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State Senate, House budgets include millions for Kitsap Forest & Bay Project

The state Senate has included $2.9 million in funding for the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, according a release by Sen. Christine Rolfes.

The Senate Capital Budget was released April 9, and includes four grant awards from the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program: $297,000 for Grovers Creek, $392,000 for North Kitsap Heritage Park Expansion, and two grants — $1.25 million and $1 million — for Kitsap Forest and Bay Shoreline Access.

The budget also re-appropriates $9.27 million from the Department of Ecology for the Port Gamble Bay clean-up funds for restoration and clean-up protection, allowing the remaining $5 million to be carried over for future restoration or acquisition negotiations. The budget can be viewed at http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2013/sc1315p.asp

The House of Representatives also released their budget, which includes the same four grants but gives a total of $1 million for Grovers Creek/Divide Block.

Sandra Staples-Bortner, executive director of Great Peninsula Conservancy, which leads the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition, said funding for purchase of Grovers Creek "is less certain."

"Grovers Creek is a hidden gem," she wrote in a release. "This is a beautiful natural area at the head of Miller Bay with unique bog wetlands and old growth Sitka spruce, cedar and hemlock. It is rare to find these habitats so close to urban areas and we are thrilled to be working to protect them for perpetuity."

The Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition is fundraising to acquire 7,000 acres of North Kitsap forestland and shoreline from Pope Resources. The coalition is made up of 30 organizations, agencies and nonprofits, including the Principal's Group: Kitsap County, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Suquamish Tribe and Pope Resources. The principals are responsible for negotiating all land deals.

The coalition has until March 28, 2014 to complete any acquisition.

 

 

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