After 15 years and 25 individual property transactions, the Judd Creek Preserve totals 155 acres of permanently protected land, including 10, 500 feet of Judd Creek. Judd Creek, one of Vashon’s two major salmon-bearing creeks, starts its headwaters in Island Center Forest and flows south until it drains into Quartermaster Harbor. Judd Creek hosts both Coho and chum salmon, as well as cutthroat trout and the native freshwater Western pearlshell mussel. The creek winds through Paradise Valley, historically significant as the second-oldest homestead site on Vashon, when it was opened up as pasture land for the early settlers’ livestock. It retains its rural feel, as an area of the island still populated with grazing animals as well as large swaths of open meadow bordered by wooded buffer zones along the creek. Judd Creek provides excellent habitat for a wide array of both resident and migratory bird species and this watershed contains the best soils for high-level recharge to the island’s drinking water aquifer.
Michael Kneeshaw Property in the Judd Creek Preserve
Michael Kneeshaw, longtime Paradise Valley resident and Judd Creek neighbor, passed away on Christmas Day in 2016. Shortly after his passing, the Vashon Land Trust was notified that, in his will, Mike bequeathed his 9 acre property to the Land Trust. Mike’s only request was that the Land Trust hold the property “…for the use and enjoyment of the people of Vashon Island.”
While Mike’s gift came as a surprise, Land Trust staff had gotten to know Mike a little over the years. His property is adjacent to the Judd Creek Preserve, first established in 2005. The property holds a prominent place in Vashon history.
It was originally part of the Sherman Family’s 35 acre Millbrook Farm. Millbrook was established in the early 1900’s as a dairy farm that eventually became an orchard. The Sherman’s operated a steam driven sawmill on the property. The Sherman’s sold the property in 1936. It was later subdivided.
During the 1980’s, Dean Miller developed part of it into a park for his wife, Doretha. Doretha Park was the site of many parties and celebrations over the years, including staff picnics for K2 employees. Mike Kneeshaw purchased a 9 acre parcel in 1995.
Mike grew up in Seattle and spent summers and weekends at a family cabin on Vashon, then moved to the Island permanently in 1983. He was a Master Gardner who loved garden and forest alike. He maintained the property beautifully and continued its use as a place to enjoy friends and family in the great outdoors.
The Land Trust is deeply honored that Mike entrusted us to care for his beloved property. With help from Puget Sound Energy and Vashon Rotary, the house has been fully restored. A public trail along Judd Creek and up to a Kneeshaw Pond will open soon (Summer 2019). Eventually, Mike’s Trail will connect with the growing trail system throughout the Judd Creek Preserve. We like to think Mike would be pleased with the progress and plans the Land Trust has for fulfilling his wish that the property be held and maintained “…for the use and enjoyment of the people of Vashon Island.”
Thank you, Mike.