Four Kitsap projects top state outdoor recreation funding list
Four Kitsap projects have risen to the top of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s funding list, making it likely that local conservation and trail-building efforts will get more than $1 million next year.
The WWRP is one of the state’s biggest sources of money to buy critical habitats, build parks and trails, and protect farmland. Of the more than 215 proposals submitted for funding, 11 came from Kitsap. A ranking process recently identified four Kitsap projects as high priorities for full funding.
The Kitsap projects are:
Stavis Natural Resources Conservation Area expansion: The state Department of Natural Resources could receive up to $2.06 million to help expand this Seabeck-area conservation area by 436 acres. Stavis has one of the oldest forest stands on the Kitsap Peninsula and its streams serve as habitat for fall chum and coho salmon. DNR plans to develop trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities at Stavis.
Port Gamble mountain bike park: The Kitsap County parks department has asked for $500,000 to acquire 200 acres of timberland for use as a mountain bike riding course. Owned by Pope Resources, the site is adjacent to other properties that form the larger Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, which aims to preserve about 7,000 acres in North Kitsap. Local mountain bike groups have pledged to use mostly volunteer labor to develop a series of trails and obstacle courses.
Grovers Creek acquisition: The Great Peninsula Conservancy hopes to use a $400,000 WWRP grant to help protect highly-valued fish and bird habitat between Indianola and Kingston. Included in the preserved area are more than a mile of Grovers Creek and rare stands of Sitka spruce.
Port Orchard’s Bay Street path: The city of Port Orchard wants $106,000 to build 500 feet of a 1.5-mile pedestrian and bike path taking shape along the town’s waterfront.
Lower-ranking Kitsap projects that will probably receive no WWRP funding include a 38-acre expansion of Manchester State Park, improvements for Bainbridge Island’s Waterfront Park and the renovation of Waterman Pier in South Kitsap.
The WWRP’s ranked list has $97 million worth of grant requests. That would cover about half of the more than 215 requests the WWRP received.
“Kitsap fares pretty well on the list,” said Frances Chiem, a spokesperson for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, the group that advocates for WWRP funding.
The WWRP received 17 percent more requests than the last biennium, Chiem said.
The list now goes to the governor’s office for inclusion in the 2015-2017 capital construction budget.
During the last biennium, the WWRP request amounted to $90 million. The governor and the Legislature whittled the amount down to about $65 million.
If the current funding request is reduced by an equal amount — about 25 percent — the four priority projects in Kitsap should still receive full or partial funding, according to the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, which developed several WWRP funding scenarios.
Thanks to especially high rankings, the Port Gamble bike park and the Bay Street path would receive their full request even if the WWRP’s funding drops as low as $60 million. The Stavis and Grovers Creek proposals would get nothing if funding falls to $60 million.
The Grovers Creek purchase would get just $27,000 if funding falls to $70 million and nothing if falls to $60 million. The Stavis expansion would get $1.07 million — about half the requested amount — if funding comes in at $80 million.