PORT GAMBLE — Forterra has signed a purchase and sale agreement with Pope Resources to acquire 366 acres of community forest and open space in north Kitsap County for permanent conservation.
The signing, announced by Forterra on Thursday, took place Aug 21.
The purchase will expand North Kitsap Heritage Park. It is the second purchase and sale agreement signed as part of the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, an effort to conserve 6,700 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline around Port Gamble Bay.
Forterra signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Port Gamble Shoreline Block, which consists of 564 acres and 1.8 miles of shoreline, in May. Olympic Property Group President Jon Rose and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said that within a month they will begin negotiating the Tribe’s possible purchase of the 1,784-acre Hansville Block adjacent to the Tribe’s reservation.
Remaining are the Port Gamble Upland Block, 3,316 acres; and the Divide Block, 664 acres. Forterra has until the end of the year to sign purchase and sale agreements on those blocks, and until March to close on the acquisitions. The acquisitions are being funded by a mix of federal and state sources.
The North Kitsap Heritage Park is a 433-acre forest located southwest of Kingston. It contains hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails, and wildlife habitat. Pope Resources owns the adjacent property and has managed it as timberland for more than 100 years. With increased population pressure, the property is at risk of being developed for residential and commercial real estate.
Upon closing of the transaction, Forterra will transfer ownership of the property to Kitsap County, protecting these 366 acres in perpetuity and expanding the park to more than 800 acres total.
“With terrific trails, eco-tourism, critical wildlife habitat and more, the North Kitsap Heritage Park is an invaluable resource,” Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder said in a press release issued by Fortress. “Expansion of the park is a win-win for Kitsap County and our environment, as well as the realization of a long term community goal.”
The property is comprised of a lowland forest with a highly functional ecosystem and contains the headwaters of two priority salmon-bearing streams, Grover’s Creek and Carpenter Creek. It also contains wetlands and is a regionally significant aquifer recharge area. It serves as critical habitat for a host of wildlife. The addition of this property provides a critical link in the regional trail system known as the String of Pearls.
“This purchase and sale agreement reinforces the Kitsap-wide commitment to retaining our forested natural heritage in central Puget Sound,” said Michelle Connor, Forterra executive vice president. “Kitsap County has demonstrated the determination necessary to pull off such an ambitious effort and Pope Resources has given us the chance to get this nearly to the finish line.”
In the press release, OPG's Rose said, “We introduced the idea of developing the Heritage Park on our Kingston property during a community-wide visioning process in 2004. After closing on roughly half the property, we and the county were unsuccessful in raising funds for the rest. Now, after 10 years of partnership, it looks as if everyone’s patience and perseverance will pay off.
The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project is an effort by Kitsap County, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy, local and state agencies, and a coalition of business and community groups.
In 2011, Forterra signed a purchase option agreement with landowner Pope Resources, giving the partners the time to raise funds and perform due diligence necessary to move toward acquisition.