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Heritage Park volunteers blazing trails for all to enjoy

KINGSTON – It could be called the turn lane to nowhere.

On Miller Bay Road south of Kingston, the recently constructed lane veers east and ends abruptly in a dirt parking lot beside an abandoned building.

Someday this will be the entrance to the planned 850-acre North Kitsap Heritage Park, where Kitsap County has plans for a network of trails and play fields. Someday could be a long way off, as the county is still looking for grants to purchase the final 380 acres from Olympic Property Group and has little money for park construction.

Instead, a volunteer group has taken the lead in improving the park, blazing trails from the Miller Bay entrance.

County Park Stewardship Coordinator Lori Raymaker said the the North Kitsap Heritage Park Stewardship Group, after North End residents approached the county about clearing trails on the land.

“Basically the county realized that if there was going to be any work done, it would have to be done by volunteers,” Raymaker said.

In its roughly one year of existence, the stewardship group’s core of volunteers has made progress clearing the existing more than six miles of trail, which are already popular with some North End residents.

The county supplies the group with tools and materials, and the volunteers cooperate with Olympic Property Group to work on land not yet owned by the county.

Most of the trail work has involved clearing overgrown brush that choked the paths.

“There’s a huge Scotch broom problem,” Dave DeBruyn of the stewardship group said. “It just closes them up.”

The group’s next focus will be the entrance itself, where they plan to expand the parking area and post official signs over the winter with the help of the county. They will also be installing a kiosk with maps and information.

Most of the stewardship group’s improvements are meant to be temporary, and will be built over as the county carries out its master plan for the park.

But North Kitsap Trails Association Vice President John Willett said the group’s work is already appreciated.

“It’s amazing what they’ve done,” he said. “Last spring, this was nothing.”

To join the Heritage Park volunteer effort, contact Kitsap County Parks Stewardship Coordinator Lori Raymaker at lraymake@co.kitsap.wa.us.

More information on the plans for Heritage Park can be found on the Kitsap County Web site.

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