June 1, 2015 – On May 15th, local conservationist and long-time North Olympic Land Trust leader John Willits passed away.
John was a personal hero of mine and a community icon for land conservation. As I’ve reflected on the loss of my friend, I’ve been lifted and inspired by his legacy.
North Olympic Land Trust turns 25 this year, and since the beginning, John has been our clear-eyed champion. His passion for our natural environment coupled with his humble character, dry sense of humor, and patient persistence have built a community land ethic that values and conserves lands that are the foundation of this place and our culture.
At the heart of John’s legacy was his passion for the natural areas near the mouth of the Dungeness River. Thanks to John’s leadership, a community of local farmers, sportsmen, birders, and government agencies has developed and together permanently conserved over 580 acres for wildlife and farming near the mouth of the Dungeness River. While this growing conservation corridor protects phenomenal farmland and waterfowl habitat, it also conserves a piece of our cultural heritage for generations to come.
Throughout his life, John embodied an ethic centered upon our personal and community obligation to the land. While our friend has passed away, his legacy must continue in each of us.
PS One way to experience John’s legacy is through this video created soon after his passing. The clips of John were shot about a month and a half before he passed.