red Ellis, Sr., is a resident of Shaw Island. Fred displayed exceptional foresight by his early recognition of the numerous human threats to the pristine beauty and to the diverse native habitats of the San Juan Islands. He demonstrated exceptional dedication, energy, and breadth of interest in efforts to protect and preserve in perpetuity the flora, fauna, and rural character of the San Juan Islands and the surrounding waters. Fred became a member of the Board of Trustees of the San Juan Preservation Trust in 1980, and in 1979 a member of the Board of Trustees for the Friends of the San Juans, and remains active on both boards to this day.
Fred began his conservation work in the San Juans when he purchased property on Shaw Island in 1937. Over the course of the years, he and his wife, Marilyn, purchased nearly 1,000 acres of wetlands, agricultural fields, forests with old-growth remnants and undisturbed shoreline. Today, through gifts of title to the University of Washington and the San Juan Preservation Trust and through the gift of a conservation easement, all of this land is protected.
A “spectacular piece of philanthropy” was celebrated on May 4, 2002 with the dedication of 579 acres on Parks Bay on Shaw to create the Frederick and Marilyn Ellis Biological Preserve, in honor of Marilyn who passed away in 2000. Fred has said about this place that “it is a very comforting thought to realize this will go on and on”.
Over the years, Fred and Marilyn donated land to the University of Washington to be managed and used by the Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island for education and research.
In 1998 Fred donated 15 acres of his Shaw Island Easement property to the Trust, which is managed as the Hicks Bay Preserve. This parcel contains old-growth Douglas fir, grand fir and western red cedar and preserves shoreline on Hicks Bay and Parks Bay. The Hicks Bay Preserve is contiguous with a part of the 579-acre Fred and Marilyn Ellis Biological Preserve.
In addition to their conservation efforts on Shaw Island, Fred and Marilyn in 1995 placed a conservation easement on the 313-acre Ellis Ranch Property on Lopez Island. The primary purpose of this conservation easement is to preserve farmland and wetlands and the allowed structures were directed out of the open areas. Today there are three family farms operating on this land.
Fred Ellis remains to this day a tireless, vocal advocate conservation and continues to serve as an inspiration for all in our community.