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Yellow Island

Posted by joeabbott on October 23, 2011

imageThe image to the right is Yellow Island as I first saw it. I’d never heard of it before and believe the guide who setup our itinerary was just providing a resting stop for us on our paddle to Jones Island.

But I’m glad he did.

Yellow Island is a wonderful, quiet place with a unique history. You can read a much longer piece on Yellow Island here (along with great pictures of the island when it’s in bloom) but I’m just offering the few tidbits I picked up while traipsing about the island.

In 1946 or so, Lew Dodd bought the island from someone … not sure if it was the Native peoples or the State, but he picked it up and built a home on it. In addition to setting up a homestead, he continued the Native peoples’ practice of controlled burning of the land. This kept both non-native species and trees from making a foothold on the island, but was done specifically to allow the camas flower to flourish. The camas plant enjoys a prairie ecosystem and has a bulb high in sugar content; so by burning the island, the habitat was made to suit the camas as the plant suited the people!

imageLooking at an aerial view of the San Juan Islands, it’s easy to pick out Yellow Island … the only island on which controlled burning is conducted.

Yup, that’s Yellow Island in the lower left!

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 037After Lew and his wife died, the island passed into their children’s hands and was sold to the Nature Conservancy with the requirement being that they continue the upkeep of the island in the manner that the Dodd’s intended.

So, the Conservancy houses an island caretaker year ‘round, visiting groups are limited to six people in size and only during certain hours, and no pets or food is allowed on the Island.

While we were there, we saw quiet beaches, the original cabin, and a stretch of land in the process of being burned:

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 053

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 040

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 049

In addition, we found a couple of plaques that were put into the ground on a high rocky outcrop. In the picture at the start of this post, it’s the rise on the far right.

The poems are to commemorate Lew and his wife, Tib (Elizabeth) at their passing.

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 055


Kayaking - San Juan Islands 054


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