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Hansville Greenway Trails took gumption and perseverance

Sid Knutson and Ken Shawcroft walk along the pathway of the Hansville Greenway after installing some new signage.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Sid Knutson and Ken Shawcroft walk along the pathway of the Hansville Greenway after installing some new signage.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

HANSVILLE – It took passion and commitment to complete the Hansville Greenway Trails and Sid Knutson was the man for the job. His marriage, currently of 61-and-a-half years, was the perfect practice for developing the trails — a project he’s been working on for the last quarter of his life.

In the middle of Hansville, there are 300 acres of the protected Hansville Greenway preserving both idyllic nature sites and memories of beloved community members.

The now-complete eight miles of interconnected trails wind around protected wetlands, including two beaver ponds, Hawks Hole Creek and Buck Lake. It also showcases five memorials.

A celebration takes place this Saturday for Knutson’s 18-year-old vision — and the naming of his own honorary Sid Knutson’s Puget Sound to Hood Canal trail.

“I’ve stayed with it all these years and I’m not through with it yet,” he said.

Knutson, who turned 83 at the beginning of August, worked on all eight miles of the trails, helped prepare more than a foot tall worth of reports to gain county support and still prepares plans for the trails’ futures.

“To me what the Hansville Greenway is is first a wildlife preserve and nature sanctuary,” Knutson said. “We needed to get people in there to show them how important that is so we needed the trails. Even though the trails are secondary they had to be done first.”

Ask Jeanne, his wife, and she’ll say it’s his diplomatic nature that’s gotten him this far with the trails. She might have played a part in it, too.

“He doesn’t rile people up because he’s used to living with me,” she said laughing.

The vision started when he and his wife purchased 10 acres of land between two beaver ponds. The couple believed it should be preserved and used for generations to witness nature in its habitat. They gifted it to the Great Peninsula Conservancy to maintain.

“It just makes sense to me. Nowadays, community planners are thinking that parks, open space and trails are just as important as other necessary structures and I agree with that,” said Knutson, who worked as a civil engineer for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers before he retired.

Planning, he said, will forever remain in his blood.

“The next phase of the greenway is to protect and enhance it as a sanctuary,” he said.

Although the plans were an important step, ask Knutson about what trail-making is like and suddenly he’s 20 years younger. His eyes light up and a broad smile takes over his face.

“That’s the fun part. I certainly don’t ever consider it a chore,” Knutson said.

Looking back on the project and all the hoops and grant competitions he’s worked so hard for, he’s not convinced it would be easy to do again.

“It’s hard to realize it actually happened,” he said. “It seems it would be impossible now.”

Knutson said it wouldn’t have come together in any other community, not without the support of local volunteers, the Hansville Greenway Association and his dear friends in the Coffee Klatch — a group of Hansville men known for stirring up more than their morning coffee.

“Hansville has got to be the greatest community for volunteers that’s ever existed,” he said. “You can do it in Hansville. I felt as soon as we moved out here just this marvelous sense of community. You can just feel it.”

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