After shoreline deal, what's next?
Preserving forestland might mean cutting the trees.
That’s not really the paradox it seems, at least regarding the land the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project is working to acquire.
That land is five separate tracts owned by Pope Resources totaling nearly 7,000 acres, and the first purchase agreement between the company and Forterra (which handled negotiations for the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project) was signed in late May to buy a critical piece. The parties agreed to a $4.6 million sale of the 535-acre block that stretches for 1.5 miles along the Port Gamble Bay shoreline south of the former sawmill site that is being cleaned up.
That was an achievement celebrated by the broad range of stakeholders involved in the six-year effort to find a way to buy and conserve Pope’s land, which has long been accessible to the public for recreation.
However, the next step may be the most crucial to achieving the goal of preserving forestland and maintaining public access to it for events such as mountain bike races that are becoming a significant tourism draw for the Kitsap Peninsula.
Conservation funding breakdown
In addition to the Port Gamble Bay shoreline block and the 3,300-acre forestland block targeted for purchase in the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, there are three other available tracts of Pope Resources land that the coalition would like to acquire for conservation.
There’s a 366-acre block for expansion of the county’s North Kitsap Heritage Park near Kingston. Just west of the park is the 664-acre Divide Block. The proposed route of the Sound to Olympics Trail goes through both of those blocks and continues through the Uplands Block and Port Gamble Shoreline Block.
The other tract is more removed from the rest of Pope’s land. The Hansville Block is an area of 1,764 acres north of the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation on the east side of Port Gamble Bay.
The grant funds paying for the $4.6 million purchase of the 535-acre shoreline property include:
- National Coastal Wetlands Program — $1 million
- Washington State Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account — $1 million
- Washington State Wildlife and Recreation Program, Water Access category — $1.25 million
- Washington State Department of Ecology — $2 million (or remainder)
The rest of the pending funding the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition expects to be confirmed for land acquisition includes:
- Washington State Department of Ecology — $5 million
- Department of Defense Tribal Treaty Mitigation (through Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe) — $3 million
- Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, Riparian Category — $1 million (for Divide Block)
- Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration — $350,000 (for Divide Block)
- Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, Urban Wildlife category — $392,000 (for Heritage Park Addition Block)
- US Forest Service Community and Open Space Program — $400,000 (for Heritage Park Addition Block)
- Salmon Recovery Funding Board — $100,000 (for Heritage Park Addition Block)
Read the complete story at the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal.