When the Camano City Schoolhouse was built in 1905-06, the entire area had recently been logged. Only stumps and a few native trees remained. By the early 1940’s the logged over timberland had been mostly converted to farmland. Some re-grading had been done around the perimeter of the Schoolhouse property. The hillside on two sides of the Schoolhouse had been graded back leaving a flat open area to the North of the Schoolhouse.
Over the years, more houses were built in the Camano City area. Camano Island's first Fire Station was built in 1946 which included the small 2 bays on the West side. The East addition, with larger bays, was built in the 1970's in order to accommodate the larger fire trucks of the time. As the years passed invasive English Ivy escaped from gardens and overran much of the native plant understory. Ivy climbed up the Madrona and Big Leaf Maple trees. Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom covered a large area on the hillside surrounding the Fire Hall, also smothering the native plants. Ownership of the combined property shifted back and forth between the School District and Fire District
In 2012, the Camano Schoolhouse Foundation purchased the Camano City Schoolhouse from the Camano Island Fire District. As part of the restoration of the building, some work was completed around the Schoolhouse grounds. Two large diseased Big Leaf Maple trees on the south side of the Schoolhouse were cut down. Some traditional flowers were added to the Lilac bushes on the North side of the schoolhouse. Later, several other Big Leaf Maple were pruned up, and additional traditional flowers were planted along the foot of the hillside. (Area 1 & Area 2)
Late in 2018, the Camano Schoolhouse Foundation purchased the surplused Fire Hall. As part of the initial clean-up, a local contractor was hired to mow down and mulch the invasive Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom on the hillside to the North and East of the Fire Hall. Prior to mowing, a close inspection showed that a number of native plants had managed to coexist. These were marked to be saved, and over several years, the young Madrona, Oso Berry, Ocean Spray, Snow Berry, Nootka Rose, Mahonia, Sword Fern, and Honeysuckles are reestablishing. (Areas 3 through 7)
A long-range landscape plan has been developed. This plan looks at future needs for parking, as well as circulation for both people and cars. The Himalayan Blackberry in the future parking/circulation areas are kept under control with mowing/weedwacking. Spot treating is used to control reoccurring Himalayan Blackberry shoots on the hillsides among the recovering native vegetation. Scotch Broom seedlings are hand pulled. Both Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom control will be ongoing.
In the area of the East bank overrun with English Ivy, the Ivy has been hand pulled, leaving the native Oso Berry, Ocean Spray, Snow Berry and Orange Honeysuckle to expand. Control for Ivy shoots will be ongoing. Some ornamentals have been added and additional natives may be added to replace less desirable ornamentals as the area matures. (Area 8) Under the Big Leaf Maple tree, the Ivy was hand pulled. Away from the tree roots, machine mulching was also used. Some grass seed was scattered in the spring of 2021. Ivy control is ongoing. (Area 9)
The Camano City Schoolhouse / Fire Hall property is adjacent to the year-round flow of Chapman Creek and its large wooded ravine. A number of Blacktail deer use the property for a migration corridor, browsing, and rest area. Smaller mammals such as Cotton Tail rabbit use the native cover, as do various song birds, butterflies, and bees.