Large clouds roll through the sky and a slow breeze blows through the camas, buttercup, paintbrush and chocolate lily flowers in full bloom. We're standing on Yellow Island, the gem of the San Juan Islands on a trip with a several dozen of our members, exploring this rare example of native prairie in Western Washington. The island is one of our preserves in Washington state.
Phil Green, the steward of Yellow Island greets us on the beach after our boat trip from Anacortes. "You came at just the right time this year," he proclaims, motioning to Hummingbird Hill behind us, which is painted in hues of blue, yellow and red from the blooming wildflowers. Last year, the bloom had come much earlier due to the warmer-than-usual spring.
From the beach, the group fanned out over the island exploring the prairie habitat, which TNC has maintained over the past dozen years through controlled burns on portions of the island. This is akin to methods likely used by Native Americans on Yellow Island, and other islands, more than a century ago. These methods maintain the prairie. Otherwise, the landscape would look more heavily forested, like other neighboring islands.
Take a trip around the island with us — through photos our volunteer photographer Sean Galvin snapped that day. And watch the Facebook Live video with Phil Green we broadcast from the island near his year-round cabin — hear him talk about life on the island and about its flora and fauna.