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Celebration for Millie’s Trail
POULSBO — Two dreams came true when the North Kitsap Trails Association opened Millie’s Trail to the public June 11.
The trail links Big Valley Road to Olympic Property Group forest land. It’s a long sought after connection, association president Linda Berry-Maraist said.
“We’ve been wanting it for quite a while,” Berry-Maraist said.
It’s also something Millie Dove Muller thought would be a good contribution to the community.
Muller celebrated her 97th birthday June 11, which coincided with the trail dedication. Muller opened a portion of her property to the public to allow a trail to be built through it.
“[Millie] just wants people to enjoy the land,” said Millie’s niece, Nan Mader.
And so, in a break between rain showers, the 97-year-old Big Valley resident cut the ceremonial ribbon — with the help of County Commissioner Rob Gelder — to mark another addition to the forestland trails network.
The land has been in Millie’s family for at least 110 years. Millie’s family, decendents of early Finnish emigrants, moved to the area after Millie’s great-grandfather made enough in the Alaska gold rush to purchase the land, according to Mader. The land the family owns totals about 160 acres.
Millie was born in a tiny cottage that is still on the property, one of many sights trail-goers can view from the trail. A chicken coop, which was actually larger than the cottage Millie grew up in, still sits atop a hill overlooking the property.
Poulsbo Historical Society members researched Millie’s family history prior to the trail being constructed, and recorded an oral history with Millie in 2009. The historical society contributed information that is on a display board at the trailhead.
As a young girl, Millie and her sisters would hike the ridge now accessible by the trail. During that time, most of the hill behind Millie’s home was logged, Mader said. There was a clear view of the Olympic Mountains, however, the young sisters at the time believed the mountains were made out of canning jars, Mader said. It was years later that they discovered the surreal, blue mountains were real.
A link from Big Valley Road to the Olympic Property Group trails was on the top of the priority list in the Poulsbo trails plan, Berry-Maraist said. Berry-Maraist had already heard plenty of “thank you’s” from Big Valley residents about the new trail. She expects plenty of neighbors and cyclists to use the trail.
Jackie Lovely, who lives across the street from Millie and the trail, appreciates being able to now ride her bike from her home to Port Gamble. Lovely has lived on Big Valley for 27 years.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said, adding that Millie has been a great neighbor.
The trail connects to nearly 4,000 acres of land and trails owned by Pope Resources. The Pope Resource land is part of the Kitsap Forest and Bay land conservation efforts. The Kitsap Forest & Bay Project is a longtime effort to conserve 6,700 acres and 1.8 miles of shoreline in north Kitsap County. The forests and shorelines have cultural significance to local Tribes and communities; draw thousands of outdoor recreationists annually; and support fish and wildlife in the integrated ecological and watershed systems of Port Gamble Bay, Hood Canal and Central Puget Sound.
Recently, Forterra and Pope Resources signed a purchase and sale agreement for 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline along Port Gamble Bay and State Route 104. Advocates say conservation of the properties will assure protection for and access to the forests that contribute to the health of the Port Gamble and Hood Canal watersheds.
The Kitsap Forest & Bay Project is supported by Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy and many community groups. The parties must finalize fundraising and complete the purchase of the remaining forestlands by March 2014.
Millie’s trail can be accessed from the turnout just before 24472 Big Valley Road. It is for non-motorized access — bikes and pedestrians. There is parking at the trail head for two vehicles at the most. The public is asked to stay on the trail, keep pets leashed, and to pack out trash.