On May 29 in front of a crowd of over 1800 at the Forterra annual breakfast at the Seattle Convention Center, Pope Resources and Forterra signed a Purchase and Sale agreement on over 500 acres and 1.5 miles of Port Gamble shoreline property. Retired Congressman Norm Dicks, characterized the signing as "one of the outstanding achievements in recent days for the environment in our state."
"This agreement is the first stroke in making an audacious vision a reality. It is a great credit to the many elected leaders, tribes, agency staff, community stakeholders and the landowner who are acting to ensure a positive legacy for the future." said Michelle Connor, Forterra Executive Vice President. "The hard part now is for people to understand that this is a whole connected system that won't thrive unless we protect the forest land behind it."
Surrounded by local leaders including Congressman Kilmer, former Congressman Dicks, North Kitsap Commissioner Gelder and Tribal Chairmen Jeromy Sullivan and Leonard Forsman, Martha Konsgaard hailed "the first acquisition in the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project as a milestone in the larger project, which forms the beginning of a response to this ongoing challenge of our time."
Photo source Forterra.org, © Danny Nolan Photography
"The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project is a win for the environment and our community. We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve great outcomes for the remaining forest lands" siad Jon Rose, President of Olympic Property Group. (The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project includes close to 7,000 acres)
The shoreline land acquisition is scheduled to close later this summer but is dependent on state grants and the state budget still in play during this extended legislative session. NKTA supported those shoreline grant applications by preparing a conceptual Port Gamble Shoreline Trail Proposal available here.
On June 11th the North Kitsap Trails Association celebrated the opening of Millie's Trail with Millie Dove Muller and her extended family on Millie's 97th birthday. Millie and North Kitsap Commissioner Rob Gelder, cut the ribbon for this new trail providing public trail access across Millie's private property to the nearly 60 miles of trails on Pope Resources Port Gamble land. Though in a wheel chair herself, Millie says, "I just want people to enjoy my land."
The Poulsbo Historical Society, family and NKTA partnered to create historic signage telling the special history of the six generations of family that have been part of Big Valley history since Millie's grandparents settled on the farm after the Klondike Gold Rush. Millie's mother hiked over Chilkoot Pass into the Yukon with her family at the age of 4! Millie's own words and family photos tell her story of growing up on the farm & the forest trails nearly a century ago.
An IMBA team from Colorado and Oregon spent four days in North Kitsap teaching local volunteers and trail leaders both "Better living through trails", and helpful construction techniques for how to build sustainable trails that minimize environmental impacts, trail maintenance and user conflicts. The all day hands on workshop on the Port Gamble Trails filled w/ 50 attendees, before we could even advertise it! Thanks to Brian Kilpatrick of Ride Kitsap! for organizing the event, the IMBA team and Peninsula Subaru in Bremerton who both sponsored the Trail Crew's visit and gave a generous donation to NKTA. Subaru even offers discounts to ongoing IMBA members through their VIP program.
Ride Kitsap has a great Facebook site with fun photos and is an ongoing resource for mountain cyclists who want to "share trail love" by getting involved in Kitsap trail construction projects.
The fun and successful weekend was capped by a National Trails Day party celebrating the Port Gamble Trails at the Slippery Pig Brewery in Poulsbo. Several hundred people attended and an array of raffle prizes including a Novarra bike by REI were donated by REI, MSR, Thermarest, Bicycle Works, Classic Cycle, Bainbridge Cycle, RAX , Silverdale Cycle and Barn with a View. It was a perfect chance to sample the best of our local craft beer including kegs donated by Valholl, Sound, Hood Canal and Der Blokken Breweries. Over $4,000 was raised for NKTA--so many thanks to IMBA, Ride Kitsap, Brian Kilpatrick, Peninsula Subaru, REI and all the sponsors and donors that helped make the weekend such a success!
REI is coming to Kitsap and even before their Silverdale store opens in October, is already a great community partner! REI has granted $10,000 for projects in NK Heritage Park--the first of our three projects was a May 4th competitive noxious weed pull with high school students. Forty five Kingston High students competed for cash prizes for their school organizations by racing to remove Scotch Broom from NK Heritage Park. Monster piles of the noxious weeds provided a great work out for football team as they faced off against the debate team, Honor Society and the ambitious Junior Class. Thanks to REI for providing the inspiration, prizes and pizza, Dana Coggon and Lori Raymaker from Kitsap County, and all the students and volunteers who made this fun event happen. Coming projects are trail improvements in the park and a new trail map.
NKTA teamed up with Great Peninsula Conservancy to apply for a Birkenfeld grant to obtain land and funds for a trail corridor across the Divide, creating a trail link between the NK Heritage Park almost to the Port Gamble Block. We'll hear the outcome in June. GPC has been a great partner, leading local efforts of an array of partners supporting the Kitsap Forest and Bay conservation efforts. Their spring dinner is coming up May 9 at Kiana Lodge in North Kitsap. Follow this link for more.
Kitsap Forest and Bay (KFBP) conservation efforts have been in the news a lot lately. Several deadlines are approaching; both the March 28 2013 deadline for the option to conserve all 7,000 acres, and the State deadline on the Dept. of Ecology's (DOE) shoreline acquisition funds. The DOE issued a March 22 press release announcing an agreement with Pope Resources on the Port Gamble Bay cleanup. This clarifies that $2 million has been allocated to the Port Gamble shoreline acquisition and Pope Resources has agreed to $17 million to cleanup of Port Gamble Bay. The final disposition of the remaining $5 million will be the subject of future discussions. So we have $2 million dollars in good news, but not full resolution on the DOE funding.
Pope Resources/OPG has a long history of being wonderful community partners, allowing public trail access on their lands for decades. We're grateful for the work that has gone into finding a positive outcome for the community and Port Gamble Bay. We also want to thank Congressman Kilmer, Senator Rolfes and Representatives Hansen and Appleton for their efforts.
In other KFBP news, a U. S. Fish and Wildlife grant for $1 million towards the shoreline acquisition was announced in late January. Much of the KFBP grant efforts depend on how the State Legislature funds the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) this year. Grants to expand North Kitsap Heritage Park, the shoreline acquisition and the Divide, all depend on WWRP grants. If the complex combination of all grant finding efforts fall into place, $12-15 million towards land acquisition could be available. We're hoping for good news.
But even if all of those efforts are successful, much of the land that is most used for trails is without funding sources. The KFBP coalition has considered tough choices to further the goal of preserving as much land as possible, including some continued timber harvest. In late January, the coalition unanimously adopted the following resolution.
In order to further the goal of preserving the 7,000 acres of the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project for the public forever, we encourage the KFBP Principals to explore the idea of allowing Pope Resources (or its successor) an additional timber harvest rotation to decrease land acquisition costs, while replanting a mix of native species and transitioning to a sustainably managed forest.
The Poulsbo Marathon organizers have once again donated Marathon proceeds, giving NKTA a very generous $3,500 donation! 519 runners, 200 volunteers and 1200 spectators all enjoyed the event.
NKTA is an all volunteer organization. We know that there are many of you trail users and trail lovers out there and this article is our call out to you to get involved. The busy light-filled months are upon us and we have various events that we need volunteers for. If you have been mulling the idea about and pushing it to the back burner: there is no time like the present to jump in.
Come visit our newest trail in North Kitsap Heritage Park. The boardwalk on the Boundary (blue) Trail reroute has been finished and is open. The six-foot wide 60 foot long span across a tributary of Grovers Creek is suitable for walkers, hikers and bikers. This new route at the north end of the Boundary Trail replaces the slippery section of trail down the clay hill and across the wide wet meadow. The old trail has been abandoned and will be restored with native plants.
From the entry kiosk at Miller Bay Rd. follow the Spine Line (yellow) trail 260 feet to signpost #2 and cross the boardwalk to the new trail. This new section of the trail climbs 0.2 mile to join the old upper Boundary trail at the top of the hill.
The Stewardship Group and North Kitsap Trails Association want to thank Aspect Consulting of Seattle and Bainbridge Island for their work on and contributions to the trail and boardwalk. The boardwalk was funded by grants for Puget Sound Energy, the Suquamish Tribe and Kingston Rotary.
Forterra has "exercised" the Option from OPG on the full 6,690 acres, so there is now another year (through 3/28/2014) to complete what land purchases are possible. Though we won't know a final outcome until the end of the Legislative session, at this point there is close to $3 million for Kitsap Forest & Bay Project acquisitions in the three different versions of the state budget. $2.25 million for the Port Gamble Shoreline, $392,000 for North Kitsap Heritage Park Expansion and varying amounts for the Divide property (between NK Heritage Park and Port Gamble-Suquamish road). The outcome for acquiring the Divide/Grovers Creek project (pictured above) isn't as secure. The House budget has the project receiving $1 million but the Senate proposed less overall funding for WWRP programs and currently has $297,000 in their budget for this project. But it is fair to say the Senate budget proposal for WWRP programs is in flux and we won't know the outcome until a budget is finalized.
We are fortunate that our Kitsap delegation members are all strong supporters of Kitsap Forest & Bay Project. Please take the time to thank Senator Christine Rolfes, Representative Drew Hansen and Representative Sherry Appleton.