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Trails network formally proposed: ‘String of Pearls’ is being reviewed by the county

POULSBO — While there are dozens of parks and miles of hiking and biking trails in North Kitsap, it’s a guessing game as to where they connect.

One organization is leading the effort to create a series of connected trails — in neighborhoods, along shorelines, school routes and existing regional trails — to “connect our community.”

The North Kitsap Trail Association, working with land developer Olympic Property Group, has presented the String of Pearls trail plan to Kitsap County, where is it currently up for review.

The 7,000 acres the association and its partners hope to develop is owned by Olympic Property Group, a Pope Resources company, according to trails association President John Willett. He said it was Olympic Property Group  President Jon Rose who proposed the  North  Kitsap  trail   network in 2007. The open space was an amenity to their company, Willett said, which could increase the value of Olympic Property Group’s land holdings.

The county is now coordinating financial efforts to buy the acrage from Olympic Property Group, working with partner organizations Cascade Land Conservancy and local tribes.

The trails may also bring foot traffic from beyond Kitsap. The String of Pearls will connect with a northwest regional trail, currently beginning in Idaho to Seattle. By connecting Seattle to Kitsap (via ferry), Willett said they hope to connect to Jefferson County and the Olympic Discovery Trail.

“We’re the missing link,” he said. “It all works together...[moving] people throughout Kitsap County without needing to getting in cars.”

After two years, several community meetings and communicating with county, state, tribal and federal agencies, the trails association drafted its plan. Earlier this month, the state found the plan does not pose an adverse affect on the environment through the State Environmental Policy Act. Dennis Oost, senior planner with Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development, said when the individual trails are constructed, they will require their own SEPA study.

Willett said the next step is more community involvement. Comments about the plan, which can be viewed at the planning office in Port Orchard or on www.northkitsaptrails.org, are due to the county environmental planning office by Sept. 26. Oost said it’s important for the public to speak up before the planning commission reviews the plan and submits its comments. Residents can speak at the hearing Oct. 4 in Port Orchard, or email Oost at doost@co.kitsap.wa.us.

“Where this might succeed [where other plans failed] is we’ve got a lot of involvement with our community,” Willett said. “The plan’s been out there, a lot of people are talking.”

Visit www.northkitsaptrails.org and www.nkstringofpearls.com.

 

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