September 8, 2022
Phase one of three planned phases successfully closes, as the campaign aims to raise $500,000 by Oct. 31
PORT GAMBLE, Wash.– Forterra, in partnership with the original Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition, launches a community fundraising campaign to purchase 756 acres of timber rights in Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park. Forterra and Kitsap County have successfully closed the first of three total transactions, transferring 82 acres of mature forest stands to Kitsap County in the northern section of the Park along the envisioned Sound to Olympics Trail. The campaign aims to raise a total of $500,000 by Oct. 31, 2022. Phase two is now underway.
Forterra, Kitsap County and Rayonier have entered into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire up to 756 acres of high priority timber rights, featuring important cultural, ecological, and recreational values. When Kitsap County acquired the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, the community raised the necessary funds to acquire the land, but not the timber rights on the 2,690-acre “Upland Forest.”
Pope Resources, now part of Rayonier, retained timber rights through 2042 on certain forested areas in the Park where harvesting of trees could be accomplished safely and sustainably while allowing recreation and other public benefits to coexist. To date, Rayonier has harvested about 650 acres under the terms of the original agreement. The recently signed purchase and sale agreement for timber rights could transfer 38 percent of the remaining timber rights to Kitsap County if fully funded.
“This is an opportunity to further support Kitsap County’s goals, and conserve critical forests with recreational and cultural value. By working closely with the County and our community partners, we continue to make a positive impact on our communities,” said Bill Monahan, Director, Western Forest Resources with Rayonier.
The campaign targets critical forest areas near valued trail routes. Securing these mature forest stands through the purchase of timber rights assures that mature forests will exist in the near-term at these important locations.
Increasing safeguarded mature timber provides meaningful value, recognizing the ancestral land for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the Suquamish Tribe.
“For the Port Gamble S’Klallam, the protection of natural resources has always been a priority. It drives every decision we make, from planned development to fisheries management. Over the last decade, we have valued the opportunity to partner with the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition to achieve this goal around Noo-Kayet Bay (the S’Klallam name for Port Gamble Bay). It cannot be overstated how important the community has been to the success of these efforts and I hope they will support this latest campaign, which will help us keep mature trees standing strong to benefit habitat, environmental quality and recreation,” said Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Chairman Sullivan.
“The Suquamish Tribe supports the protection the Port Gamble forest lands for the health of the greater ecosystem. A healthy forest is important for improving water quality, preserving wildlife habitat and protecting plants important for food, materials and medicine,” said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Forsman. “These lands have profound historic and cultural importance to the Suquamish people and are a source of fisheries we have relied on since time immemorial. Climate change and the pressures of increased population are threats to our lands and waters, making this effort an essential investment in the health and resilience of our region.”
In addition, it enhances a much beloved recreational space for hikers, joggers, birders, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
“By acquiring the 756 acres of timber rights, we accelerate Kitsap County’s planning goal to transform the park into a more natural, resilient and diverse forest ecosystem that people enjoy, and where wildlife thrive,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Robert Gelder. “The success of the previous Kitsap Forest and Bay campaign shows the power communities have when they come together. That same energy is needed to purchase these timber rights and conserve additional critical stands of trees.”
Between 2014 and 2017, Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish Tribes, Kitsap County and community groups successfully preserved 3,500 acres of forest with recreational, ecological and cultural value. The same level of support is necessary to conserve more stands of trees and continue to enhance the benefits of the forest through the purchase of timber rights.
“Conserving our forests is a critical tool in the fight against the climate crisis and protecting our high quality of life for all,” said Joe Sambataro, managing director of conservations transactions with Forterra. “We now need the community to come together and raise the necessary funds to secure all 756 acres of forest stands.”
Transferring these trees to Kitsap County will enable the County to maintain these stands as healthy forests for climate, community and conservation.
Donations to the community campaign can be made at https://bit.ly/portgambleforest. Larger direct donations can be made by mailing a check to Forterra, P.O. Box 4189, Seattle, WA 98194 and noting “Port Gamble.” Funds raised during the campaign, including those by Our Forest Fund, will be matched eight times by county, state and anonymous donor matching funds. Donor dollars go directly towards the purchase price of the timber rights.
For more information visit https://forterra.org/our-work/port-gamble-community-campaign-faq/.
Managing Director of Media Relations and Storytelling
Kitsap County Commissioners’ Office
Forterra is an unconventional land trust that works across Washington’s communities and landscapes, from the ranches and shrub-steppe of the Yakima basin, to the estuaries, farms and forests of Washington’s coast, reaching more than 100 counties, cities, towns and rural communities. Working cooperatively with people and nature, Forterra drives land stewardship, management and planning; innovative programs and policies; farming and forestry approaches; community ownership opportunities; and development solutions.