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!
This years' grant will be divided between several projects:
If you're interested in water trails, you'll be interested in two projects.
Saturday November 1, 9 AM - 2 PM. Plant trees at Kitsap County's newest park. Go home with a Get Dirty T-shirt from REI. Join other rock star volunteers at the new Port Gamble Shoreline Park. We'll start the day by removing invasive plants, and then plant the red cedar saplings that will one day shade this beautiful park.
Port Gamble Shoreline Park is the first land purchased through the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project's effort to conserve nearly 7,000 acres of forestland surrounding Port Gamble Bay. The park includes 1.5 miles of shoreline and more than 500 acres of forest for hiking, cycling, running, horseback riding, and birding. Bring your gloves, shovels, clippers and sturdy shoes. Enjoy the shoreline, the views, some great snacks and the company of other fabulous volunteers!
Details and directions.
Sponsored by REI, Kitsap County Parks, and Great Peninsula Conservancy.
On Wednesday, September 17th, neighbors from across the Kitsap Peninsula are invited to the initial community meeting hosted by the Bainbridge Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee (NMTAC) to help design the second section of the Sound to Olympics regional trail on the Island between Winslow Way and Vineyard Lane--building active transportation connections with all West Sound communities. The meeting will present project context, purpose, and goals; note physical and financial constraints; and receive input from stakeholders on potential elements and alternatives.
The City of Bainbridge Island has been awarded three grants to design and construct more than a mile of the Sound to Olympics Trail from the toll booths at the Washington State Ferries Terminal up to High School Road--thus connecting the entire Winslow business district, civic centers, neighborhoods, schools, ferries and Kitsap Transit with a bicycle and pedestrian spine route along SR 305. The first two of three funded segments will be built in 2015, connecting up to the existing non-motorized bridge which crosses the Winslow Ravine along the east side of the highway at the Vineyard Lane development.
West Sound Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (EMBA) BiketoberFest on the Port Gamble trails. Night ride w/ campfire, SuperD race, Poker Run, 7 Bike Shops, 7 Breweries, Demos, Games, Prizes and a Bike Raffle!
Location: Uplands trailhead, off hwy 104 just south of Port Gamble.
BiketoberFest is great for families AND given the memorable mud of 2013, we're sure there is guaranteed perfect weather this year!
Love to Kayak? Join us September 13 from 9 am - 2 pm. Here's a chance to spend a day with other rock star volunteers improving one of Kitsap Peninsula Water Trail's beautiful resting spots! Indianola Waterfront Preserve is used by paddlers from all over, as a stop on Washinton State's first National Water Trail. To help paddlers gain better access to the park's lovely upland trail, volunteers will help construct 115 feet of boardwalk on the estuary and reroute trail. Enjoy a tailgate picnic lunch courtesy of REI.