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.
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.
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.
Faced with the strong likelihood of losing much of the trails, and given the land has been used for timber harvest for nearly 160 years, NKTA's board unanimously confirmed the resolution. We believe some hard choices now, will increase the land and trails that will be enjoyed by future generations.
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.
The National Park Service chose Kitsap's Water Trail as Trail of the Month in a national newsletter, saying: "This Pacific Northwest water trail gives boaters access to some spectacular marine life and environments, scenic natural beauty, and historic port towns. The trail was formally dedicated at an annual tourism paddle event this summer following release of a trails map showing routes and access points to the county's nearly 300 miles of shoreline. The National Park Service worked with the North Kitsap Trails Association to develop a trails plan that was approved by the County Commissioners in late 2011. Grab your paddle and hit the trail!"
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