Pope Resources will be doing some timber thinning starting probably in March and running throughout the end of the year. They'll do a combination of pre-commercial thinning (cutting really small trees & leaving them in the forest - approximately 375 acres) and commercial thinning (thinning medium trees that have some harvest value - approximately 500 acres). There will be rotating trail closures where they'll be doing the work. Just like when the lettuce in your garden is too close together and you pull up the skinny ones to give the others room to grow, a timber farm does the same thing but their crop is bigger and takes 40 years, not 4 months to grow!
Here's a map of what's planned, if you click on it you can see more detail. The exact dates of trail and trail head closures aren't known yet but we'll have updates on our website and Pope Resources will have the most current information, including when specific trails and trailheads will be closed and when they are reopened on their website.
Most of the work is in the south half of the trails, so if you arrive at your favorite trailhead and it's closed, head north to another open trailhead and explore some north end trails. Maps are at every trailhead, so take one with you if you're exploring new territory. Trail access will continue to be permitted in areas not subject to active harvesting operations.
The timber crews are scheduling their work around all of the trail events, so those will proceed as planned. And the Uplands Trailhead and the new County Shoreline Park trailhead will remain open the whole time. The trailheads at Stottelmeyer and Port Gamble Road will have some total closures, and there will be rotating trail closures in the area south of the Shoreline Park and "Downhell".
Remember, 86% of the Port Gamble trails are owned by Pope Resources and we're guests on their private tree farm. If the sign says trail closed, it really means it, for your safety and those of their contractors. The work is expected to be finished by the end of 2015, so don't worry, your favorite trail will be open again soon. Please stay safe and stay out of their way!
If you care about trails and love the Port Gamble trails like we do, please come help spruce up the trail heads. On Saturday morning, February 21 NKTA is teaming up with our partners Kitsap County Parks, EMBA-West Sound and Great Peninsula Conservancy for one big Port Gamble trail head cleanup day. We'll meet at the Uplands parking area (closest to Port Gamble) at 8:30 and from there spread out to the different trail heads. Unfortunately, over the years people have dumped garbage at the trailheads, and there's even been a lost bike helmet or two. Yes, we'll be picking up garbage but we promise it will be fun, and afterwards we'll have a BBQ and celebrate the good work we've done. We'll mostly be near the roads (so probably not great for little kids), bagging and loading stuff right onto the trucks to be hauled away. Bring your leather gloves and your old clothes. The rest of us will bring the garbage bags, the trucks and the food!
Also, we need your help keeping an eye on the trail heads. If you see someone dumping garbage or driving doughnuts in a parking area, please call the police. We all want our trailheads clean and safe, so let's team up. Just like on the ferries, if you "See something, Say something!"
A place that will awe you! The next piece in the Kitsap Forest and Bay puzzle, will be Great Peninsula Conservancy's acquisition of the 270-acre Grovers Creek Preserve. This special place has been hidden from view, protected by a matrix of wetlands. It has trees so big and flowers so small, it simply takes your breath away. And it's in the middle of the entire Kitsap Forest and Bay Project. Saving Grovers Creek Preserve will connect wildlife habitat, forestlands and trails. The Sound to Olympics trail will skirt the wetland and is planned to connect North Kitsap Heritage Park, Kingston and Indianola to the Port Gamble trails. Public grants and private donations totaling $1.775 million have been raised, but $325,000 more will be needed by May 2015.
"Grovers Creek Preserve is a magical place of big trees, bears and beavers that reminds us of the Kitsap Peninsula of long ago," commented Sandra Staples-Bortner, Executive Director of Great Peninsula Conservancy. "We are delighted to be working with the many project partners to save this land for all time."
Grovers Creek Preserve is literally across Miller Bay road from the recently expanded 800-acre North Kitsap Heritage Park. This is hoped to be the third acquisition in the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project, a community-driven initiative to protect thousands of acres of forests, wetlands and shoreline for public access and wildlife habitat, and to secure miles of trails connecting to a cross-state trail system.
"It's a case where the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts," said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder. "Our investments will enhance our economy, ensure our quality of life and protect the habitat we all value."
November 1, was a huge day for REI supported stewardship projects in North Kitsap. Three great projects in one busy, busy, busy day!
Kingston Village Green volunteers built a new trail by the Kingston Green, over one hundred volunteers helped remove invasive species and plant trees on the Port Gamble shoreline, and Brett Knutson and his busy crew of volunteers built a new trail in Raab Park in Poulsbo. Raab Park is one of the most active parks in Poulsbo but hasn't had a walking route at the main entry--mom's with toddlers and strollers have had to walk in the road. Brett planned the new trail as part of his Eagle Scout Project. He organized volunteers, recruited donations and along with his family pulled off the entire construction in one big day of work. Good for Brett-we're glad he chose NKTA and REI to partner with on his great Eagle Scout project. REI funded the materials and donated those cool T shirts!
And tools, tools, tools! To support volunteer stewardship trail projects, REI has provided funds for an array tools! NKTA teamed up with our partners at the NK Heritage Park, EMBA West Sound and even Poulsbo's Fish Park volunteers to come up with a "most wanted" list. So 2015 should be a busy year to put all those great tools to work building and maintaining trails. We can't wait to get those shiny new tools nice and dirty!
The folks at Slippery Pig Brewery sure know how to make fundraising fun! Dave and Shawna Lambert, the owners, have long supported our local trails. Dave had dreamed of creating a "Men of Slippery Pig" calendar (seriously) and he and his friends made it happen. We were delighted when they announced they'd donate the proceeds to NKTA! The calendar was unveiled at special release party Nov. 16th, and they sold out! More calendars have been printed and are available for $20 at the Slippery Pig Brewery, next to Mora ice cream in downtown Poulsbo. The calendar is only mildly inappropriate, but extremely funny! It features friends of Dave's, not male models but regular guys. We'd like to thank Dave, Shawna and the brave Men of the Slippery Pig, who posed in the calendar!
2015 will be a crucial year to secure land in the Port Gamble Uplands Block. We are working hard to save the remaining 3300 acres of open space and trails in Port Gamble as well additional land in the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project. NKTA is also working on the purchase of a major regional trail link, to connect the Port Gamble Trails to NK Heritage Park, Kingston, Suquamish and Indianola.
NKTA has been fortunate to obtain generous project sponsorships. This year REI even funded tools to help our volunteers. But even an all volunteer non-profit where everyone works for free, has operating expenses; like our website, insurance & government filing fees. Trail projects on private property (like Millie's and most Port Gamble trails) are also tough to find Project sponsorship funds for. Next year, it's especially crucial to have non-project specific funds available to follow through on our plans to purchase a key trail link. NKTA operates on a shoestring budget, so any donation helps! Please help us in achieving these very important projects!
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We've had some huge victories to celebrate in 2014!
There is even more to do in 2015. Some of NKTA's 2015 work will include:
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.
Kitsap County applied for three grants to acquire land for Port Gamble Trails this year. Work began in March and final presentations were made in August. NKTA and volunteers worked hard to help. Thanks again to Kitsap Commissioners Gelder, Streissguth and Garrido, and to Pope Resources who gave us this opportunity.
Our community rallied to help, giving us 26 letters of support! For the final presentations, community members from NKTA, EMBA West Sound, Kitsap Audubon, Kitsap Forest and Bay and the County Parks Board, all traveled to Olympia to show support. But the prize goes our local high school mountain bike teams and coach; seven dedicated teen mountain cyclists, representing EMBA West Sound, met us at 6:30 a.m. to travel to Olympia! Wow, impressive!!
The grant process is highly competitive, one category had 72 projects competing for funding. Recreation and trails projects are especially tough to find grants for--there is simply more money to preserve sensitive habitat; shorelines, riparian corridors and salmon habitat. Projects have now been ranked, and unfortunately just one of our three grants was ranked high enough to expect funding. The Sound to Olympics Trail grant was ranked #1 in the state for both community support and threat (potential of losing the project, if unfunded), but ranked behind two huge projects (together requesting $6 million). We'll know the final outcome mid 2015, after the state budget is approved.
The grant that is ranked the most favorably (area in red on the map), is $500,000 to buy land for a 200 acre Mountain Bike Ride Park. A "Ride Park" is similar to ski runs, with bike runs designed for beginning, intermediate and advanced level riders. Our partners, West Sound Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance plan to invest lots of volunteer hours to turn that dream into reality. Providing the right location for the most active recreation, (further away from sensitive areas) is a goal that many of our partners support. There is also an extra challenge; the federal grant we hoped to provide the required 50% match ($500,000), is unlikely to be funded.
About 3/4 of the Port Gamble trails and land still have no identified funding source. With 534 acres of shoreline park, the County owns about 14% of the 3850 acres. With favorable ranking to buy half of a 200 acre Ride Park, and the expectation of $770K from DOE for land, the County still lacks funds for over 3/4 of the Port Gamble land. The next opportunity to apply for state grants is 2016.
Kitsap was well represented at the State Trails Conference last weekend. NKTA and EMBA West Sound chapter teamed up to present on the Port Gamble Trails; Trails to transform a community. Visit Kitsap, NKTA and the National Park Service teamed up to present on Water Trails. The two day conference provided lots of learning and networking opportunities, and it was great to have so much interest in our Kitsap projects. Eight of us from Kitsap attended the conference, including Kitsap's volunteer coordinator Lori Raymaker.
New maps are installed on the trails and at trailheads, and are in the brochures at the trail heads. The new 534 acre park has 1.5 miles of shoreline (not very accessible yet) and can be accessed from the Bay View trailhead, about a mile south of Port Gamble on highway 104. There are no trails or parking lots on the water side of the road so please be considerate of the neighbors and don't head down their driveways. So 534 acres saved! The next challenge is the remaining 3316 acres!