It’s Official: Kitsap County Acquires Port Gamble Bay Forest

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Kitsap County is now the owner of 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline on Port Gamble Bay.

The acquisition is the first in the multi-year Kitsap Forest & Bay Project. The property will be put under the management of the county parks department for use by hikers, mountain bikers and kayakers.

The property is shown as the “Port Gamble Shoreline Block” on the above map.

Read Kitsap Sun reporter Christopher Dunagan’s story here.

Head down below to read the county’s press release.

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On February 12, Kitsap County purchased 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline on Port Gamble Bay for permanent conservation. It is the first acquisition of the multi-year Kitsap Forest & Bay Project.

The Kitsap Forest & Bay Project is an effort by Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy, and many community partners to conserve 6,700 acres of forest and shoreline owned by Pope Resources around Port Gamble Bay on the western shore of Washington’s Puget Sound.

Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder noted the significance of the transaction, “This acquisition has been years in the making and the beginning of a series of great things to come in 2014. We are lining up funding to protect additional lands from Kingston to Port Gamble as part of this preservation effort.”

“Conservation of these lands will help sustain the cultural heritage and health of our communities, the functioning of our environment and diversity of our economy” said Michelle Connor, Forterra’s Executive Vice President. “Moving the whole effort forward is a testament to the leadership of local residents, Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, and the State of Washington.”

“The public purchase of the shoreline block at Port Gamble Bay is an accomplishment worth celebrating. The Suquamish Tribe is grateful that this critical marine habitat will be protected for time immemorial and help in efforts to protect the water quality of Port Gamble Bay,” said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman.

This property includes a portion of the western shoreline on Port Gamble Bay, a culturally significant waterway that connects the Port Gamble S’Klallam people to their ancestors and the village that once existed at the town of Port Gamble.

“One of my Tribe’s ongoing priorities is to ensure that Port Gamble Bay remains productive and healthy for future generations. The conservation of this property furthers that goal by protecting water quality, preventing development, and limiting storm water runoff and other associated impacts,” said Jeromy Sullivan, Chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

The area is heavily used by kayakers, bird watchers, mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers seeking low-elevation, year-round access to trails. Pope Resources has allowed public access for many years, generating an enthusiastic group of volunteers who maintain a vast trail network.

“We are proud to be working with the community to protect these forests, beaches and trails for future generations,” said Jon Rose, President of Olympic Property Group, Pope Resources’ wholly owned real estate subsidiary. “This purchase is a prize that has been earned through nearly a decade of dedicated efforts by the local community.”

“The many community partners involved in the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition have dedicated countless hours to help achieve this historic land purchase – handing out trail maps, speaking to community groups and marching in parades,” said Sandra Staples-Bortner, Executive Director of Great Peninsula Conservancy and Coalition Chair. “And when it came down to the wire, the Coalition raised over $10,000 in three days to fill the final funding gap.”

The area draws thousands of outdoor recreationists annually and is one of the largest lowland forests in the Hood Canal watershed, offering important habitat for salmon and other wildlife. Conservation of these lands will link marine and freshwater habitats together for the protection of the entire watershed ecosystem. Kitsap County will manage the forest land and shoreline to protect its natural heritage while providing open space for public enjoyment.

“Restoring and sustaining the ecological systems that support Port Gamble Bay is critical for Hood Canal, Puget Sound, and all of us who call Washington home,” said Maia Bellon, Director of Washington State’s Department of Ecology, a key funder of the acquisition.

Additional funding for the purchase came from the National Coastal Wetlands Program, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the Washington State Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and private donors.

There will be a local celebration of the successful conservation of the Shoreline Block held in Port Gamble. Details will be announced shortly.

About Forterra
Forterra fills a unique and important niche as the largest conservation and community building organization dedicated solely to this region. As a national leader, Forterra is shaping a future that will flourish environmentally and economically. We partner with thousands of leaders and residents across the region to create healthy, livable and prosperous communities. For over 20 years, Forterra has led efforts to conserve 234,000 acres of forests, farms, shorelines, parks and natural areas and restore critical landscapes. More at www.forterra.org.

About Pope Resources
Pope Resources, a publicly traded limited partnership, and its subsidiaries Olympic Resource Management and Olympic Property Group, own or manage 204,000 acres of timberland and development property in Washington, Oregon, and California. We also manage, co-invest in, and consolidate three timberland investment funds, for which we earn management fees. These timberland investment vehicles provide an efficient means of investing our own capital in Pacific Northwest timberland while earning fees from managing these vehicles for the third-party investors. The company and its predecessor companies have owned and managed timberlands and development properties for more than 150 years. Additional information on the company can be found at www.poperesources.com. The contents of our website are not incorporated into this release or into our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About Kitsap County
Kitsap County located between the Olympic Peninsula and the Greater-Seattle area, has a long history of open space acquisition and stewardship. Kitsap currently holds over 6,300 acres of park and open space land throughout the County. These include multiple large-scale Heritage Parks as well as several regional parks providing public access, trail systems and use of its beautiful shorelines. Kitsap’s Forest Stewardship Program is working to manage these and other public lands for long-term forests; transforming Douglas Fir plantations into diverse tree stands with potential as healthy old-growth in the future. For more information, please visit www.kitsapgov.com.

About the Suquamish Tribe
The Suquamish Tribe is a federally-recognized sovereign nation. The village of Suquamish and the seat of the Suquamish Tribal Government are located on the Port Madison Indian Reservation along the shores of the Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County, WA. In addition to providing for the health, education and welfare of Suquamish families, the Suquamish Tribal Government maintains and operates a number of public services for community members on the Port Madison Indian Reservation including a new museum, parks, police and marine facilities.

About the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, originally known as the Nux Sklai Yem or Strong People, are descendants of the Salish people who have been well-established in the Puget Sound basin and surrounding areas since 2400 B.C. In the late 1930s, the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, located on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, was established. Many of the Tribe’s members, who total about twelve hundred, still live there today.

About Great Peninsula Conservancy
Great Peninsula Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust working to protect forever the natural habitats, rural landscapes, and open spaces of the Great Peninsula – a region encompassing Kitsap, western Pierce, and north Mason counties, Washington. Great Peninsula Conservancy has protected over 5,800 acres of this spectacular region of west Puget Sound, including magnificent forests, untouched shorelines, salmon streams, and wildlife-rich estuaries. The Conservancy’s work is funded by its members and public grants. www.greatpeninsula.org

About Department of Ecology
At Ecology, we’re proud to help you protect Washington’s environment and quality of life. Our mission is to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment, and to promote the wise management of our air, land and water for the benefit of current and future generations.