Poulsbo’s ‘Big Fish’ Park

Fish Park steering committee Joan Hett (left), Tom Nordlie (center) and Parks and Recreation director Mary McCluskey (right) toured the urban park Wednesday.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Fish Park steering committee Joan Hett (left), Tom Nordlie (center) and Parks and Recreation director Mary McCluskey (right) toured the urban park Wednesday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Like any good fish tale, Poulsbo’s Fish Park is getting bigger. And bigger.

The Viking City’s community-grown amenity will expand by 7.43 acres, making the nature space in an urban setting 20.79 acres in size. And that’s no exaggeration.

Now, thanks to Mother Nature’s extended rainy weather, the park is abloom with the greens, yellows and purples of a well-preserved paradise.

“When you think about the uniqueness of having 20 acres in the middle of the city, what a special asset that’s going to be for the community,” said park steering committee chair Tom Nordlie. The seven-member committee has been building trails, re-establishing Puget Sound lowland plant communities and facilitating other park improvements in conjunction with volunteers since 2003.

Now the group is stirring ideas on what the new land at the north end of the park could include. The two parcels — one of .92 acres and the other of 6.51 acres ­— are being donated anonymously to the Great Peninsula Conservacy, which approached the city to pass the generosity forward last year. The donations have a combined $371,530 value — for which the city will only pay $5,000 in administrative fees. Poulsbo Parks and Recreation director Mary McCluskey said the conservancy board will meet June 17 to officially approve the property transfer.

Nordlie said a beaver pond, north end access and education center are future possibilities the group is hoping to accomplish in the new space, though no specific plans have been made.

Either way, strolling through the park Wednesday afternoon, it was clear both he and committee member Joan Hett have high hopes for continuing their work.

“It makes it fun to be a part of something like this that people can embrace and enjoy and participate with,” Nordlie said. Volunteers join forces one day each month to make improvements to the park, and many have been using its mile of trails for dog walking, lunchbreaks and exercise.

The park recently saw a parking lot improvement, along with new signage at its entrance staked with a strikingly sculpted boulder. On the to-do list this year is the completion of an outdoor amphitheater and boardwalk, the latter of which is being built by the Poulsbo Noon Lions Club. Much like the boardwalk that stretches from Waterfront Park to American Legion Park, the finished walkway will provide 1,000 feet of trail through lush plant life. Streams, ponds and the Dogfish Creek estuary are peak points of interest throughout the park as well. Nearly all of the space is handicap-accessible.

Continuing the park’s grassroots effort, an informational kiosk was recently completed by the Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club. Girl, Boy and Eagle scouts have also made contributions of benches and trails. Three hundred students have visited the park this year, many of them releasing salmon into streams.

Hett said communities of Douglas Firs, Indiam Plum shrubs, Western Red Cedars and Western Hemlocks have all been planted. She’s spearheaded the effort to reestablish original plant life. Last June, gel packs were placed near new trees to help them grow, but Hett said because of the wetness this year has been a different story.

During the afternoon tour, rabbits, a mallard duck and birds could be seen skittering through the park. Nordlie said raccoons, fox, river otter and seals call the area home. The place has also become a mecca for birding, as it was recognized on a Cornell University national registry after a Northern Mockingbird was spotted.

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