnel worked on the guidelines intermittently, but could not agree on "tone and tenor." In reality, management plans evolved as the trust board gained practical experience. [8]

The trust board established standing committees on resource protection, interpretation, facilities, community relations, and administration. It held protracted discussions of how the board should approach certain issues. Trails, for example, could bring the reserve public visibility and support. It began the work of advising and assisting the reserve manager both on preservation and maintenance of cultural resources and on land use within the reserve. The board also recognized that, while it had control only over NPS easement lands, it should advise local government and landowners in matters related to preserving the cultural and natural landscape. [9]

In its first year, the trust board made relatively few decisions that directly affected the reserve. Reed Jarvis, the NPS project manager, continued to take the lead in reserve administration. The board did become involved in a few projects that were already in progress when it formed. Some of these took years to resolve, and gave the board experience in political cooperation. The widening of Engle Road was an example of a project that would impact an NPS easement on the Sherman Farm. Jarvis had offered no objections to the construction project as long as the county retained the aesthetic quality of the road. In time, the trust board was able to prevent a net loss of land to the road corridor by requesting that the county pave over portions of the culverts. Such negotiations were enhanced by acquaintances between trust board members and local landowners and officials, as well as familiarity with the landscape. [10] In a less successful exercise of its review authority, the trust board tried to mediate the Barstow gravel pit proposal (see Chapter Nine). In this case, the county commissioners perceived the board as coming in at the eleventh hour of a project in the advanced planning stages. The commission overrode the trust board's objections and eventually approved the project in 1987. Although the county did not excavate the gravel pit, some trust board members learned from this the need to carefully choose their battles. Perhaps it was not worth the loss of political good will to fight for an area in the reserve that was less than crucial in the overall scheme of things. [11]

In general, however, Reed Jarvis and Kris Ravetz handled many of the administrative responsibilities, while the trust board provided advice and planned its future policies. Jarvis was often in Seattle or negotiating with land owners, leaving day to-day contacts with the trust board to Ravetz. Some board members worried that they could become a mere rubber stamp for NPS administrators at Ebey's Landing unless they established their autonomy clearly. [12]

Transfer of Authority Delayed

When the trust board formed in 1985, the National Park Service announced plans to turn over administration of the reserve to it by the beginning of 1986. This announcement proved premature. For the next three years, hopes for the transfer rose and fell. The trust board continued to meet in a planning and advisory capacity, but without ultimate authority in reserve affairs.

The delay in effecting the transfer was due in part to NPS absorption in land acquisitions and other programs. But real concerns about trust board management also postponed the move. The Island County Board of Commissioners was reluctant to accept responsibility. Although the act establishing EBLA authorized the secretary of the interior to transfer administrative authority, the recipient could only be the state or a "unit of local government." No consideration was given to the state parks commission taking over administration, since that would have removed control from the EBLA trust board. The county commissioners were afraid that if the county accepted administrative responsibility for the reserve, it would be saddled with an expense for which it did not have an adequate revenue source.

Although the county was the only "unit of local government" that could accept the administration of the reserve, the trust board did not view such a transfer with favor. Under such an agreement the trust board would have been under the direction of the county commissioners and it was their desire to maintain a large degree of independence.

Some consideration was given to establishing the trust board under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Public Law 92-463); however, committees established under this act were limited to advisory responsibility. Moreover, management responsibilities could not have been transferred to the trust board, as it would not have qualified as a unit of local government.

The deadlock was broken when Island County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Jamieson suggested that the trust board could be established as a unit of local government under the Washington Interlocal Cooperation Act (RCW 39.34). The Washington statute authorized municipal governments to create joint boards for the administration of services or functions common to two or more governmental units. Dick Neeley of the regional solicitor's office for the interior department agreed that, if the trust board was established pursuant to the Washington Interlocal Cooperation Act, it could be considered a unit of local government, capable of accepting the transfer of administrative authority from the secretary of the interior. With an interlocal agreement, the governmental partners could enter into cooperative agreements for various services and obligations within the reserve. For example, the county sheriff could assume responsibility for patrols; the state highway department could clean and maintain the roads. [13]

But other county officials hesitated. [14] While all of EBLA's government partners had pledged their support, none of the three local jurisdictions--state, county, or town- had committed to a specific level of funding. A permanent local source of funding had not been established by either the EBLA legislation or comprehensive plan, although both documents pointed to Island County. Unfortunately, the county expected a budgetary shortfall as high as $800,000 for Fiscal Year 1986. In the spring of 1985 it cut its budget fifteen percent. In October 1985, the Island County commissioners informed Reed Jarvis that the county would be unable to provide funds or in-kind service to EBLA in 1986. Realistic about the county's temporary difficulties, Reed Jarvis asked the NPS to delay the transfer of EBLA to the trust board. "Let's face it," said Jarvis, "they don't have the money." Concerns about the county's ability to support the reserve lingered for the next few years. [15]

Jarvis had his own concerns about relinquishing control to the trust board. He felt that the objectives of the comprehensive plan had not adequately been met. [16] If these requirements were not fulfilled before EBLA became truly citizen-controlled, Jarvis cautioned, the board would be poorly equipped to compete with conventional national parks for NPS funding and assistance. The National Park Service would have to supply 100 percent of EBLA's funds until an interlocal agreement could be signed, but, feeling "protective" about the reserve, he insisted that the Park Service should not abandon a "half-built" ship. "I wanted cabins outfitted properly, all the flags and all the paint on it and to say 'here's your ship--it's been tried, it did its sea trials and it works."" [17]

Trust board chairman Herb Pickard quietly disagreed. "I think we're qualified to protect ourselves," he said. From his perspective, the board established confidence in the community that the NPS would not have a dominant management role within the reserve, and this was not to be compromised. The community must perceive the board as flexible and independent. The partners should agree on the board's managerial responsibilities and establish its authority. "If we're going to end up just an advisory board, I'm going to be very disenchanted," Pickard told NPS regional solicitor Neeley. [18] Yet Pickard also understood that the reserve was a new experience for the National Park Service. It was handling tasks with which the trust board had little experience, such as scenic easement monitoring. EBLA was running smoothly, and being supervised was not all bad. Pickard felt no great urgency about the timetable for the transfer of power. [19]

The Independence of the Trust Board Grows

While attorneys for the county and NPS worked on developing the language for the interlocal agreement, other members of the trust board grew impatient to gain firmer control of its affairs. To the members anxious to settle the matter, Herb Pickard's patient and conciliatory style, which had worked so well during the comprehensive planning phase, seemed to concede too much control to the Park Service. Pickard was willing to allow Kris Ravetz a strong role in setting the agenda for trust board meetings, for example, and this, they believed, undermined the chairman's authority. It was becoming evident to them that the conditions for transfer of authority were too vague. If funding for waysides failed to materialize, if negotiations for easements bogged down, should the trust board be expected to remain indefinitely in "official limbo"? [20] After functioning for a year, some of the members felt that it was time to take charge.

Reed Jarvis, who had been highly involved at EBLA for seven years, took a step back from EBLA to allow it more autonomy. In April 1986, he accepted a transfer from Acting NPS Regional Director William Briggle to become regional chief of resource management and visitor protection in Seattle. EBLA was given a new NPS manager, and this, in conjunction with the election of a new trust board chairwoman, began the slow process of shifting power to the trust board, as initially intended.

Richard Hoffman Becomes New NPS Manager

In April 1986, Regional Director Briggle asked Superintendent Richard E. ("Dick") Hoffman of San Juan Island National Historical Park to add Ebey's Landing to his responsibilities. San Juan Island is situated north of Whidbey Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Its proximity to the reserve and Hoffman's experience with planning and community relations made him a logical choice as manager.

Handling two NPS units simultaneously necessarily removed Dick Hoffman from daily contact with the reserve; the commute by ferry from San Juan Island took several hours in each direction. The assignment required adjustments for Hoffman in many ways. Feeling sometimes like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hoffman was a traditional superintendent at San Juan, but expected to cooperate with a trust board at EBLA. Accustomed to a clear line of authority, Hoffman gradually warmed to the concept of a trust board managing an NPS unit. He came away, he says, a believer in the idea of reserves. [21]

Acting Regional Director Briggle instructed Hoffman to accelerate the development of waysides and facilities, and to meet the terms of the enabling legislation so that the trust board could take over. When Charles Odegaard became the NPS regional director in March 1987, he reiterated Briggle's instructions with "very strong marching orders" to complete the transfer within a year. To do this, Hoffman felt that he must break through the inertia that seemed to have developed among the reserve's governmental partners regarding the interlocal agreement. [22]

In order to complete the interpretive program, Hoffman was willing to reduce its scope. "I'm more prone towards this," he said:

I like things that are more modest, more home grown and less DSC [Denver Service Center, where NPS planning is centralizedi: large, big, pretty. They come in, they're used to having big bucks, and they spend big bucks, and they build things rather nicely. [But] I had small dollars and I built things more modestly. That's more my style.

Ironically, Hoffman's concern with modifying the wayside program delayed the program's completion somewhat. However, this had some benefits. It afforded the board an opportunity to redesign (and, in their eyes, improve) some of EBLA's waysides, and it scaled down the number of interpretive signs planned for the reserve.

The Reserve Coordinator

In the summer of 1987, Kris Ravetz's temporary appointment expired. Ravetz had been hired by the National Park Service, and it was to the Service that she ultimately answered. She had run trust board meetings, taken minutes, and handled many of the daily tasks in the reserve. With the expiration of Kris Ravetz's position, the trust board could develop a new course. Although some members were satisfied with Ravetz's style of guidance, a few perceived this as an opportunity for the trust board to assume greater control of operations. The board therefore restructured the executive director position. They changed the title to "reserve coordinator," which had a "softer" sound, and made the position directly accountable to the trust board. The coordinator's role was to advise the board on various matters, stay abreast of local ordinances and planning, monitor easements, prepare annual reports, research sources of funding, and be a contact for the governmental partners. As specified in the EBLA comprehensive plan, the coordinator would be responsible for many reserve activities and programs, but the trust board chair would set the agenda and formulate policy. The board then hired local planning consultant Rob Harbour to fill the half-time position. [23]

In his mind, Harbour's greatest contribution would be to provide technical assistance to empower the trust board and the local community to administer the reserve and to deal with the intricacies of public land management. His extensive knowledge of planning and experience in the local community soon made Harbour indispensable to the trust board. Having worked as a planner with Island County, Harbour also knew that the reserve could pale in importance in the affairs of local agencies if frequent contacts were not maintained. He made a point of forging strong links with each of the governmental partners, as well as with the local citizenry. With the help of an office manager, Harbour took on much of the day-to-day work of the reserve. [24]

Vicki Brown Elected Chairwoman

Herb Pickard believed that the chairman should be attuned to change, and by October 1987, he felt that the board had changed enough that he should resign the chair. The board selected Vicki Brown to succeed him, setting an informal precedent for the vice-chair to become the chair.

Vicki Brown had years of experience on local land use planning committees. [25] She set a new tone on the board that stemmed in part from an outspoken approach to issues and in part from what she perceived the board should be. Brown was determined that the NPS should let the trust board leave its "apprenticeship" behind. A few trust board members have recalled that her take-charge style sometimes precluded teamwork, particularly because she and Dick Hoffman often worked in tandem. But they also note that Brown appropriately focused the trust board on particular goals. She sought primarily to gain specific commitments from both the NPS and Island County, and then to establish the trust board's autonomy. She and Hoffman agreed that the trust board should soon assume full control of EBLA, and other trust board members credit her with kicking into high gear the transfer of authority. Like Dick Hoffman, Vicki Brown saw the trust board's role in relatively narrower terms than her predecessor. To her mind, the board's core mission was to uphold scenic easements. Projects such as trail installations---aside from the trail at Ebey's Prairie--would require expenditures that the trust board could ill afford. Nor had the trust board the authority or the need to be involved in issues such as the preservation of historic structures, which the Coupeville and county historic advisory committees could handle, or the problem of noise from Navy jet landing practices near Smith Prairie. Although she felt that the board's role was limited, she nonetheless believed that it should be the board, and not the NPS, that was the most visible in reserve affairs. [26]

Brown developed a rapport with some of the Island County commissioners who, like her, wished to keep EBLA under local control. Yet she and the other trust board members believed that the board should have autonomy from the county commissioners as well. One way to do this was to retain control of the reserve budget. The board had considered channeling its bills through the county auditor; however, this would give the Island County commissioners review authority over every check the board issued. Preferring to avoid local politics, they turned to the fire district model. Fire districts have authority to spend without commission oversight. The trust board would have to pass a motion in order to spend, but at least it would have the autonomy it desired on such fiscal matters. [27]

Interlocal Agreement Signed

At the end of 1987, the trust board still lacked an interlocal agreement permitting it officially to manage the reserve. National Park Service Regional Director Charles Odegaard informed Richard Hoffman that he must have an interlocal agreement, one way or another, by May 1988. [28] Vicki Brown intensively lobbied Dick Caldwell, recently elected to the Island County Board of Commissioners (and in whose district EBLA lay), to speed the process along. Other county officials continued to express concern that the NPS would leave the county with the lion's share of responsibility for EBLA. Island County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jamieson raised the issue of liability due to actions or inaction by the trust board, and which agency would be responsible for these matters. He also reiterated that EBLA's legislation had required the NPS to manage the reserve until easements, management plans' and facilities were fully developed. But in January 1988, the four governmental partners at EBLA drafted an interlocal agreement. Half a year then passed while they reviewed the draft and discussed their concerns. [29]

On June 28 the NPS rented a room at the Captain Whidbey Inn and Caldwell and the government attorneys met to reach an understanding. The resulting final agreement defined the duties and responsibilities of each governmental signatory, the powers and responsibilities of the trust board, the means of financing and insuring the board, and its authority to acquire, hold and dispose of property. It committed only the county to a direct financial contribution (of an unspecified amount); the county would also donate in-kind services. Monetary contributions by Coupeville and Washington State Parks would be donated when possible; otherwise, their services were to be in-kind. Caldwell then took the document back to the other commissioners, who approved it and agreed to release $10,000 from hotel tax revenues to the trust board. The board could now take over. [30]

On July 24, 1988, NPS Acting Regional Director Briggle formalized the transfer of authority in a ceremony at the Prairie Overlook. Attended by U. S. Representative Al Swift and State Representative Mary Margaret Haugen, the event marked the trust board's "graduation day," veteran reserve advocate Herb Pickard remarked with satisfaction. [31]

Trust Board Officially Takes Over

After the formal transfer of authority to the trust board, a series of cooperative agreements were put m place. The NPS renewed its support of an interpretive position at Fort Casey State Park. The state representative to the trust board, Ken Hageman, helped develop interpretive sites and guaranteed maintenance and clean-up within his jurisdiction. Other agreements followed in the next two years for the maintenance and protection of facilities and exhibits. The town of Coupeville periodically contributed funds from its hotel and lodging tax. Coupeville and Island County provided services such as patrols, gravel, and road maintenance. The Island County Historical Society made room on the porch of its new museum for an EBLA exhibit, in exchange for landscaping advice and a wheelchair ramp from the NPS, and the NPS helped the historical society by purchasing a scenic easement; this reduced the value--and therefore the cost--of the land.

Whatever the state and local partners provided beyond routine service in the area, the trust board considered as in-kind contributions. The board made a conscious decision, coordinator Rob Harbour has stated, to be conservative about such accounting. Legitimate matching funds would consist only of the cost to the state, county, or town above and beyond functions normally performed within the boundaries of the reserve. [32]

Finding ways to increase local commitment to EBLA was essential. Faced with the phasing out of total NPS support, the trust board's 1988 budget was the last one in which NPS money would comprise more than fifty percent of EBLA's revenues. [33]

EBLA Status

In addition, gaining autonomy resulted in a change of the reserve's status to that of an affiliated unit of the national park system: the Service in Washington D. C. concluded that the transfer of management to local control disqualified EBLA as a full NPS unit. This diminished slightly its ability to acquire National Park Service funding, and became a constant concern to the board. On a few occasions this status reduced monies available to other NPS units; a few repair, rehabilitation, and interpretive programs by-passed the reserve. In Fiscal Year 1987 EBLA's impending affiliated status caused it to lose some fee system funding that was prorated to all areas of the park system. In Fiscal Year 1988, under a tight budget, the NPS was forced to drop EBLA from its regional priorities for interpretive programs altogether, making it difficult for Dick Hoffman to accomplish his goals for the wayside program. While EBLA was considered "affiliated" the NPS did not include the trust board in all superintendent's meetings. It seemed appropriate, therefore, that the NPS arrowhead was not prominent on reserve signs and waysides, and instead shared billing with a special EBLA logo. [34]

Adjusting to Change

The trust board became creative in finding sources of funding and assistance outside of the four government agencies to help in operating the reserve. For example, a cooperative agreement signed in 1990 by the NPS, Island County, and the trust board to produce exhibits at Monroe's Landing and the Crockett Blockhouse included a promise of maintenance assistance from the Coupeville Lions Club. Seattle Pacific University occasionally provided housing at its Fort Casey Campus for Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) and NPS trail crews sent from North Cascades National Park. The school district helped educate the local population and future stewards of the reserve by providing grants to teachers to develop a special curriculum package on EBLA. [35] Puget Sound Power and Light Company donated surplus telephone poles for split rail fences for the Prairie Overlook, which the State Parks Department cut and hauled to the site. Such donations were all considered in-kind contributions, to be matched in cash by the National Park Service. The more that private citizens and local government could give, the more funds the NPS could allocate to EBLA.

As it gained experience, the trust board gradually adapted to necessity. In 1988, the State assigned Terry Doran, state parks Region II supervisor, to the trust board, allowing Ken Hageman of Fort Casey State Park to return to full-time duty at the park. This streamlined decision-making, in that the trust board no longer had to await approval from upper management of the state parks and recreation commission for its actions. The trust board reduced the length of individual terms from four years to three, a more realistic timespan for volunteers, and began the custom of reelecting officers at the beginning of each year. [36]

One of the facts of life that the board learned to live with was the pace at which it could accomplish its goals. With a volunteer board and no funding for full-time staff, operating plans and projects progressed at varying rates. The NPS remained vitally committed to fulfilling its responsibilities, although here, too, work progressed at varying rates.

Scenic Easement Monitoring

To Vicki Brown's dismay, Richard Hoffman informed the board soon after the transfer ceremony that his "dual role" as project manager and trust board member must continue. Another "transition period of shared responsibilities will be our reality for the next few years," he wrote, while a contractor prepared a scenic easement administration plan. Until the plan was complete, the trust board could not be held responsible for monitoring easements. [37] Hoffman knew that trust board members expected to handle easement monitoring themselves, and acknowledged that they often acted effectively as "third party interveners" between landowners and the NPS. Monitoring through personal contacts worked well, but he believed that easement monitoring plans "can go to sleep and then get forgotten about with a change of people. You can end up losing them, literally." A comment by Tom Roehl, who negotiated the Grasser's Hill easement for Penn Cove Associates, illustrated his point. The easement on Grasser's Hill would require constant vigilance, Roehl warned the trust board in 1986. 'The current owners know just what's allowed, and so will the next buyers. But five buyers down the line-- that's when it becomes fuzzy. . . . And a few trust boards down the line. . . ." [38] Dick Hoffman wanted a documented plan that provided photographs, maps, and descriptions of the land when easements were purchased, along with a systematic annual review, property by property, by the trust board. [39] This would provide continuity in monitoring easements. Landowners could ask to make certain modifications, and the county planning department, not recognizing that the parcel was in a critical part of the reserve, might mistakenly grant a permit (see Chapter Nine). Hoffman understood, as did the trust board, that the county planning department must be aware of what properties had scenic easements. [40]

Vicki Brown was reluctant to relinquish planning for easement administration to the NPS. This responsibility, she believed, belonged rightly with the trust board. Many on the board feared that an adversarial relationship might become institutionalized in an official NPS plan. If the NPS instituted strong regulations that required formal action against violators, the trust board might lose the good will of landowners. [41] Nor could the trust board call a government lawyer every time there was a problem. If they could prove that they could handle the task, the Park Service might relent and permit them to prepare their own easement administration system. [42]

The most immediate occasions to monitor easements arose, as expected, on Grasser's Hill. As lots on the hill were sold, owners applied for building permits. This gave the trust board the opportunity to approach the owners to determine if they were aware of the restrictions on their land. Some were not. Even sooner than Dick Hoffman and Tom Roehl had predicted, some real estate agents, intentionally or inadvertently, misled some landowners about easements on their properties on Grasser's Hill. (Vicki Brown and Harlan Hobbs had offered to prepare a package to give to potential buyers, but the realtors declined.) Some of the new landowners claimed no knowledge of development restrictions on their lands. This reinforced the trust board's determination to prevent mistakes and to build relationships with new property owners. Buyer-friendly disclosures, recurring visits by trust board members, and close working relationships with landowners must be a community relations tool. When the National Park Service supported its handling of an easement dispute with a Grasser's Hill developer, the trust board reached a turning point. It began to feel that it was fully performing its role. By the summer of 1990, the NPS signed an agreement authorizing the trust board to subcontract the preparation of the monitoring plan locally. Rob Harbour agreed to create the document himself. [43]

George Knapp and Cindy Orlando Take the Lead

Having put so much energy into gaining autonomy for the trust board, Vicki Brown grew weary of the pressures of leadership, and, in 1988, resigned from the trust board. Subsequent chairs tended to concern themselves more with public education and outreach. They worked toward completing the final phase of the wayside exhibit plan. Viewing waysides as the primary means of education and interpretation for visitors to the reserve, the new chairman, George Knapp, lobbied the NPS to complete the wayside exhibit plan. Since 1985, Knapp had advocated placing signs at the entrances to the reserve. "We had a terrible time adjusting to the National Park Service timeframe," he acknowledged. 'Things took a long time." (In 1988, however, the Service had little money for the EBLA wayside program.) Considering himself to be a compromiser, Knapp took quiet pleasure in watching the board members build consensus among themselves. [44]

In 1989, Dick Hoffman returned to full-time management of San Juan Island Historical Park in March, winning, soon afterward, an NPS commendation for his simultaneous management of two NPS units. When the NPS transferred Cynthia ("Cindy") Orlando to the reserve shortly after George Knapp became chairman, Knapp had another kindred spirit on the board regarding waysides. Cindy Orlando was a twenty-year NPS veteran with a degree in anthropology and a background as a ranger in visitor services; she arrived at EBLA from her position as concessions management analyst in the regional office. At EBLA, NPS Regional Director Charles Odegaard assigned Orlando full-time in order to show the Service's commitment to establishing professional management in the reserve. Orlando would focus in particular on the transition to full trust board management. This process included completing the interpretive and wayside exhibit plan; she and the trust board also concentrated on developing and installing the walking trail across Ebey's Prairie, proposed developing a comprehensive reserve trail system, and worked with local organizations and agencies to create a driving tour (the last two are still in the planning stages). [45]

Wilbur Bishop Becomes Chairman

Wilbur Bishop was elected chairman of the trust board in 1990, a position he held for two years. A local farmer, Bishop also brought a strong interest in historic architecture to the trust board. His most compelling concern was in maintaining a viable agricultural community in central Whidbey Island. His primary goal was to preserve the character of the community; he therefore felt no great concern about the pace of facility development within the reserve. This did not preclude a desire to make the reserve more accessible to the public, however. Bishop had earlier taken the lead in developing the walking trail across the Sherman farm, playing a crucial role in gaining local support for trails. [46]

As the 1990s opened, the trust board and its coordinator were becoming more active in the historical review process and public outreach. They increasingly hosted conferences and public events. They also helped revive the fading Central Whidbey Island Historical Advisory Committee and opposed the controversial vinyl siding on St. Mary's Church in Coupeville. By the end of Cindy Orlando's tenure m EBLA in the fall of 1990, the major cooperative agreements and most waysides were in place. The Ridge Trail was finished. Orlando had overseen the design, planning, and installation of six major interpretive sites and had established maintenance support for EBLA through an agreement with North Cascades National Park's maintenance division. She also contributed to an atmosphere of cooperation, and completed the management transition to the trust board. [47] For the time being, the land acquisition funds were exhausted. The National Park Service could not continue with land acquisition at the reserve until additional funds to purchase scenic easements could be found.

New Type of National Park Service Representative

In September 1990, the NPS promoted Orlando to the superintendency of Fort Clatsop National Memorial in Oregon. This ended the final phase of NPS management at EBLA by a full-time uniformed manager. Gretchen Luxenberg replaced Orlando on the trust board, the first NPS representative assigned to the board as an NPS advisor and liaison, rather than manager. This position would be a collateral duty to her staff historian duties (officially one-quarter time, although in fact EBLA has taken more of her time than this). Luxenberg was familiar with EBLA and helped develop the inventories of the reserve's cultural landscape and pre-1940 structures in 1983. Since then she worked in the Pacific Northwest Regional Office as a historian on a variety of projects related to historic preservation and the parks. Luxenberg was able to help the trust board tailor its interpretive materials to local specifications. To the other trust board members, she blended well on the board, participating enthusiastically in a wide variety of reserve and community events. She did not "try to change our culture and our patterns," as Wilbur Bishop said, and seemed comfortably "like a local." [48]

Recent Events

By October 1991, Rob Harbour and the trust board completed a self-evaluation for the reserve. The exercise proved useful, and the board imposed upon itself stricter oversight of its deadlines and progress toward long-range goals. [49] In early 1992, the trust board elected Pat Howell chairwoman. Before she joined the board in 1988, Howell had owned a bed-and-breakfast in Coupeville and had been on the Coupeville planning commission. An active booster of the reserve, she continued the general trend of the board toward developing EBLA facilities and local good will. Her concern was less to promote tourism than to enhance popular understanding of the reserve. With steady in- migration to Whidbey Island, she noted, many new residents were unaware of EBLA's existence. Howell proposed to update the brochure in order to better reflect the present community and explain the reserve to visitors. [50]

Trust board members are quick to point out that the board has been increasingly woven into the fabric of central Whidbey Island. It has become more attentive to issues such as historical structure and easement review, and more likely to become involved in subcommittees or to cross over onto task forces established by local governments. As a result, the trust board is now incorporated into Island County and Coupeville design review. Citizens are more aware of the reserve and its meaning to the community.

Regional Director Charles Odegaard and Congressman Al Swift worked recently with the NPS in Washington, D. C., to return EBLA to permanent full unit status. In October 1992, Director Ridenour agreed to the change. This was good news for the trust board. Although it has been included in most NPS programs, the reserve will now be on an equal footing with other NPS units and will receive greater recognition from outside constituency groups. Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve will also begin to appear on maps of National Park Service units, a change which may bring increased visitation to the island. [51]

Raising the visibility and accessibility of EBLA locally has required time and effort. Highly committed to the reserve, the trust board handles more and more of its administrative details. Nonetheless, as a largely volunteer group, the board relies heavily upon a strong staff. The office manager handles a large workload, as does reserve coordinator Rob Harbour. With his extensive knowledge of planning and land management, Harbour often functions as a tenth member of the board. Frequently donating personal time to reserve affairs, Harbour's schedule is full. [52]

Soon after Pat Howell's election, the trust board was able to move into its new offices in the Island County museum. Through the eastern windows is a striking view of historic Front Street, Penn Cove, and the uplands bordering the distant shore. The entire panorama is within Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve. The National Park Service hopes to acquire the congressional appropriation to purchase additional scenic easements to preserve this landscape. With the sponsorship of Congressmen Al Swift, who has been working two years to acquire these funds, the funding will hopefully become available in 1994. Perseverance and public support have been vital to the reserve's success. [53]

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Last Updated: 27-May-2000