- Hurrah! North Kitsap Heritage Park Expands! -
Friday Dec. 5, North Kitsap Heritage Park nearly doubled in size thanks to a 366-acre purchase by Kitsap County. "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." Following on the heels of the County's February 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 expansion of the North Kitsap Heritage Park (NKHP) has long been a goal of NKTA and the North Kitsap Heritage Park Stewardship group--this victory is close to the heart for many of us! NKTA extends our heartfelt thanks to Kitsap County and all of those who worked so hard to make this happen. We also offer congratulations and appreciation to NKHP Stewardship Group volunteers who have given so many hours to this park, for all of us to enjoy. (And extra-special thanks to Carolina Veenstra and Dave Haley, volunteers extraordinaire!)
The NKHP Stewardship Group formed in 2009 with the goal to develop trails in the 448 acre park and open it to public access. That goal was achieved in January, 2010. Under the group's steady stewardship the park has expanded parking and added a kiosk, picnic area, signage throughout the park, and most recently a mural. The group plans to bring similar enhancements and new trails to the expansion property. The park is now over 800 acres, and the nearly 2 miles of existing trails in the expansion property bring the total to 8.6 miles of trails in the park.
Acquisition of the expansion property allows plans to go forward for regional and cross-county trails through the park. The trail connecting Kingston and Indianola can be improved, and the Sound to Olympics (STO) Trail through the park connecting Kingston to the Hood Canal Bridge is closer to a reality. The STO is a key part of a cross-state trail planned in the North Kitsap Trails Association's North Kitsap String of Pearls Trail Plan adopted by Kitsap County in 2011.
"This project has been 10 years in the making. 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." Jon Rose, OPG president.
"Outdoor recreation is a big economic driver in Washington state. 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.
The purchase sets the stage for current efforts to buy a pristine bog and stretch of Grover's Creek (directly across Miller Bay Road from the park) and builds momentum to conserve 3,000 acres south of Port Gamble - an endeavor championed by hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and NKTA!
As Commissioner Rob Gelder said, "This is the second of two key closings we've accomplished this year. While it's a time to celebrate, we still have much work to do. We must capitalize on the momentum as we head into the new year."
The North Kitsap Heritage Park Stewardship Group looks forward to continuing work with the county, partner organizations and the many groups and volunteers that have helped make the park safe and accessible for public recreation and enjoyment. The stewardship group meets monthly for trail work on the second Saturday at 9:00 AM at the Miller Bay Road parking area.