(Map below post)
Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Departmentparks director Jim Dunwiddie told the crowd of more than 70, is maintaining the halt on any trail building until the county can do a complete trails assessment. Complaints about excessive trail building led parks officials to that decision. Conversely those who build the trails, mostly mountain bike groups, complain that some horseback riders travel the trails when they are too soft, chewing up the earth and creating hazards.
Dunwiddie said his department will focus particularly on the 139 acres managed by the Great Peninsula Conservancy. Kate Kuhlman of the conservancy told the crowd that the forest is “a bowl” with the wetland — a rare “bog and fen” wetland at the bottom, likely recharging an aquifer. Kuhlman also mentioned the wildlife supported by the area deeded in perpetuity to the conservancy’s care.
Dunwiddie said trails in the conservancy acreage have “exceeded the capacity” of the area. Kuhlman said the possibility of bikes or horses on some trails in the conservancy acreage is not off the table, but for now officials will try to enforce a strictly foot-traffic-only rule that’s been in place for years. Dunwiddie said it’s important to come up with a comprehensive trails plan as part of a re-tooling of the park master plan.
Dunwiddie would prefer not to have to segregate users, but there’s the possibility some trails could be closed for some uses, at least at certain times of the year. All that’s yet to be seen, and the county isn’t going to be able to provide any quick answers, due to lack of staffing, he said.
Dunwiddie was glad to see so many people there who care about the park. “We need your eyes and ears. We need you to help make this happen,” he said.
In the past, commissioners appointed people to the stewardship committee, but now anyone who shows up to meetings or work parties is deputized, Dunwiddie said. Lori Raymaker, stewardship coordinator, said people with various skills and interests are needed, fro, those willing to do trail maintenance to folks who can take notes at meetings or, in the future, work on fund-raisers.
Jerry Whitlow, a horseback rider, said he’s tried to sign up for the stewardship committee before but was never called back. Others reported similar experiences. Dunwiddie, with his wry humor, said, “Well, there’s a new sheriff in town.”
The next Stewardship meeting is Aug. 2 at the Long Lake Community Center.
To volunteer or find out more about the stewardship committee, call Lori Raymaker at (360) 337-5372
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