Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
Kitsap County Parks and Recreation will use this grant to acquire up to 30 acres to add to the 618-acre Illahee Preserve Heritage Park (pending a 25 acre Phase 1 late funded purchase in 2023). The properties are in the Central Kitsap Urban Growth Area (UGA), bordering the City of Bremerton, and in the heart of the most densely populated area of Kitsap County.The Illahee Preserve is a mature forest with associated riparian habitat including unique natural features, such as deeply incised canyons, with areas so pristine and wild it has been called “The Lost Continent”. The Preserve includes a nearly self-contained salmonid watershed (Illahee Creek), a headwaters wetland complex (Steele Creek), a wildlife preserve, two former homesteads (with the Phase 1 homestead purchase including a pond and the South Fork of Illahee Creek). Public assess is provided by a system of non-motorized, active and passive use trails, serviced by trail head parking, kiosks, a picnic shelter, and interpretive signage.Phase 2 will save an additional prime wildlife habitat, which includes ~0.4 miles of stream and riparian habitat, and wildlife corridor properties connecting the Preserve with Illahee State Park, and will bring the Illahee Preserve, a Kitsap County Heritage Park, from 93% to within 98% of its ultimate acquisition goals.