North Kitsap Heritage Park has nearly doubled in size thanks to a 366-acre purchase by Kitsap County. Following on the heels of the County’s February 2014 purchase of 535 acres and 1.5 miles of forested shoreline on Port Gamble Bay, the Park’s expansion is another step in the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project, a community-driven initiative to conserve as much as 6,700 acres in North Kitsap Peninsula.
The purchase on Dec. 4, 2014 sets the stage for current philanthropic efforts to buy a pristine bog and stretch of Grover’s Creek and builds momentum to conserve 3,000 acres harboring a dense network of trails south of Port Gamble—an endeavor championed by hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.
“As an avid mountain biker, I enthusiastically support the growing momentum for conserving great habitat lands and a terrific trail network. As a resident of Kitsap County and as an executive in the outdoor industry, I applaud the County’s effort in recognizing the positive economic impact that a great trail network can bring to a community,” said Outdoor Research President Ken Meidell. “Outdoor recreation is a big economic driver in Washington state and these recreational assets are the infrastructure that drives the businesses that support the users of these lands.”
Kitsap’s forest lands, marketed as “Seattle’s backyard,” are enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts from across the Puget Sound region.
Otherwise at risk of conversion into sprawling residential development, the Heritage Park expansion will provide a critical link in the County’s popular regional trail system known as the “String of Pearls.” Its conservation will help protect the local community’s drinking water, wildlife habitat and the headwaters of two priority salmon-bearing streams, Grover’s Creek and Carpenter Creek.
“Expansion of North Kitsap Heritage Park has been a community goal for a decade,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder. “This is a critical step in protecting the forested character of North Kitsap and the incredible trail network that defines our community.”
More than 5 million dollars has been invested in the North Kitsap Peninsula so far from national, state, private and local funding sources. The Heritage Park expansion is one of the first in the nation to be awarded a grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest Program. In addition to this federal funding source, Kitsap County utilized funds from the sale of its Place of the Bear property along with grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and Salmon Recovery Funding Board to expand the Park. An additional 7 million dollars are pending for future acquisitions within the larger Kitsap Forest and Bay Project.
“This is a cultural sustainability and economic development story as much as it is a conservation story,” noted Michelle Connor, executive vice president of Forterra. “That’s what has led to the resounding financial support from all quarters for the purchase of these forest lands.”
Forterra partnered with Kitsap County on the acquisition of the North Kitsap Heritage Park expansion since signing a purchase option agreement with the landowner Pope Resources in 2011, giving the Kitsap Forest and Bay partners time to raise funds and complete the due diligence necessary to move toward successful conservation. Forterra has supported the Project on a strategic level as well through project partner coordination, grant writing and engaging elected leadership at the state and federal level.
Olympic Property Group (OPG), a subsidiary of Pope Resources, has managed the property as timberland for decades. OPG has historically allowed public access on this property which generated an enthusiastic group of volunteers who maintain a vast trail network.
“This project has been 10 years in the making,” said Jon Rose, OPG president. “It is through the persistence and resolve of Kitsap County partners that we have been able to make such headway and why as a landowner we’ve been willing to stick with the conservation effort for the long haul.”
The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project is an effort by Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy, Pope Resources and many community partners to conserve 6,700 acres of forest and shoreline owned by Pope Resources around Port Gamble Bay on the western shore of Washington’s Puget Sound.
About Kitsap County
Kitsap County, located between the Olympic Peninsula and the Greater-Seattle area, has a long history of open space acquisition and stewardship. Currently, over 6,300 acres is held as park and open space land throughout the county. These include multiple large-scale heritage parks as well as several regional parks providing public access, trail systems and use of its beautiful shorelines. Kitsap’s Forest Stewardship Program is working to manage these and other public lands for long-term forests, transforming Douglas fir plantations into diverse tree stands with potential as healthy old-growth in the future. For more information, visit kitsapgov.com.
Forterra is a visionary and effective leader for regional sustainability with a 100-year vision and action plan for the region. To date we’ve permanently conserved 238,000 acres of land and improved the quality of life for people in over 80 communities. With a successful 25 year history of solving enormous regional challenges through a land-focused and big tent approach, today Forterra is taking stock of the rapidly changing conditions in the region’s ecosystems, communities and economies and will produce an updated game plan for a healthy and resilient region for all in May 2015. More at forterra.org.
About Pope Resources
Pope Resources, a publicly traded limited partnership, and its subsidiaries Olympic Resource Management and Olympic Property Group, own or manage 193,000 acres of timberland and development property in Washington, Oregon, and California. We also manage, co-invest in, and consolidate three private equity timber funds, for which we earn management fees. These funds provide an efficient means of investing our own capital in Pacific Northwest timberland while earning fees from managing the funds for third-party investors. The company and its predecessor companies have owned and managed timberlands and development properties for more than 160 years. Additional information on the company can be found at poperesources.com.