PORT ORCHARD, WA
Today, Kitsap Forest & Bay partners signed a purchase and sale agreement with Pope Resources to protect 175 forested acres as a nature preserve and a link in the Sound to Olympics Trail. The property will be part of the new 270-acre Grovers Creek Preserve and is across the road from the recently expanded 800-acre North Kitsap Heritage Park. This will be the third acquisition in the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project, a community-driven initiative to secure miles of trails connecting to a cross-state trail system and to protect thousands of acres of forests, wetlands and shoreline for public access and wildlife habitat.
“It’s a case where the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder. “Our investments will enhance our economy, ensure our quality of life and protect the habitat we all value.”
The agreement sets the stage for completing the fundraising needed to purchase the full 270-acre Grovers Creek Preserve, as well as for raising philanthropic dollars to secure over 3000 acres of additional forest south of Port Gamble and west of the Preserve. “This is a small but important next step in our larger conservation strategy,” said Michelle Connor, Executive Vice President at Forterra.
Public grants and private donations totaling $1.775 million have been raised for the Grovers Creek Preserve, with a remaining $325,000 needed by May 2015. The agreement signed today will purchase the largest portion of the Preserve for $920,000 from Pope Resources.
Within the Grovers Creek Preserve is a high quality peat bog and a rare grove of 200-year old Sitka spruce, hemlock, cedar, Douglas fir and grand fir. The diverse habitat supports over 60 bird species; hosts threatened steelhead as well as coho and cutthroat trout; and provides a home for black bear, mink, otter, salamander, frog and other wildlife. A mile downstream, Grovers Creek flows into Miller Bay. The expanse of wetlands spreading out from the creek ensures the water entering the bay is clean and flows year round.
“Grovers Creek Preserve is a magical place of big trees, bears and beavers that reminds us of the Kitsap Peninsula of long ago,” commented Sandra Staples-Bortner, Executive Director of Great Peninsula Conservancy. “We are delighted to be working with the many project partners to save this land for all time.”
In 2011, Forterra signed an option agreement with the landowner, Pope Resources, giving the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project partners time to raise funds and complete the due diligence necessary to move toward successful conservation. Forterra has supported the Project on a strategic level as well as through project partner coordination, grant writing and engaging elected leadership at the state and federal level. Forterra will assign the purchase and sale agreement to Great Peninsula Conservancy to complete the purchase later this spring.
“This partnership with the community began in 2007 and has continued to make progress through the strength of the Kitsap Forest and Bay coalition members and a powerful vision for what the North Kitsap community can become,” said Jon Rose, Vice President – Real Estate of Pope Resources. “These efforts and their success will be celebrated by people for generations to come.”
The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project is an effort by Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy, Pope Resources 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. With the pending Grovers Creek Preserve purchase, the Project has protected over 1000 acres in North Kitsap.