BI parks supporters produce fly-over video of Sakai property

Backers of a Bainbridge parks bond have produced a video that shows – from land and air – the Winslow property the $6 million bond would purchase.

The video starts with a drive down Winslow Way and then up Madison to the 23-acre property. About mid-way through the video, a sweeping shot from an aerial drone pans left from the controversial Visconsi development site to the proposed parkland. Known as the Sakai property, it’s one of the last large undeveloped properties in Winslow.

Buying it would preserve much of it as public open space. A 10-acre portion along Madison Avenue could be developed with park amenities. If the bond’s approved, the Bainbridge park district would begin a public process to decide how to use the property.

For more about the campaign in support of the bond, head over to parkforwinslow.com

The bond’s ballots are set to be mailed to Bainbridge voters tomorrow. They’re due back on Feb. 10.

A grander vision for Illahee Preserve

IllaheePreserve

I wrote last week about the effort to expand Illahee Preserve by 36 acres. For the preserve’s advocates, it’s a vitally important expansion on property that has long been eyed for development.

The Illahee Forest Preserve stewardship group hopes to raise $850,000 by mid-August to buy the property, known as Timbers Edge.

Timbers Edge is only one of several expansions envisioned by the group.

The map below shows the already-acquired portions in dark and lighter green (the county-owned golf course is included but it is not managed as part of the preserve). The red areas are near-term acquisitions and the yellow parcels are longer-term goals.

IllaheePreserveMap

Mr. Illahee himself, Jim Aho (that’s him up top), gave me a comprehensive tour of the preserve and some of the expansion properties on the map. Jim is an Illahee port commissioner and a key member of the Illahee Community Club and the Illahee Forest Preserve group. He also has a frequently-updated blog all about Illahee.

Illahee Drive culvert
Illahee Drive culvert

He showed me two properties that may be even more important than Timbers Edge. The properties, which you can see on the map stretching east from the preserve to the shore of Port Orchard Bay, could play a critical role in boosting Illahee Creek’s salmon habitat. Jim said the owner is a strong preserve supporter and may be willing to sell at some point.

The creek’s been dramatically altered in recent years by an increasing rate of stormwater runoff. High flows channeled from housing and commercial areas have straightened the creek’s course, making it less inviting for fish, which favor creeks with bends and pools.

Silt buildup has raised the creekbed so high that the culvert under Illahee Drive is almost buried, as you can see in the above photo.

Another key piece for an expanded preserve is red rectangle property between the preserve and the golf course. It’s still privately owned  and was developed decades ago as a mobile home park. Its gravel access road runs through the preserve from Riddell Road. Kitsap County plans to buy up the dozen or so individual parcels as they become available. Aho said the first sale of a one-acre piece is likely to happen this year.

Because this area is already developed, it could eventually have what park managers call an “active” use, like a ballfields or a mountain bike course.

Photos: Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

Burglars find little to steal at Great Peninsula Conservancy office

GPCLogo Kitsap’s nonprofit land conservancy was among several places burglarized in downtown Bremerton last week.

Great Peninsula Conservancy might seem like an odd target, and it appears the burglars were disappointed by what they found in the Pacific Avenue office. Several other offices were ransacked in the same four-story building, which sits at the corner of Pacific and Fifth Street. A tavern a few blocks away was also broken into. Bremerton reporter Josh Farley wrote a story shortly after the burglaries were reported on Friday.

Losses were minimal at GPC, although several doors to individual offices were pried open, damaging the doors and door frames.

“All they took was maybe $45 or $50 in petty cash,” said Sandra Staples-Bortner, GPC’s executive director. “They used crowbars to get into all our offices so the (door) framework was damaged a little bit. One office had things thrown around and messed up. They didn’t take hardly anything.”

GPC has preserved more than 5,700 acres and is helping to lead the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, which aims to set aside nearly 7,000 acres in North Kitsap.

Bike-riding Seahawk hits Internet meme status

David J. Phillip/AP Photo
David J. Phillip/AP Photo

If there’s one thing the Seahawks’ win over the Packers proves (besides the magical ramifications of a municipal ban on cheese), it’s that the Internet loves football players on bikes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (with bad Wi-Fi), you’ve already seen the photos and video replays of Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett celebrating with an impromptu bike ride around CenturyLink’s turf field.

“I bike all the time,” Bennett told reporters after the game. “I’m a real biker. I’ve got three bikes at my house, so I was just having fun.”

In no time at all, the Internet responded with dozens of video remixes and photoshops.

The Seahawks themselves were quick on the bandwagon with this video tweet:

And here’s Bennett spliced with a few movie icons:

Bennett commandeered his wheels from an on-duty Seattle bike cop. No foul, said the Seattle PD in a tweet:

Funny stuff, but the next one will break your heart. It’s a video of a little Packers fan crying after the game. And then he sees Bennett on the bike…

Washington State Parks rolls out improved Discover Pass design

New pass design.
New pass design.

Washington State Parks plans to introduce a new Discover Pass that’s sturdier and more recognizable than the one they’ve issued in recent years.

The new pass, which will start appearing around the state this month, will be printed in color on a durable synthetic paper that state recreation officials say will bring “an exciting look and feel to the Discover Pass, while solving three problems with the current product.”

According to a memo to park staff, the new pass will be less confusing, more durable and cheaper to produce.

Its new “green nature scene” design will distinguish it from the yellow vehicle pass used by the state Dept. of Fish Wildlife. The synthetic material is tear-resistant and will not curl or fade over a year of use. Once it expires, you can recycle it. It’ll be a bit cheaper than the passes parks produces on Tyvek material.

“The new pass has a fresh look and feel we think customers will appreciate,” the memo states.

The pass will be issued this month starting with orders made through the Department of Licensing. The pass’ more than 600 licensed retail outlets, including the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Silverdale and the Bremerton and Port Orchard Fred Meyer stores, will begin selling the new pass in February.

Search for missing Olympic National Park hiker reaches Day 4

hiker
Griffin

The search for a hiker who went missing near Olympic Hot Springs reached a fourth day on today.

Searchers are trying to find Jim Griffin, a 60-year-old Port Angeles resident who set off for a day hike on Monday. Griffin frequently hikes the 2.5-mile trail to the hot springs, according to Olympic National Park staff.

On Wednesday, at around 10:00 p.m., friends reported Griffin overdue when he did not show up for a Christmas Eve dinner. Three national park employees began the search that evening and searched through the night.

Griffin’s day pack was found on Christmas day about 50 feet from the trail and a half-mile from the trailhead.

Eight search groups, including three dog teams, searched until dark on Friday. The park attempted to use Griffin’s dog in the search.

This morning, more than 20 searchers and two dogs conducted a grid search within 500 feet from where Griffin’s pack was found. The searchers covered one hundred percent of the search area in a grid pattern about ten feet apart. No clues were found, according to a park press release.

Tomorrow, Sunday, the search will continue on a smaller scale as weather and snow allow.

Park searchers spoke to two people who say they had a conversation with Griffin at the hot springs. They believe he left the hot springs around 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 22, which would mean he hiked back in the dark, according to park staff.

Anyone with information about Griffin are asked to call park dispatch at (360) 565-3115.

Plentiful clams make for early clamming season at Dosewallips

DosewallipsClammers

A booming clam population at Dosewallips State Park means the park’s clamming season will open Jan. 1. That’s two months earlier than the usual March opening.

DishingupClamsSurveys indicate that the clam population at Dosewallips has greatly increased and can support a year-round season in 2015, according to Camille Speck of the state Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s Port Townsend office.

The park’s beach is known as a prime spot for harvesting Manila littleneck clams. The best areas are in the mid-upper tidal zone in mixed sand and gravel substrate. Good digging can also be found around and among the oysters – an area often overlooked by clammers.

Former Kitsap Sun reporter and Food Life blogger Angela Dice joined a Bainbridge park district clamming class at Dosewallips a few years ago. In the Food Life, she wrote posts about digging and then cooking (and eating) Dosewallips clams and oysters.

Photos: Angela Dice/Kitsap Sun

Time’s running out to comment on Olympic National Park fee hikes

Less than two weeks remain to comment on Olympic National Park’s proposal to substantially increase fees next year.

Here’s a graph showing the current fees compared to the park’s proposed hikes:

In today’s paper, I wrote about the reluctant support various park advocacy groups are giving to the fee increases at Olympic and dozens of other national parks. They worry higher entrance fees will be a barrier for those on tight budgets and that park visitation could fall. But with the federal government stripping away national park funding, there’s little choice but to put more of the cost of running parks on visitors, park advocates say.

To comment on the increases, head over here.

Outdoor groups oppose photo and filming restrictions

Photo: Mij Revio/Flickr
Photo: Mij Revio/Flickr

A coalition of outdoor recreation groups are joining the protest against U.S. Forest Service limits on commercial filming and photography in wilderness areas.

American Whitewater, the Mountaineers, the International Mountain Bicycling Association and other organizations (together known as the Outdoor Alliance) wrote a letter to the Forest Service urging it to reconsider its policy of requiring permits and charging fees to film or photograph in places like Olympic National Forest.

While Forest Service officials have said the rules are aimed at curbing intrusive, large-scale filming operations in wilderness areas, the Outdoor Alliance argues that much of the filming is done with small devices.

“Of even greater significance than changes in the technology for image capture are changes in the landscape for dissemination and, in some cases, monetization of those images,” the letter states. “Today, an outdoor recreationist or adventure sports athlete might shoot a short video and post it to a blog containing advertising or through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, potentially “tagging” sponsors who provide him or her with equipment or a small income. Athletes engaged in this type of activity are often incredibly prolific, posting videos as often as daily and creating no greater impact to the landscape than another user who chooses not to engage in filming.”

These films and photos “carry a message ‘about the use and enjoyment of wilderness’ in that they show fun, healthy opportunities for outdoor recreation in a pristine landscape. They help generate enthusiasm about outdoor recreation…”

The Forest Service recently announced it would back away from a policy requiring journalists to buy permits and pay fees for filming and photography.

You can read the Outdoor Alliance’s letter below.
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Did the county get a good price for Place of the Bear?

POTBMAp

A few readers have asked just how good a deal Kitsap County got when it decided last week to sell the 220-acre parkland known as Place of the Bear to the Suquamish Tribe.

The $1.475 million price struck some as suspiciously low for such a large property.

But, in checking the county’s property records, I found that the assessed value of the two parcels that make up Place of the Bear amount to $1.218. That’s more than $200,000 below the final price.

PlaceBear

Interestingly, the property’s value plunged just before the county and tribe began serious negotiations last year. In 2012, the largest chuck of Place of the Bear – about 218 acres – was a whopping $3.130 million. A year later, the value had been cut in half, down to .

Seems strange, right? But the dramatic reduction in value was fairly widespread in North Kitsap during that same period, according to the county assessor’s office.

A large section of North Kitsap Heritage Park, for instance, went from an assessed value of $1.45 million in 2012 down to to $1.372 million in 2013 and then plunged to 660,000 this year.

Similar parklands south of Poulsbo held their value better. The undeveloped county parkland known as Erlands Point in Chico lost only about $15,000 of its value between 2012 and 2013. A large section of Anderson Point Park near Olalla actually went up in value, moving from $532,000 in 2012 to its current value of $547,000.

Private and tribe-owned properties in the Suquamish area also fell in value. A large private property adjacent to Place of the Bear dropped from $631,000 to $356,000 between 2012 and 2013.

Smaller parcels didn’t fall quite as much as larger ones. The assessor’s staff explained that’s because larger properties in unincorporated residential areas are typically less desirable for buyers – most of whom want a manageable lot of a few acres.

The big plunge between 2012 to 2013 appears to be a corrective measure for what was judged to be inflated values in North Kitsap.

So, overall, it seems the county got about what the property was worth.

For more about Place of the Bear and the controversy surrounding its sale, head over here.

And go here for a story about last week’s decision to sell it.