Trail closure expanded near Olympic National Park wildfire

QueetsRiver

Olympic National Park is closing another section of the Queets River Trail due to the spreading Paradise Fire.

The fire, which is now nearly 2,400 acres, has reached Bob Creek, a landmark firefighters decided in June would trigger additional closures and heighten the firefighting response.

The expanded closure includes all areas east of Spruce Bottom on the Queets trail.

Firefighters are likely to increase helicopter water drops and the use of 3,000-gallon water tanks, which will be flown into remote areas of the fire area.

For more information about the fire, head over here.

Photo: Queets River, Olympic National Park.

How to get to Fudge Point

Fudge Point's 3,000 foot-long beach. Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun
Fudge Point’s 3,000-foot-long beach. Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

My story about Washington State Parks’ plan for the Fudge Point property has elicited a few questions about how to get there.

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The 141-acre property on Harstine Island is not yet an official state park but it is open to the public. No signs mark it as a state park property and there are no park amenities, such as parking, bathrooms, trash cans or running water. Basically, it’s a big undeveloped property with what park officials say is one of the best beaches in the region. Click here for a bunch of park planning documents on the property.

Before I give the directions, I want to note that the property’s use as a public park has been controversial with some folks in the neighborhood. They’re worried about traffic, trash, noise, fires, trespassing and other negative side effects that they say come with a state park. One reader told me this week that “No Trespassing” signs are cropping up like weeds in the area. Thankfully, all the readers of this blog are smart, considerate people so I don’t even have to mention that you should never litter, start illegal fires, trample nearby commercial shellfish beds or do anything that violates the rules of conduct at a state park.

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OK, so to get there from Kitsap, head south on Highway 3. About 20 minutes after passing through Belfair, get ready to make a left on East Pickering Road. Take Pickering across the Harstine Island bridge and then take a right on South Island Drive. Take a left on Harstine Island Road and then a right on Ballow Road. Continue on Ballow a little more than a half mile. Where Ballow veers sharply to the left is where you should start looking for a spot on the roadside to park.

As I mentioned above, Fudge Point has absolutely no parking. Park staff have told me you can park along the road but you have to be careful about driveways and the sensitivities of nearby property owners.

In the road’s bend  (opposite from a clear cut) are two side-by-side driveways. The driveway on the rightGate is the access road into the Fudge Point property. The other driveway (without a gate) is private. So remember: no gate = stay out. Gate = go right in. The gate is locked and no motorized vehicles are allowed on the park property. The driveway, actually a former logging road, is about a mile long. You can walk it,  or better yet, mountain bike it. The above map shows the logging road’s route in yellow.

At the beach you can enjoy a 3,000-foot-long stretch of sand, a lagoon rich in wildlife and some great views of the Key Peninsula and Mount Rainier.

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Image courtesy of Washington State Parks

Take a virtual tour of P.O.’s Bay Street path

Reporter Chris Henry strapped on a GoPro and biked along Port Orchard’s waterfront to show the route of the Bay Street Pedestrian Path.

As you can see from the above video, the 1.5-mile-long route is mostly a plan at this point. There are two finished sections, but Chris had to join with vehicle traffic a few times and ride along a few narrow shoulder sections. Read more about her ride here.

The path has been in development for about five years. The completed route will run from the Annapolis ferry dock (where Chris starts her ride) to Port Orchard Marina Park. Recently, the state chipped in $3.5 million to help construct the east portion of the route.

Here’s Chris’ latest story on the path: Port Orchard’s Bay Path bridge work to start soon

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Giant red squid washes up on Puget Sound beach

Two guys fishing for salmon north of Seattle came home with quite a fish tale. Make that a squid tale.

Brought in by the tide on Sunday morning was what might be a robust clubhooked squid. Dwellers of the deep, these real-life sea monsters rarely make their way into Puget Sound. When they do, they’re usually found dead like this one was. This may be due to the sound’s shallower depths, higher temperatures and lower salinity. Basically, the squids need it cold, dark and salty.

The squid, which was found on Shoreline’s Richmond Beach, was partially eaten and was missing at least one tentacle. It was just under 7 feet long and was estimated to be about 65 lbs.

For more about clubhooked squids, read this: thecephalopodpage.org/Mrobusta

Click below to see a few more squid photos from the Beam Reach school’s Facebook page

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Chinook salmon fishing ends early in North Kitsap

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Chinook salmon fishing along Kitsap’s north shore will close early this season.

State fishery managers expect the catch quota for Marine Area 9 to be met by the end of this weekend. Area 9 includes the waters off the north end of Kitsap, from the Hood Canal bridge to Kingston. See map (left).

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Starting Monday, fishing for coho and pink salmon will still be allowed but chinook must be released. The daily limit for the area will be two salmon plus two additional pink salmon.

State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife fishery manager Ryan Lothrop said anglers have done well in the area. Chinook fishing was set to close Aug. 15 but anglers have already caught about 80 percent of the catch quota.

As of today (July 23), anglers had caught an estimated 1,953 chinook in Marine Area 9. The catch quota for the area is 2,483.

Beginning Monday, anglers will be able to fish for salmon in the area south from the line between Foulweather Bluff and Olele Point, Lothrop said. This section of Marine Area 9 was closed during the chinook fishery. Anglers fishing in this section have the same daily limit for salmon as the rest of Marine Area 9.

Photo: Anglers cast off Point No Point on Kitsap’s north end. Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

Pooping cyclist starts Idaho wildfire

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A cyclist trying to “leave no trace” sparked a wildfire that has burned more than 70 acres near Boise.

Firefighters say the cyclist made a pit stop in a ravine in the Boise foothills yesterday. After relieving himself, the cyclist lit his toilet paper on fire. An ember caught the wind and set a patch of dry grass ablaze.

“He thought he was doing the responsible thing by getting rid of the toilet paper but quickly realized the fire was out of his control,” Boise firefighters said in a statement.

An interagency firefighting organization issued a very earnest public advisory urging people to “bury human waste” and refrain from burning soiled toilet paper.

The cyclist confessed to the TP torching and apologized. He was cited, fined and may be held responsible for some of the Boise Fire Department’s costs once they are tallied.

Photo: Wildfire in Hulls Gulch Reserve near Boise, Idaho. Courtesy of the Boise Fire Department.

Report: State parks generate $1.4 billion per year

One of the many weddings held at Kitsap Memorial State Park. Courtesy of Washington State Parks
One of the many weddings held at Kitsap Memorial State Park. Courtesy of Washington State Parks

Washington State Parks visitors are pumping $1.4 billion into the economy each year. That’s according to a not-yet-released report assessing spending by state park visitors.

Park officials teased some of the report’s findings at Wednesday’s state parks commission meeting in Poulsbo.

The report also estimates that state parks support 13,000 jobs and generate about $200 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

The report was prepared by Earth Economics – the same Tacoma-based firm that released a much bigger report early this year about the state’s outdoor recreation economy. That report found that outdoor recreation generates almost $22 billion per year.

“We wanted to know our share of that $22 billion,” said Peter Herzog, assistant director of Washington State Parks.

The spending is on everything from wedding bookings and camping fees to gas and food.

I’ll have a story about the report later this week.

Park officials will be sure to send the report to the state’s elected leaders. The Legislature has been chipping away at tax-supported funding for state parks for years. To fill the gap, state parks instituted the Discover Pass, raised fees and took a more “entrepreneurial” approach to park management.

Showing state parks’ big dividends could sway some leaders to invest more in the park system, Herzog said.

“This is more fodder to help our cause,” he said.

State parks leaders coming to Kitsap

Poulsbo City Hall
Poulsbo City Hall

In a rare visit to Kitsap, the Washington State Parks Commission will hold its regular meeting at Poulsbo City Hall next week.

The two-day meeting marks the first time in seven years the commission has met in Kitsap. The commission holds seven meetings at locations across the state each year.

The Poulsbo meeting’s agenda on Wednesday includes reports on climate change, forest stewardship, the state budget’s funding for state parks and an inter-agency workplan for the Discover Pass. On Thursday, the commission is set to make decisions on selling a 31-acre Squaxin Island property to the Squaxin Tribe and a management plan for the newly-acquired Fudge Point property on Harstine Island in Mason County. The public is invited to comment on state park issues starting at 9:35 a.m. on Thursday.

On Friday morning, the commission will tour Manchester and Blake Island state parks in South Kitsap.

The commission’s last Kitsap meeting was in Silverdale in 2008.

Last year, the commission met in Chehalis, Winthrop, Bellingham, Illwaco, Spokane and twice in Olympia. Its meetings in 2015 have been in Olympia, DuPont and Cle Elum. After Poulsbo, they’ll meet in Spokane, Stevenson and Gold Bar.

“These meetings are in different placed to give (the commission) a chance to talk with local elected officials and let the public come and listen,” parks spokeswoman Virginia Painter said.

Former state park on Squaxin Island
Former state park on Squaxin Island

The most significant decision set for the Poulsbo meeting is the Squaxin Island property sale. Formerly known as Squaxin Island State Park, the waterfront property was denied permission for public access over tribe-owned tidelands in 1993. The move isolated the property and forced its closure.

State parks estimates that the property’s sale would generate about $45,000. The money could only be used only to acquire new parklands.

The Fudge Point plan is aimed at balancing recreational uses and environmental preservation on the 114-acre property. The property has not yet been designated a state park. The plan calls for the development of 20 acres for parking, bathrooms, campsites and other recreational uses. About 10 acres, including a lagoon and stream mouth, would be protected for wildlife.

Wednesday’s workshop is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday’s regular meeting is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A full agenda is available here.

Illahee Preserve will expand

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I would not have bet that the backers of Illahee Preserve would raise more than $30,000 over the last four days.

When I called Jim Aho yesterday to check on the fundraising, I expected to hear a dejected, deflated voice.

“We made it!” Jim blurted before I could say why I called.

Amazingly, Jim and and the other members of Illahee Forest Preserve managed to turn a lagging fundraising effort into a powerhouse, almost overnight. Yesterday was their deadline for fundraising, and by the morning, Aho had $7,000 more than the $30,000 needed to fill the gap on the 25-acre purchase. By the afternoon, more pledges and donations had streamed in, putting the overflow at close to $20,000.

Any money raised beyond the purchase of the 25 acres will go toward buying the entire Timbers Edge property, which totals 36 acres.

For more, read the story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

Photo: Jim Aho stands near Illahee Creek ravine on Monday. Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun

Illahee Preserve’s long shot pays off

Photo: IllaheePreserve.org
Photo: IllaheePreserve.org

A last-minute change to the state’s capital budget is making Illahee Preserve Heritage Park’s expansion look like a dream that might come true.

Budget-makers grabbed $300,000 out of the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program and put it toward the purchase of 25 acres adjacent to the Bremerton-area preserve. The appropriation happened in the final stage of capital budget negotiations, long after most spending measures were locked in. The budget was signed by the Gov. Jay Inslee early this week.

Credit goes to Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) for snagging the $300,000. About two weeks ago, she received an email from Illahee Forest Preserve board member Irwin Krigsman.

“He asked for help and said they needed money,” Appleton said. “The capital budget wasn’t done, so I went to the budget chairman – and he’s a very big preservationist – and then the money showed up there.”

The House budget chairman is Hans Dunshee, a Snohomish County Democrat. His campaign site bills him as a “gentle green giant.”

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Advocates for the preserve’s expansion now have to come up with just under $30,000 before July 6. Yep, that’s in just four days.

July 6 is when the process for closing on the property, known as Timbers Edge, must begin, according to an agreement struck with the property’s owner. Raising $30,000 in less than a week won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible, said Jim Aho, an Illahee Forest Preserve board member.

“Thirty-thousand dollars is much more do-able compared $300,000,” he said. “Now we’re going to go out and start beating the bushes.”

Pledges keep coming in, but they remain small.

“Some are $25, and some are $100,” he said. “Last night we got one for $150, and hopefully we’ll be seeing some for $500.”

For more information or to make a pledge, visit thelostcontinent.org