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A big step for Kitsap Forest & Bay project | In Our Opinion
Suddenly, it’s all real.
Forterra and Pope Resources signed a purchase and sale agreement Wednesday for one of five blocks of land Pope is selling in North Kitsap.
The purchase of the Shoreline Block — 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles (7,920 feet) of shoreline on Port Gamble Bay — is a critical part of preserving the cleanup of the bay. It also creates, according to research by Olympic Property Group, the largest public open space on Hood Canal.
Dosewallips State Park is 425 acres, with 5,500 feet of saltwater shoreline on Hood Canal and 5,400 feet of freshwater shoreline on either side of the Dosewallips River.
Purchases of more blocks should follow. The Shoreline Block cost $4 million; all told, the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition raised $12 million. Still under consideration: the Port Gamble Upland Block, 3,316 acres; Hansville Block, 1,784 acres; Divide Block, 664 acres; and Heritage Park Expansion Block, 366 acres.
What the Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition has accomplished since this effort was launched 18 months ago is nothing short of a miracle: Consider that the previous effort, the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership, fizzled in 2011. It was revived as the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, involving county, state, federal and tribal governments; 31 community partners; and a wide array of funding sources, some of it tied to legislation and a cleanup agreement for the old Port Gamble mill site.
The coalition notified Pope Resources in March that it had raised money for acquisition and wanted to exercise its option. The coalition now has until March 28, 2014 to receive any grant funding it has applied for, and to complete the purchases. How much land and shoreline the coalition acquires will be determined in negotiations with Pope Resources.
Conservation of these lands will help sustain the region's quality of life, environmental health, and economic vitality. It will preserve open space for public use, conserve wildlife habitat, protect the bay and its watershed, and create economic opportunity associated with outdoor recreation and ecotourism.
High congratulations are in order for all of the parties involved in bringing this long effort to this point.
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Advocates for conservation of Pope Resources’ lands in North Kitsap say the acquisition will preserve open space for public use, conserve wildlife habitat, protect the bay and its watershed, and create economic opportunity associated with outdoor recreation and ecotourism.
How do you think the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project will change North Kitsap? What would you like to see result from the acquisition of Pope Resources’ lands in North Kitsap?
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