Sculpture dedicated in honor of Eleanor Stopps

Posted 8/5/14

“Courting Pigeon Guillemots,” a bronze sculpture commissioned to honor Eleanor Stopps’ tireless work to save Protection Island for nesting seabirds, is to be dedicated in front of the Northwest …

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Sculpture dedicated in honor of Eleanor Stopps

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“Courting Pigeon Guillemots,” a bronze sculpture commissioned to honor Eleanor Stopps’ tireless work to save Protection Island for nesting seabirds, is to be dedicated in front of the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., at 2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14. The public event is hosted by the Port Townsend Arts Commission, which accepted the donated piece on behalf of the city.

Tony Angell, writer, environmental educator and the sculptor of the piece, speaks at the event.

Two Port Townsend women, Robin Ornelas and Jan Halliday spent more than two years raising money to commission and purchase the sculpture of Stopps’ favorite seabirds, and then presented the sculpture to the City of Port Townsend.

Ornelas had interviewed Stopps for the Jefferson County Historical Society and is a member of the annual Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award Committee. Halliday first met and interviewed Stopps for a series of newspaper articles in the late 1970s when Protection Island nesting sites were being crushed under developers’ bulldozers.

Stopps died in April 2012, her favorite time of year, when 17,000 pairs of rhinoceros auklets were burrowing into the sandy ground and cliff sides to lay their eggs, and seabirds, such as guillemots, cormorants, puffins, oystercatchers and gulls, were gathering sea grasses and sticks for their nests.

More than 70 percent of Puget Sound’s seabirds nest on 364-acre Protection Island. Because of Stopps’ patient diligence, the island became a protected National Wildlife Refuge in 1982. Boats must remain 200 feet offshore, and nobody, except for a caretaker, is allowed to set foot on the island.

“Courting Pigeon Guillemots” was installed on city property mid-June, in front of the Maritime Center on a plinth of columnar basalt quarried from the Columbia River. After a significant donation from Friends of the Arts, installation was paid for with funds from the Port Townsend Arts Commission’s Fund for Public Art. The plaque, affixed to the stone, was cast by the Port Townsend Foundry.

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