November 18, 2022
Phase two of three planned phases successfully close, final phase now underway
PORT GAMBLE, Wash.– Forterra, in partnership with Our Forest Fund and the original Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition, launched a community fundraising campaign to complete the purchase of 756 acres of timber rights in Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park. The collaborative effort successfully raised $500,000 to protect the remaining timber rights. As of November 15, the campaign has closed on the first two of three total transactions with $3.925M in county, state, and anonymous donor funds, transferring 687 acres of mature forest stands to Kitsap County. Phase three will close by December 15 with the remaining 69 acres of timber rights.
The campaign launched on August 15 and closed on Oct. 31, raising the full funding amount in just 11 weeks. Nearly 450 donors and dozens of volunteers are to credit for the success of this campaign.
Forterra and Kitsap County entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Pope Resources, now part of Rayonier, to acquire up to 756 acres of high priority timber rights, featuring important cultural, ecological, and recreational values. When Kitsap County acquired the final half of the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park in 2017, the community raised the necessary funds to acquire the land, but not the timber rights on the 2,690-acre “Upland Forest.”
Rayonier, retained timber rights through 2042 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. Upon closing of Phase 3, 38 percent of remaining timber rights will be transferred to Kitsap County.
“It never ceases to amaze me just how generous our community truly is. To rally together in such a short amount of time, to not only meet the goal, but to truly make possible the long-term conservation of additional trees within the park.” said Kitsap County Commissioner Robert Gelder. “This acquisition will 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. My heartfelt thanks go to each and every donor!”
The campaign targeted critical forest areas around valuable wetland habitat, older mature forest, existing trails, and the envisioned Sound to Olympics trail. Securing these forest stands through the purchase of timber rights assures that mature forests will exist in the near-term at these important locations.
Safeguarding mature timber provides meaningful cultural value, recognizing the ancestral land for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the Suquamish Tribe.
In addition, it enhances a much beloved recreational space for hikers, joggers, birders, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
“We are immensely grateful for the generosity and vision of the community, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, several family foundations, and county & state officials,” said Alia Pirzada, Co-chair of Our Forest Fund, along with Kim Greenwood and Lynn Schorn. “Clearly people place a high priority on conserving forests as crucial to wildlife habitat, quality of life, and mitigating the climate crisis.”
“The community rallied for the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park in such a short time,” said Joe Sambataro, managing director of conservation transactions with Forterra. “All donations, big and small, collectively added up to hit our goal.”
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. This successful 2022 effort enables the County to maintain and enhance these stands as healthy forests for climate, community and conservation.
Managing Director of Media Relations and Storytelling
Kitsap County Commissioners’ Office
Our Forest Fund
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.