Pondering traffic and Ueland’s conservation efforts

Craig Ueland seems to be following through on a commitment he made five years ago, when he first talked about managing his 1,700 acres of forestland for its natural resource values.

His latest step is to set aside 100 acres of forestland in a conservation easement, promising to keep the land in a natural condition forever. One goal is to protect the water quality of Chico Creek, the most productive chum salmon stream on the Kitsap Peninsula. See my story in yesterday’s Kitsap Sun.

In a story I wrote three years ago, Ueland talked about protecting the Chico Creek watershed and putting 150 acres into conservation easements on part of the property and managing other parts for timber, forest products and mineral resources. See Kitsap Sun, Dec. 4, 2006.

I believe he still plans to set aside other areas in the future.

Residents who live along Northlake Way say the trouble with Craig Ueland is not his lack of concern for natural resources but that he does not care enough about people who would be affected by truck traffic going to and from a proposed gravel mine and series of rock quarries he wants to build on his property.

As one reader wrote in a comment on yesterday’s story, “I hope the trees, streams and salmon enjoy the neighborhood, because when Mr. Ueland gets finished with the neighborhood, no PEOPLE will want to live there anymore.”

Opponents of the project have raised many issues, but the overwhelming concern is heavy truck traffic on Northlake Way.

Ueland and his associates contend that Northlake Way is the only route the trucks can use to get the rock and gravel to market.

For environmental reasons as well as cost, Kitsap County planners have stated that they do not want him cutting a new route southward though steep slopes and a wildlife corridor to Werner Road — although residents say that is probably the only logical route that could keep the trucks off their roads.

As a condition of approval, Ueland may be required to pay for improvements to Northlake Way to address traffic-safety concerns. But residents realize that widening the road and adding sidewalks will only place the traffic closer to their homes.

With or without the gravel operations, Northlake Way has become a major route for residents heading out toward Seabeck and all points west of Bremerton. It is a shame that Northlake Way residents have been forced to endure dramatic changes in traffic through the years. With ongoing development out west, there appears to be no end in sight to the traffic, and residents say they are already facing danger every time they pull out of their driveways.

Is there another route that could get traffic from Seabeck Highway to Kitsap Way? Should the county start planning for major traffic improvements in the area? Are there other alternatives?

The next step in the Ueland saga probably will be a ruling by the Kitsap County hearing examiner. That decision is expected in February.

I think this may be a good time to review the stories of the past few years. For documents related to the gravel-mining project, go to the Ueland Tree Farm Web site.

Story list:

Owner to Discuss Strategy for 1,700 Acres, Dec. 4, 2006

Planned Rumble of Gravel Trucks Triggers Grumbles, Dec. 11, 2006

Tree Farm Plans Continue to Root, March 27, 2007

Sustainable Logging Planned for 1,700-Acre Tree Farm, June 21, 2007

Gravel Mine Proposed on Land Near Kitsap Lake, Oct. 2, 2007

Meeting Held on Plan for Tree Farm, Nov. 8, 2007

Gravel, Rock Mining Operation Proposed West of Kitsap Lake, Dec. 14, 2007

Review for Proposed Gravel Pit Begins, July 3, 2008

Gravel and Rock Operation Near Kitsap Lake Under Review, March 2, 2009

Gravel Project Undergoes Environmental Review, March 26, 2009

Alternative Route to Proposed Gravel Operation Deemed Unworkable, Aug. 25, 2009

County Planners Endorse Large Gravel Mine West of Kitsap Lake, Oct. 16, 2009

Hearing on Proposed Ueland Gravel Mine Is Today, Nov. 6, 2009

Neighbors Argue Against Proposed Kitsap Lake Gravel Mine, Nov. 9, 2009

Kitsap Lake-Area Residents Continue Fight Against Proposed Gravel Mine, Dec. 14, 2009

Ueland Agrees to Preserve 100 Forested Acres Near Kitsap Lake, Dec. 22, 2009

One thought on “Pondering traffic and Ueland’s conservation efforts

  1. Why didn’t the county and Ueland use, or at least consider, one of the 5 souther access routes that Parametrix certified as feasible for the Port Blakely project between 1996 and 2001. Could it be that Mr. Ueland wants to develop the southern portion with houses and doesn’t want the truck and pup dump trucks passsing through throug them?
    How did the county and Ueland’s expert engineers concluede that 10,500 vehicles between Erland Point Road and Highway 3, is LESS than the 3,300 vehicles that travel onto Kitsap Way via Chico Way in front of the Red Apple grocery. That is right. They stated Ueland’s dump trucks could not go to Kitsap Way via Norhtlake Way because there was more traffic at Kitsap Way and Chico intersection.
    With “experts” concluding that 3,300 is more than 10,500, who do we ignorant people in the Northlake Way neighborhood think we are. No wonder the _____ county can’t balance a budget!

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