Kitsap mountain bike park makes governor's budget
PORT GAMBLE — The dream of a forested playground for Kitsap’s mountain bikers got a boost in the governor’s budget.
The state budget plan Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled last week includes money to help acquire 200 acres south of Port Gamble for use as a public ride park.
“This is fantastic,” said Brian Kilpatrick, president of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s West Sound chapter. “It saves land (from development) and fills a big need for mountain bikers as well.”
Inslee’s budget would contribute $500,000 of the $1.07 million needed for the Kitsap County Parks Department to purchase the land from Pope Resources. Park officials couldn’t be reached for comment, but they’ve expressed confidence that the rest of the money will come from government grants.
The ride park topped the list of Kitsap projects recommended for funding by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. The WWRP is one of the state’s biggest sources of money to buy ecologically-valuable lands, build parks and develop trails.
The bike alliance has pledged to develop and maintain the trails using volunteer labor and private donations.
Pope-owned timberlands south of Port Gamble have long been a destination for mountain bikers. Large races are held there, including the Stottlemeyer 30/60 Miler, which draws hundreds of riders each May.
The purchase would ensure that a large portion of Pope’s land would be preserved for public use.
The bike alliance envisions various trail types with ramps, berms, high-bank turns and other features that will make the course more challenging than typical trails. The park would have a staging area to support race events.
The park would be patterned after Duthie Hill Park in King County. The 120-acre park rapidly became a regional attraction after it opened two years ago.
Kilpatrick said the Port Gamble ride park would meet strong demand in Kitsap and draw riders from around the region.
“I think we’ll see that evidence in the early stages,” he said.
Kilpatrick said the ride park’s inclusion in the governor’s budget is evidence of his group’s growing clout. Just over a year old, the 300-member West Sound chapter is one of the bike alliance’s largest, and it regularly sponsors group rides, trail maintenance work parties and events like Port Gamble’s Biketoberfest.
The ride park property is part of the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, which seeks to turn almost 7,000 acres of Pope-owned timberland into parks. Already under public ownership are the newly-expanded North Kitsap Heritage Park near Kingston and the 535-acre Port Gamble Shoreline Block Property, which the county acquired in April.
The ride park proposal has the backing of the North Kitsap Trails Association and other outdoor recreation groups because it would draw many riders off other trails. It also might reduce the number of unsanctioned bike trails and challenge courses that have popped up in forested parks across the county, bike alliance members say.
Inslee’s budget recommended partial funding for two other WWRP projects in Kitsap. The proposal to expand the Stavis Natural Resources Conservation Area near Seabeck will probably get half of the $2.06 million requested by its owner, the state Department of Natural Resources. The Great Peninsula Conservancy’s effort to preserve about 100 acres around Grover’s Creek in North Kitsap will get about a third of the $400,000 requested through the WWRP.
A fourth high-ranking project — the 500-foot expansion of Port Orchard’s Bay Street path — was not included in Inslee’s budget.