American Camp, San Juan Island

I have been working on this watercolor since my trip to the San Juan Islands last month. On the southern end of San Juan Island there is an area called American Camp which is part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park. It's a beautiful part of the island with huge swaths of golden prairie over looking the massive Strait of Juan de Fuca. It's beaches are sandy and full of giant pieces of driftwood. It's a great spot to bird and whale watch, or just spend the day reading. In the mid 1800s war almost broke out over a dead pig between the United States and Great Britain. The Pig War as it became to be known, was settled without bloodshed. You can read about it by clicking on the link.

Both the American Camp and the British Camp to the north, still harbor some remnants of their former military inhabitants. A few structures remain, but there is also the flora and fauna that, for better or for worse, was introduced to the island: mainly rabbits. American Camp is overrun with bunnies. Sometimes when we have walked the praire at dusk, it is so spotted with rabbits, it feels like we're in the middle of Watership Down. The rabbits were brought by the U.S. military for food, but once the camp was abandoned the rabbits did what rabbits do best: multiply like crazy. Then sometime in the 1970s (I think?) red foxes were introduced to the island to control the feral rabbit population. The foxes, like their rabbit prey, have also multiplied. This last trip, within a half hour window, we spotted four red foxes. Their colors ranged from red, brown, silver, to black. Once we saw a silver one sitting in a field, surrounded by lots of strangely unwary bunnies. He sat looking sated and like he was about to fall asleep. It was as if he was bored and overwhelmed with such bounty.

*The watercolor is available in The Store.


  1. Beautiful painting, and love your detailed chronicle. Shame about the bunnies and foxes - as cute as they are, they're everywhere unfortunately.

  2. Thank you! It is a shame about the bunnies and foxes, as charming as they are. Introduced species can just wreak havoc on an island ecosystem.


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