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SR3 slowly becoming a natural beauty

Usually, when people are seen walking along State Route 3, they are helping pick up litter or assisting with a broken down car.

However, the folks that plan to be on the highway this weekend will be part of a beautification project that doesn’t require garbage bags or a wrench, but rather a shovel and a green thumb.

On April 3, organizers and volunteers of the Kitsap Treeways Project will be completing the second phase of the effort to plant native trees between Bremerton and the Hood Canal Bridge along SR 3.

Project coordinator Jim Trainer will lead a group of arbor-minded folks in the planting of 200 to 300 Western Hemlocks along a four-mile stretch of highway between Clear Creek Road and Sherman Hill Road.

Interested planters will meet at 9 a.m. at the west end of the Target parking lot in Silverdale. From there, they will car pool to the starting point at Luoto Road near Subase Bangor and will plant trees up to Sherman Hill Road.

Last January, Trainer and volunteers completed the first phase of the project when they planted 150 native Garry Oaks from Loxie Eagans Boulevard in Bremerton to Clear Creek Road. This coming fall, the effort will start again at Sherman Hill Road and continue north for another four miles.

By the time the project is finished, there will be seven different species of native trees planted along nearly 30 miles of highway between Bremerton and the Hood Canal Bridge, Trainer said. He expects the project to be completed within two years, as plantings are phased in four- to five-mile sections.

“I didn’t want to do the whole project in a whole year,” Trainer explained. “I wanted to give other people an opportunity from each specific region (to participate).”

While there are several volunteer groups that have a steady attendance rates during the work days, “we always welcome more,” Trainer said of this Saturday’s event.

He expects the work party to go until about noon or 1 p.m. and asks volunteers to dress for the weather, which is expected to be partly cloudy skies for Saturday.

Trainer also noted the plantings are done in the morning because there is usually less traffic on the highway.

Once treeways project is fully planted, Trainer plans to use it as an education tool for residents and visitors in Kitsap County. For each section of trees, there will be a sign introducing each species. There will also be audio recordings available that can be played in the car when driving through the treeway.

For instance, if a school bus starts the recording when it leaves Bremerton and heads north to the Hood Canal Bridge traveling at 60 miles per hour, the information on the recording will align with each segment of trees that the bus passes, Trainer said.

“It’s a learning experience for the students of Kitsap County,” he explained.

Trainer added he also wants to make the recordings available at the Kitsap County Visitors and Convention Bureau in Port Gamble for visitors.

“It’s both educational and aesthetically pleasing to the eye to see all those native trees in a 30-mile stretch,” he said.

The project was an idea that had been growing in the back of Trainer’s mind during the past few years before he acted on it with the National Tree Trust and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

As the project has progressed, WSDOT officials have found they like the idea so much they want to continue planting trees along SR 104 into Jefferson County and onto the SR 101/Olympic Loop.

“It is the only project of it’s kind in the state of Washington,” Trainer said.

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