Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park
Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park protects one of the largest lowland forests remaining in west Puget Sound. This vast forested landscape provides important habitat for bears, salmon, birds, and other wildlife, protects the waters of beautiful Port Gamble Bay, and contains cherished open space cherished as a place for year-round outdoor recreation.
Thanks to a visionary conservation campaign, the spectacular forests and tidelands of this Kitsap County Park have become the backbone of a future regional land and water trail system. With conservation of the land completed, Great Peninsula Conservancy continues to remain active in stewardship efforts in the park, enhancing low impact trails and creating viewing areas overlooking the bay.
Great Peninsula Conservancy joined together with many community partners in 2011 to launch the visionary Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, to conserve 6,700 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline surrounding Port Gamble Bay. This land has been cherished by native peoples for millenia, was once the hub of Puget Sound’s timber industry in Washington State. With the former lumber mill gone, the landowner (Pope Resources) provided the community a tremendous opportunity to conserve the land for all time, preserving the property’s rich ecosystems and the recreational appeal of its existing nature tails.
In 2014, the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project purchased 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline on Port Gamble Bay as an addition to Kitsap County’s Park system. Since then, Great Peninsula Conservancy, REI, Kitsap County and hundreds of volunteers have removed invasive plants and unsightly garbage from the park, planted native trees, and re-routed a quarter mile of trail around a wetland.
In 2016, the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project, working in partnership with Washington Department of Ecology, added 1356 acres to the park. In 2017, the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project purchased a final 1504 acres of forestland from Pope Resources to expand Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park to a total of 3,400 acres. For these final two purchases, the Kitsap Forest and Bay Project negotiated with Pope Resources to buy the land at a highly discounted price of approx. $2,500 an acre, with the stipulation that the company would be able to harvest trees on this land one last time over the next 25 years. After the company harvests stands of monoculture Douglas fir, it will replant with a diverse mix of native conifers.
This is an incredible victory for conservation, and will ensure that this land continues to provide benefits both as wildlife habitat and for outdoor recreation for generations to come.
Back Country Horsemen, Olympic
Bainbridge Island Land Trust
City of Bainbridge Island
City of Poulsbo
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, West Sound
Friends of Miller Bay
Great Peninsula Conservancy
Hansville Greenway Association
Hood Canal Coordinating Council
Hood Canal Environmental Council
Indianola Beach Improvement Club
Kitsap Audubon Society
Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning
Kitsap Conservation Voters
Kitsap Economic Development Alliance
Kitsap Home Builders Foundation
Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council
North Kitsap Trails Association
Port Gamble Forest Campaign Donors
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
Puget Sound Partnership
REI Coop, Inc.
Smyth Lumber Mill
Sports Safety and Education Association
Stillwater Environmental Center
Visit Kitsap Peninsula
Washington Department of Ecology
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
WA Leg. Dist. 23: Sen. C. Rolfes, Rep. S. Appleton, Rep. D. Hansen
Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office
West Sound Conservation Council
West Sound Cycling Club
West Sound Wildlife Shelter
WSU Kitsap County Extension