If you were planning to attend the meeting of the Banner Forest Stewardship Committee Meeting on Monday, scratch that item off your calendar.
The meeting has been canceled, said Lori Raymaker, park stewardship coordinator, because “we don’t have any updates.”
Work on trails was halted in May, to give the county time to assess whether some of the new trails built by mountain bikers should stay. The county also wanted to allow for a review of the Banner Forest master plan, drafted in 2002.
Since then stewardship meetings, held every other month, have been well attended by mountain bikers and others with an interest in the park.
South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is leading the formation a Banner Forest Watch Group to review the master plan. The 12 volunteer slots will be filled by people representing the range of interests of park users. These include environmental education, flora, forestry, hiking, biking, equestrian, neighbors, wildlife, wetlands, photography, land conservation and recreation. One member of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also will be part of the group.
Garrido on Friday said she’s been delayed in selecting from among the applicants, because the county’s board of commissioners has been conducting budget review meetings with each department for the past two weeks, commanding the board’s attention.
Garrido was a member of the group that drafted the original Banner Forest master plan, and uses the park frequently herself. She said it’s high time to revisit the master plan. It’s also important, she said, that the watch group represent the diverse interests of those who use the park.
The stewardship committee has been meeting and doing work on the park for the past nine years. Garrido appreciates the efforts of park stewards, many of whom are mountain bikers. But, she said, it’s important that work they do adheres to parks department standards for safety and fits with the overall vision for the park.
K.C. Butler, who enjoys trail running and mountain biking, is frustrated by the moratorium on work, including trail maintenance, at the park. Two work parties have been canceled in recent months.
Butler understands the master plan needs to be updated, and he knows some of the trails that have been built will not be permitted to stay. But he, and others, would like to be able to keep open the main trails that not only bikers but hikers and joggers use. Keeping “sight lines” open is important for everyone’s safety, he said.
“We’re not talking about creating anything new,” he said. “We just want to maintain what’s there.”
In Butler’s observation, the diverse users of the park get along well, most of the time. Others he’s talked to, besides mountain bikers, have expressed impatience with the moratorium.
“There’s kind of a huge community of trail users out there. They’re not all mountain bikers,” he said. “It’s kind of a close knit community out there.”