The community has a long history of interest and involvement in protecting the BLM-administered public lands in the San Juan Islands. Until the 1970s, the BLM had generally disposed of lands in western Washington, including the San Juan Islands. In the mid-1970s, when the San Juan Island community learned that the BLM was considering transferring Point Colville on Lopez Island to Washington State Parks Department, they contacted the BLM and encouraged the BLM to retain and actively manage lands in the San Juan Islands. As a result, the BLM changed policies to retain lands on the San Juan Islands and began a fruitful relationship with the local community based on shared appreciation and responsibility for the public lands in the San Juan Islands.
Over the ensuing 40 years, the BLM and the community have worked together, through active management and judicious land acquisitions, to conserve the natural resources of the San Juan Islands. The community has continued to express support for the BLM managing the public lands in active partnership with the community.
The BLM relies on partnerships and volunteers to help manage public lands in the San Juan Islands. One BLM employee stationed in the islands, supported by the Wenatchee Field Office staff, works with more than 60 individuals and organizations to monitor, maintain, and manage the BLM-administered public lands.
The Wenatchee Field Office relies on partnerships with organizations such as the Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society and Keepers of the Patos Light (two 501(c)3 friends groups focused on preserving and restoring two BLM-administered lighthouses/stations), Lopez Island Conservation Corps (a volunteer conservation corps comprised of local community youth assisting the BLM with projects on public lands), and Washington State Parks (a state agency that manages recreation facilities on several BLM-administered parcels through a cooperative agreement). These partners and local community members are interested in and supportive of long-term conservation of the BLM-administered public lands as natural areas.