$14M awarded for Port Gamble land, shoreline

PORT GAMBLE — The Kitsap Forest & Bay Project has been awarded more than $14 million from various funding sources to protect 6,700 acres and 1.8 miles of shoreline in and around Port Gamble, as of July 23.

The project’s partners, called the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition, have until Aug. 31 to have all the purchase and sale agreements signed, said Liz Johnston, Forterra’s conservation transactions director. But the coalition has until March 2014 to collect any other funding. 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 coalition began looking into the gaps in funding, exploring other financing options and how the funding will be spent, Johnston said. The Department of Ecology is currently reviewing how it wants its $5 million used for the Port Gamble Bay shoreline, she said.

“There are still some decisions to be made on how some of funding going to be spent,” Johnston said. “Now is the time to make some of those decisions and continue moving forward.”

The Coalition is looking for more funding for the 664-acre Divide Block and 3,316-acre Port Gamble Upland Block. It has not made a decision on the 1,784-acre Hansville Block. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has shown interest in investing in the Hansville Block, which borders the reservation to the north.

What was approved in the state Legislature’s budget plan:

From the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program: 
— $1.25 million to buy 600 acres, with 1.78 miles of shoreline and tidelands, along the west side of Port Gamble Bay.
— $166,358 to protect 180 acres in the Grover’s Creek watershed. The project conserves interconnected, highly functioning creek bank habitat in the lower reach of Grover’s Creek, 1.1 miles upstream from Miller Bay. Johnston said they may still receive the full $1 million their grant proposal asked for. 
— $392,000 to buy 470 acres for the North Kitsap Heritage Park. This purchase, when added to a first phase, would conserve 900 acres in Kingston’s urban growth boundary.

From the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account program: 
— $1 million for the 600 acres, with 1.78 miles of shoreline and tidelands, along the west side of Port Gamble Bay.

Funding awarded before July 1: 
— From the State of Washington: $7 million toward purchase of Port Gamble Bay Shoreline. Distribution of this funding was tied to agreement by Department of Ecology and Pope Resources on a final cleanup plan for Port Gamble Bay.
— From U.S. Navy Mitigation Agreement with the three S’Klallam bands: $3.05 million toward purchase of Port Gamble Bay Shoreline and/or Port Gamble Upland.
— From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: $1 million for acquisition of Port Gamble Bay Shoreline.
— From U.S. Forest Service: $400,000 for the Heritage Park Expansion Block.



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