The Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park (PGFHP) history starts back in 2007 when Pope Resources (now Rayonier) announced they would be selling off their timber holdings in North Kitsap. What was once Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish tribal land with thousands of years of history, and then a Pope timber tree farm for the past 160 years, was now for sale.
For decades, the community of North Kitsap had been given access to walk, bike and horseback ride within the privately owned Timber Farm owned by Olympic Resource Management, (Pope Resources). So it was natural to think of transitioning the property to a permanent park when Pope Resources wanted to sell their holdings in Kitsap County.
Olympic Resource Management proposed that they would/could sell it to the public to become a park in Kitsap County. The choices were either the development of 20 acre residential parcels, or parkland for the community.
Collaboration for Conservancy
The community sprang into action and wrote the North Kitsap Trails Plan. A coalition of community organizations and individuals, with guidance from Great Peninsula Conservancy, created the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project to raise money to buy the land.
An astounding $11,685,000 was raised from a variety of sources through partnerships developed through Forterra, the S’Klallam and Suquamish Tribes, Kitsap County and of course Pope Resources. $3,300,000 of that money came from individual donors from the local community. After a decade’s long commitment to create a “String of Pearls” of parks in the county, by December 2017, Kitsap County acquired:
- North Kitsap Heritage Park
- an easement and successful acquisition of The Divide property
- 3500 acres of land for the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park
First We Bought the Land
There are 3 sections of the PGFHP referred to as:
- Shoreline block (500 acres)
- Eastern block (1500 acres)
- Western block (1500 acres)
The Shoreline block is a gorgeous forest with a mix of conifers and rich understory. It came at a cost of $4.5 million for 500 acres. At this first acquisition, the community and the county realized that their dollars were not going to stretch very far.
A tough trade-off was made for the remaining 3,000 acres. The choice was made to buy more land while the opportunity was available (saving the land from development), but leave the timber rights with the seller (now Rayonier) for 25-year harvest period until 2038. This has allowed the community more time to raise the funds to buy the trees.
Now We Protect the Trees
Our Forest Fund was set up to collect funds to conserve as many trees as quickly as possible, by purchasing the timber rights. Our goal is sustainable forestry with diverse ages and species. Time is of the essence. Please consider making your tax-deductible donation today!