Illahee 9/24/16 Photos, Bremerton Marathon, Fire Update, Port Moving on Store, Timbers Edge Next Steps, 2016 Funding Deadline, Possible Options

Photos.  

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Bremerton Marathon.  Last Saturday morning we watched the Bremerton Marathon runners go by and happened to get a picture of the winner, Megan Morris, early on in the race, along with a sign posted in Illahee.
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Fire Update.  We talked to the person most responsible for helping put out the Illahee Preserve fire on 9/12 and found out the fire ruined his shoes as he was stopping it out and he was worried the flames were going to catch his pant legs on fire.  This is what the area looks like now.  A big thanks again to John and Rochelle for being there and for John taking action to control the fire until Rochelle led the fireman to the fire.
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Port Moving on Store.  The Port of Illahee approved a motion at their 9/14/16 meeting to begin negotiations for the Illahee Store, subject to a number of conditions, including a title search and an inspection of the buried gas tanks.  
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Timbers Edge Phase 2 Next Steps.  The Illahee Preserve group is floundering knowing what it can do now to purchase the remaining 10.7 acres of the Timbers Edge project.  An appropriation request in 2015 failed and a 2016 grant request was just under the funding line.  The exact amount needed to purchase the property is unknown, but based on previous Purchase and Sale Agreements, the amount will be around $820,000  (the last signed agreement was a year ago and had extension fees, which today would increase the purchase amount to roughly $970,000 minus a owner contribution of $150,000 which is where the $820,000 figure comes from.)
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2016 Funding Deadline.  Recently the Preserve group found out the owner needs to sell the project by the end of 2016 to pay off loans.  This is an approved project for 45 homes and offers have been made and without an options agreement, the project could be sold.  The Preserve has been given notice that it needs to come up with the funds to purchase or a plan that will allow the loans to be paid off.
 
Possible Options.  One option that was presented by one individual was to find 45 people who were willing to contribute to the purchase of one or more of the 45 lots, with those with more money helping those who are less able.  That would mean a cost of roughly $18,000 for each lot.  
 
Another option presented later was for a smaller number of people to form a LLC and contribute a total of $200,000 and take out a loan to pay off the property owner, which would provide time to put in for an appropriation or seek other grants, with the understanding if it doesn’t work out the escape clause is the property would be developed and those contributing would probably come out ahead financially.
 
Professional fund raisers would first secure 50 to 75% of the funds from major donors, and then solicit contributions for the remaining funds from the general public.  The problem is finding the major donors with the necessary funds that are willing to commit to the purchase the property.  
 
The Illahee Preserve group is looking for ideas, so if you have some, let us know and we will pass them on.
 
Jim Aho

Illahee 9/12/16 Illahee Preserve FIRE, Sunday Morning Discovery, Monday Morning Fire, Articles Found at Site, More Information Later, Homeless Issue?

Illahee Preserve FIRE.  Thanks to two alert Illahee Preserve walkers, John and Rochelle, who smelled smoke, sought out its source, called 911, and began fire fighting efforts.  By the time we got there the firemen had already arrived and were putting out the fire.

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Sunday Morning Discovery,  Just one day earlier, on Sunday morning the remains of a fire were found.
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Monday Morning FIRE.  The fire on Monday was probably started from a similar small fire.
 
Articles Found at Site.  We heard there were personal items found at the site, but haven’t had a chance to verify what.
 
More Information Later.  We were going out of town when the call came, and we went out to help with a mattock, but when firefighters had it under control, we left.  We will find out more information and report back later.
 
Homeless Issue?  Preserve Stewards have been criticized by some for being heartless for not letting the homeless camp out in the Preserve. Homeless camps are generally places where fires are used and those fires are the main concern as there are over 600 acres of connected forest that could be burned if a major fire erupted.  When you have a forested treasure in your back yard it needs to be protected as do the people who live next to it.
 
Jim Aho

Illahee 9/11/16 Photos, Preserve Camp Site, Preserve Camp Fire, Preserve Work Party, Hearing to be Continued, Port Meets on Wednesday

Photos.  

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Preserve Camp Site.   It took several days for Park Stewards to post this camp site in the Illahee Preserve, but after they did the campers moved out, within the 24 hours required on the post.
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Preserve Camp Fire.  This photo of a fire is what scares Park Stewards as they have been told by local firefighters that they are not prepared or able to fight a forest fire.  This appeared Sunday (9/11/16) morning and was cleaned up by a regular Preserve walker.
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Preserve Work Party.  On Saturday (9/10/16) morning roughly 40-50 adults and children from the LDS church hauled away limbs, moved wood chips to trails, and weeded.  The Preserve is maintained by volunteers like these and we thank them for their hard work at keeping the trails so beautiful. The hope in the fall is to cover as many trails as possible with chips before the rains come.  The photos below shows just how nice the trails look after this work party.
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Hearing to be Continued.  The All Secure Storage hearing was continued as was reported in the previous Update  We saw the following excerpts in an email:
 
What happened was the county, the applicant, and the appellant all agreed a continuance.  The appellant’s attorney asked for a deadline to prelude another long delay and the associated expenses involved, so the HE set a deadline of 180 days (to allow both parties to get new lawyers, since both are moving on), and 30 days before that she wants the exhibit and witness list. 
 
The same attorney suggested 2 meetings for everyone to get together, first to go over the facts, followed by a second meeting, which we presume is to try and come to an agreement.  The HE was reluctant to spell out details so it was agreed DCD would take the lead to set up meetings.
 
Port Meets on Wednesday.  A reminder that the public is invited and encouraged to attend the monthly Port of Illahee meetings, that meet on the second Wednesday of each month beginning at 5 pm.
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Two Complaints.  When we receive two or more complaints it is time to look into a problem.  This was the second complaint:  
 
“The last few days a guy down the beach has been harassing the birds in a yellow jet ski both while in the water and in flight when the birds try to fly away from him, generally about from my place down to the dock.  Do you know if this is legal? “
 
Jim Aho

Illahee 9/7/16 Army Steps In, Hearing Continuance, Corps Response, Continuance Decision, Preserve Request, Hearing Time, Photo

Army Steps In.   The Army Corps of Engineers will evidently take over the wetland determination process.  There were several items of concern such that the Corps has decided to intervene in the wetland issues in the All Secure SEPA appeal that was filed on May 7, 2007 by 17 friends of the Illahee Forest Preserve.  The Preserve hopes the intervention will lead to a conclusion as the appeal process has gone nowhere for 9 years.
 
Hearing Continuance.  Thursday’s scheduled SEPA appeal hearing apparently will be continued to a later date.  We were told that the county, the applicant, and the appellants have now all agreed to a continuance of the hearing pending a definitive determination about the wetlands, which is key to moving forward.  
 
Corps Response.  The Corps response today (9/7/16) evidently convinced the county and the applicant that a continuance is best.
 
Continuance Decision.  With all in agreement the continuance should be granted at the hearing tomorrow morning.
 
Preserve Request.  The Preserve hopes to be able to request direction from the Hearing Examiner to make sure the appeal process doesn’t continue on for another 9 years.
 
Hearing Time.  For those who still want to attend the hearing, we were told the 10 am scheduled hearing may conclude early and to be ready to proceed before the scheduled 11 am scheduled hearing time.  We plan to be there at 10 am.
 
Photo.  For those who aren’t interested in all the hearing information, we have a garden photo for you.
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Jim Aho

Illahee 9/7/16 Preserve/Storage Facility Questions, Location, Plans, Wetlands, Tuesday Site Visit, Wednesday Exhibit List, Thursday Hearing, 7 Day Open Record, More Questions Than Answers, Hearing Attendance

Preserve/Storage Facility Questions.  In the previous update wetland and SEPA appeal issues were discussed but evidently nothing about the Storage Facility that is planned for the site which is bordered by the Illahee Preserve on two sides (north and east).  Plans call for three (3 story) storage buildings, an office and residence on the 3 acre parcel.  More information is available in the Staff Report:   http://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/lu_env/he/reports/cy2016/he-sr-05-27232.pdf.  We have copied the front page of it below.

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Location.  Also copied from the Staff Report is the location.
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Plans.  Again from the Staff Report  
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Wetlands.  And lastly from the Staff Report, is a wetland diagram, which shows a “Hydrologic Break” that the Illahee Preserve folks dispute.
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Tuesday Site Visit.  On Tuesday (9/6/16) eleven people toured the project site and the wetlands that continued on in the Illahee Preserve.  Those attending included:  Representing Kitsap County (Heacock & Smith); the applicant’s attorney, wetland expert, and engineer (Hansen, Myers, & Kuhlman); DFW (Gordon); Suquamish Tribe (O’Sullivan); the Illahee Forest Preserve’s attorney and wetland specialist’s (Vancil, Cooke, & Stricklin), and Illahee Preserve (Aho).
 
Wednesday Exhibit List.  Following the site visit was another deadline as hearing exhibits need to be in by 2 pm on Wednesday (9/7/16).
 
Thursday Hearing.  The hearing is scheduled for 11 am on Thursday (9/8/16) for the SEPA appeal and the Site Plan Review of the Storage Facility.
 
7 Day Open Record.  Notice of the hearing arrived Tuesday (9/6/16) in the mail boxes of those who filed the SEPA appeal and as interested parties.  The notice stated the record of the hearing will remain open for 7 days following the hearing for those who want to comment.  We presume both written and verbal comments can also be presented at the hearing.
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More Questions Than Answers.  Even as we try to follow this closely we have more questions than answers, so if that is your situation, we understand.
 
Hearing Attendance.  We would encourage attendance at the hearing and hope some of those questions will be answered.
 
Jim Aho

Illahee 9/4/16 Spotted Log, Grant Rating Not Good, Preserve Battle, Border Stream and Wetlands, Wetland Views, Wetland Ratings, Preserve Views, Wetland Photos, County vs County, Tuesday Site Visit, Thursday Hearing, Public Comments

Spotted Log.  Where did the spots come from on this log in the Preserve?  A few days later after the rain they were gone (see the third photo).  Ideas?

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Our question was answered by Newberry Hill Heritage Park Steward, Frank Stricklin, who noted they were made by termites.

 
Grant Rating Not Good.  We are copying parts of an email we saw regarding the likelihood of grant funding for the purchase of the remaining 10.7 acres of the Timbers Edge project.  More in the near future.
 
Yesterday we finally received the RCO grant rankings and while we were #10 on the acquisition list (#12 if combinations of acquisitions and park development are counted), there are five ~ $1M projects ahead of us that eat up the bulk of the funding that will likely be available, unless the legislature is extra generous.
 
I talked with our RCO representative for Kitsap County, Kim Sellers, and while she was optimistic because acquisitions are funded before developments, my spreadsheet review of the projects does not leave me encouraged.
 
That said I would like to propose a two-prong approach for you and Mr. Tallman to consider.
 
1.  Since we need an options agreement to be signed within one year of last year’s appraisal, which was September 2, 2015, to keep it in force should grant funding become available, that we sign another options agreement, with interest accruing at the same rate or similar.  That needs to be done tomorrow 9/2/16).
 
2.  Secondly, that in the meantime we work with our elected officials to put in a request for appropriation funding.  Sherry Appleton (Lisa Hardy) has already sent me the form that is needed.  We had their support earlier for the 25 acre purchase, and received letters in support of the grant application.   I also spoke with Frank Chopp several months ago and he is supportive, which does have us encouraged, based on his initial securing of the 352 acre Preserve property, and more recently with securing the final funds for the 25 acres.
 
As an aside, we looked to see why we didn’t fare better with our grant request, and noted that the big acquisition projects ahead of us represented much significantly larger projects than ours.  When the competition is state wide it opened us up to some stiff competition.
 
We will continue to work to do whatever we can to eventually purchase the remaining 10.7 acres, and if you are agreeable to another Options Agreement (so we won’t need another appraisal should grant funding be available), please let us know soonest.
 
Thank you for holding off on your project to give us the opportunity to pursue funding!
Preserve Battle.  A battle is being waged for stream and wetland buffers for the Illahee Preserve.  The developer, and Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development (DCD), want eliminate the buffer requirement for wetlands and streams located on the Illahee Preserve.  They favor allowing a storage project to locate within a few feet of the streams, when 50 foot buffers are required, and they plan to fill the wetland on their side of the property which provides no buffer for the wetlands on the Preserve side, which is why 16 individuals stepped up years ago to fund the appeal of the county’s determination there will be no significant environmental impact.
 
Border Stream and Wetlands.  At the hearing 9 years ago there was no mention of streams and wetlands on the Preserve and their story was the wetlands on their property were only there because they dug up the stumps after logging the site (note that logging over 2 acres and in critical areas requires a logging permit which they did not have).
 
Wetland Views.  Wetlands are important and critical habitat to biologists and the Illahee Preserve Stewards, and can be a nuisance to developers.  The lower the category of wetlands the less impact it has on a project and so one of the arguments here will be to determine whether the wetland ratings were done correctly (it will probably be Ecology who will need to come in and settle the dispute).  
 
Wetland Ratings.  Evidently there are conflicting ratings, which we saw in an email from Ecology (see excerpt below).
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Preserve Views.  The folks who are trying to protect and maintain the Preserve say the stream and wetlands will be significantly impacted by the project, which is why they appealed the project (note they have been told today’s code does not allow for such an appeal).
 
Wetland Photos.  Wetlands are distinguished by a number of different  factors, such as ‘hydric soils’ (19.150.420 Hydric Soils. “Hydric soils” means soils which are wet long enough to periodically produce anaerobic conditions, thereby influencing the growth of hydrophitic plants.) and unique vegetation.  The first photo shows how wet the ground is and what hydric soils can look like.  The other photos following are of devils club, lady fern, cattail, and skunk cabbage.
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Tuesday Site Visit.  Nine years after a Hearing Examiner requirement to get everyone on site (which happened 12/14/07) and come to a consensus (which didn’t happen), and so on 9/6/16 a second site visit will occur, with a hearing to follow two days later (and it will be interesting to see if there is a consensus then).
 
Thursday Hearing.  The hearing is set for Thursday (9/8/16) at 11 am at the County Administration building.  The DCD Staff Report recommends the project be approved and the Illahee Preserve’s SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) appeal be denied.  The staff report can be accessed at:  http://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/lu_env/he/reports/cy2016/he-sr-07-46995.pdf.  To give you an idea of how the staff report works we copied item #1 followed by a county policy document where the Preserve group felt the wetlands and nearly 3 acres size of the site should have required permits.
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Public Comments?  The notice for the hearing went out over a week ago and it is open to the public and we presume the public can comment.  We also presume the record will remain open for awhile after the hearing for those who want to comment.
 
Update Comments?  Your thoughts and input are important and we generally share them in a subsequent update.  We know the above subject isn’t of interest to all, but it is what is happening and the decision will affect affect the Preserve one way or the other.
 
Jim Aho

Illahee 8/26/16 Photo, Preserve Work Party, Water Quality Testing, Grant Rating, Another Public Hearing Notice, Old Case, Kitsap Sun 2007 Coverage, Many Regulatory Agencies Involved, KC Approved Project, Hearing Costs, Next Steps, Update Coverage

Photo.  A box of entries that went to the Kitsap County Fair on Monday.

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Preserve Work Party.  On a hot Friday 53 Washington Youth Academy cadets and their supervisors descended upon the Illahee Preserve to haul and spread wood chips on trails, remove invasive plants, and provide trail maintenance help.  East Bremerton Rotary members arrange for and coordinate these major work parties, which is why the Preserve receives so many compliments for their well groomed and maintained trails.
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This Douglas squirrel was watching over the events, as were some ravens that we weren’t able to get photos of.
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Water Quality Testing.  On Tuesday (8/21/16) water quality monitoring continued at the Port of Illahee dock.  One of the containers tests for metals and the other for chemicals.  Why test in the summer?  Testing now when there is no storm water provides a baseline to compare with tests conducted when stormwater runoff is at its peak.
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Grant Rating.  No report yet on how the Illahee Preserve ranked with other state projects.  Parks personnel were all busy on Friday coordinating work parties like the Preserve one.  It will probably be on Monday before we know more.
 
Another Public Hearing Notice.  This Public Hearing Notice was issued by the County’s Department of Community Development for a Hearing scheduled for September 8th.
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Illahee Greenbelt Community (IGC)?  The notice references an Illahee Greenbelt Community.  It was actually the Illahee Forest Preserve (IFP) non-profit group that was established to support the Preserve that appealed the project.  
 
Old Case.  The SEPA appeal case is almost 10 years old and the county decided to finally try and get the issue resolved.  It must be some kind of record for having a hearing record being open that long.  It made the front page of the Kitsap Sun several times, once in 2007 and again in 2008, and maybe again in 2016?
 
Kitsap Sun Coverage in 2007.  The essence of the case was well described in the following Kitsap Sun article:  http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local/challenge-keeps-illahee-storage-facility-on-hold-ep-423056493-358966941.html
 
Briefly the issue seems to be whether the Preserve should be allowed a buffer for the wetlands and stream that exist on both properties, or if the wetlands on the applicant’s property can be filled and mitigated elsewhere, which would leave the Preserve without a buffer for the wetlands and the stream on Preserve property.  We took a photo of slug as we walked among the skunk cabbage on Thursday to look at wetlands.
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Many Regulatory Agencies Involved.  What makes this case interesting in addition to the basic issue of buffers, is the number of regulatory agencies involved.  They include the Department of Ecology (WDOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), and the Suquamish Tribe.  
 
KC Approved Project.  The project was approved by Kitsap County in April of 2007 and was appealed by the Illahee Forest Preserve (IFP) in May 2007.  A review of the file in 2016 found it essentially the same as in 2007.  As the project lingered over the years, the IFP investigated finding grant money to purchase the property and had even proposed a dog park (with environmental buffers) as they thought funds could be raised for a needed dog park in the East Bremerton area, but nothing materialized.  
 
Hearing Costs.  The IFP has ended up paying out considerable funds to fight the battle at the first hearing, which was followed by wetland expert reports, with lawyer fees in 2014 for meetings with DCD, and now for a fourth expenditure of funds for this next hearing.  The costs are significant, in the many thousands, and the IFP noted they could use help as they try to protect the Preserve interests.
 
Next Steps.  Kitsap County is supposed to issue a Staff Report prior to the hearing explaining their position, which in other counties is normally completed two weeks before a hearing (when notice is given to the public).  Our past experience with DCD is the Staff Report is issued as late as the day of the hearing.  We hope with a new DCD director with a legal background things will or have changed.
 
Update Coverage.  We have asked whether people are interested in our covering these issues, and the consensus has been we should as the Preserve is such a natural treasure for the community and the region.  
Jim Aho

Illahee 8/22/16 Photos, Mail Thefts

Photos.  Another try at posting photos.  A little late on the ships.

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Mail Thefts.  Lots of reports of mail thefts this year with the latest report (received early Saturday morning) below.
All the mailboxes for Rue Villa were opened last night.Most are locking boxes and just had the inlet flap flipped open.A couple of pieces of mail were found on the ground,one from Sunset ave and one from Hicks ave.
Jim Aho
 

Illahee 8/21/16 Photos, Port Hearing Report, Kitsap Sun Port Article, TE Phase 1 Purchase, Contributions Matched, Ranking Critical

Photos.  We are currently having problems with uploading photos so they will come in a later update.

 
Port Hearing Report.  We have been asked when we were going to report on the recent hearing at the Port of Illahee.  The public hearing minutes from the Port’s August 10th meeting are not officially released until they are signed at the next Port of Illahee monthly meeting, which is September 14th.  In the meantime the community was fortunate to have a reporter attend the hearing.

 
Kitsap Sun Port Article.  Christian Vosler, a Kitsap Sun reporter, attended the public hearing last week and wrote the story below, which is also available at the following link: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local/bremerton/port-of-illahee-eyes-vacant-building-as-possible-community-center-39cf9f39-9ce7-1ee1-e053-0100007f6e–389945341.html?d=mobile
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TE Phase 1 Purchase.  Some may not be aware that last year the Illahee Preserve was expanded with the purchase of 25.5 acres of the Timbers Edge (TE) development, which was a combination of community contributions, a salmon recovery grant, and a donation by the property owner and developer.  Few thought it could be done, but it happened because of many of those who receive these Updates contributed.  
 
Contributions Matched.  The most amazing thing happened this year as the Parks Department prepared for a grant to purchase the remaining 10.7 acres of the development (which has been offered to the Preserve for a Phase 2 purchase).  What Parks was able to do is find a grant category that allowed the Phase 1 purchase to qualify as a match.  Parks contributed another match purchase to the grant, which means 95% of the funding has already been raised for the Phase 2 purchase and some pledges have already been received for the remaining 5%.   
 
Ranking Critical.  The project now needs to rank high enough to assure funding.  The following is adapted from an email we saw. 
On Friday (8/12/16) Kitsap County Park’s Planner Steven Starlund presented the TE Phase 2 proposal to the State’s Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) Technical Review Committee meeting in Olympia.  The presentation went well and we are now waiting for the rankings to be finalized and posted, which is scheduled to happen on August 25th.  If the project ranks high a major portion of the funding will be virtually assured and negotiations and funding options will begin in earnest.
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Jim Aho