This Wednesday we have a truly unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to expand our chapter. Two years ago we were approached about acquiring three private islands in the Potomac River, and, after careful study by our Islands Committee and the Board of Governors, the last remaining step to move forward is a vote by the Membership.
Over the past two years, volunteers spent countless hours considering the acquisition from every angle. We engaged lawyers, insurance professionals, real estate professionals, and various other experts to weigh in on how this would impact our Chapter. After carefully charting out a course of action that would protect the Chapter’s resources, shield us from liability, and engaging a core group of members committed to maintaining the islands that we have decided to bring this to a vote.
This process was not conducted lightly. Hundreds of hours went into this decision. After diligent study and careful consideration, the Islands Committee recommended the acquisition of the islands to the Board of Governors. The Board, in turn, engaged with additional experts and professionals to verify the Island Committee’s findings and unanimously voted in favor of the acquisition.
There are many reasons these islands would benefit our Chapter. Other local private organizations that own islands in the Potomac River have decades-long membership waitlists. Having property in the Potomac guarantees us a front-row seat at the table at government and legislative meetings over water conservancy. We have already been approached by organizations looking to partner with us to help maintain the islands – a coalition of which we will be at the center.
Intangible benefits like increased membership and a powerful coalition of allies aside, preserving the use of these islands for education and conservation purposes is at the very core of what we as an organization stand for. Whether you’re an angler, a hunter, a bird-watcher, a camping enthusiast, or just love the outdoors, acquiring these islands presents an opportunity for you.
In a presentation to the Board, we were reminded by a longtime member about hiccups in previous acquisitions that wound up costing the Chapter significant resources. The West Woods, for example, was offered to B-CC IWLA at a significantly reduced cost, only for the offer to be rejected. Ultimately, we were drawn into a bidding war and paid an order of magnitude more than what we would have under the initial offer. We were reminded that this example was not a one-time occurrence.
Simply put, there is no way we could afford to buy these islands on the open market. Minnie’s Island, for example, was previously sold 25+ years ago for $14 million. The Potomac Conservancy is offering us these islands for $3 under the condition that we protect them for conservation purposes. They approached the Chapter in particular because of our deep knowledge, experience, and track record of protecting local natural resources.
Please join us in making history this Wednesday at the August dinner meeting by voting in favor of acquiring these islands.