Nestled among the trees off Highway 9 past Deming is the place Rand Jack calls home. In his attached workshop, Rand, 78, will spend weeks chipping away at the same piece of locally sourced wood, molding what was once unassuming into a treasured piece of art. The process of creating these pieces takes patience, determination, and an eye for something whose beauty has yet to take shape.
Rand has similarly played an outsized role in transforming the landscape of Whatcom County as an educator, conservationist, and attorney. After graduating from Princeton University and Yale Law School, Rand practiced law in Seattle before founding the Law and Diversity Program at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College. And for the past 36 years, Rand has devoted himself to the Whatcom Land Trust, a nonprofit working with landowners to protect valuable natural resources.
As a volunteer member of the land trust’s board of directors, Rand has played a pivotal role in brokering agreements for the conservation of more than 20,000 acres of Whatcom County land, including Galbraith Mountain, Clark’s Point, Teddy Bear Cove, Lily Point Marine Park, Stimpson Nature Reserve, and Canyon Lake Community Forest. “It really is a wonderful place to work with a land trust because there’s so much here that’s worth protecting,” Rand says. He also assisted in what’s considered one of the land trust’s most successful acquisitions in its history — the recent purchase of the Skookum Creek Conservation Corridor, the result of a privately supported $4 million community campaign which will protect 1,400 acres of forest and salmon habitat.
For these endeavors, Rand was recently honored by the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce as the recipient of their 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. “If you just look at the range of county parks that the land trust has helped to create over the years, those wouldn’t be there, in many cases, without the relationships that Rand cultivated over time,” says Chris Moench, Rand’s longtime friend and the president of the Whatcom Land Trust board.
Rand acts as a conservation entrepreneur, volunteering his services in numerous negotiations. In the case of Governors Point, a major peninsula off Chuckanut Drive, Rand was in direct contact with the owner, pulling together their individual visions to create an agreement that satisfied both parties. Rand and the Whatcom Land Trust had their eyes set on the property for years, waiting for a willing owner. Now, two-thirds of the peninsula has been donated to the land trust for public use and will include a two-mile loop with access to two beautiful beaches on the east and west sides of the peninsula.
Now that he’s retired from teaching law, Rand splits much of his time between conservation, wood carving, adventuring, and his family. His picturesque woodland home, with its potted trees, intricate carvings, and towering windows is the perfect headquarters. Rand sees conservation as a basic moral obligation. “We happen to have the power to make decisions about nature, and often we make the wrong decisions,” Rand says. “The land trust is just a teeny way to bring some balance to that.” As he sits in his favorite rocking chair, looking contentedly out into the vast acreage he calls home, it’s hard not to consider the home he’s created for residents of Whatcom County — one that will stand, untouched and magnificent, for generations to come.
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