>Gilberton Creek Project – 4/28/10

>Many Inquiries Re the Gilberton Creek Project.  The Illahee Community Club was asked to write a letter of endorsement of the Gilberton acquisition project, which we hope will come through for them.

Illahee Community Club
PO Box 2357
Bremerton, WA  98310
April 27, 2010
Michael Yadrick
Great Peninsula Conservancy
3721 Kitsap Way, Suite 5
Bremerton, WA  98312
SUBJECT:  Riparian Protection Application –Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition
On behalf of the Illahee Community Club, a not-for-profit corporation organized for area preservation and restoration, we would like to express our strong support for Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition. Protection of the Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor and especially Grahn Cove will be an important step in preserving riparian and critical nearshore habitat on East Kitsap County’s Puget Sound shoreline. The 8-acre Grahn Cove parcel includes a saltwater lagoon (pocket estuary), saltwater marsh, sand spit, extensive tidelands and shoreline, lower reaches of Gilberton Creek, and a small apple orchard.  The project has significant natural habitat and scenic values, potential for low-impact recreation, and historic interest for the community.
This project is important to the Illahee Community specifically because:
  • The headwaters for Gilberton Creek are in the Illahee Community where a good portion of the watershed is situated.
  • The culvert that gave out on December 3, 2007 and resulting in the devastation of the Gilberton Creek riparian corridor also was within the Illahee Community boundary.
  • The Gilberton Community, like the Illahee Community, finds itself with some unique natural features, that are better used by wildlife than for development.
  • The Illahee Community has established wildlife corridors that connect the Cheney Estates with Illahee State Park, and Illahee State Park with the Illahee Preserve.  With your establishing another wildlife area and corridor north of the Illahee Preserve, there is a logical connectedness between all these wildlife areas so that wildlife islands are not created.
  • Our shoreline area connects with your shoreline area and scientists are continuing to understand the importance of the nearshore areas for the health of Puget Sound, and so we support the preservation of the critical nearshore habitat in the area.
Through fee simple acquisition, donation of a conservation easement, and land donation, the project will create a 15-acre, half-mile long wildlife corridor from existing Conservancy land to the Puget Sound shoreline. Because of the terrain between the Illahee Preserve and the acquisition area, we would suggest there may be a secondary wildlife between the Conservancy land and the Illahee Preserve.
Also, the conservation of Grahn Cove and adjoining parcels will permanently protect a unique natural area along a highly impacted shoreline.   Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated pocket estuaries like Grahn Cove as priority habitat for conservation.  While individually small, together they play a huge role in the health of Puget Sound salmon and forage fish populations.
Historically, Grahn Cove was a traditional clamming and encampment site for the Suquamish People, as well as a popular way point on the Mosquito Fleet ferry system. Without protection, the estuary is threatened by development because it is desirable waterfront property.  Conservation of this unique property will protect critical shoreline habitat, while providing opportunities for limited public access by small boat, reflecting traditional use of the site.
The Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) has a long history and solid reputation for preserving and stewarding important natural habitats across Kitsap, Mason, and west Pierce counties.  The Illahee Community Club is pleased to be a partner with GPC in this conservation project.  We pledge our endorsement and support as a neighbor and partner of preserving and protecting our natural features and specifically for the Gilberton Creek project acquisitions.
Barney Bernhard, President
Additional Gilberton Creek Information.  Attached is a Gilberton Corridor Map that will explain much of the project as well as the attached basics below.

 The basics of the “Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor Acquisition” project are:
Great Peninsula Conservancy will permanently protect a half-mile long Gilberton Creek Wildlife Corridor linking 4 acres of existing Conservancy lands on the lower reaches of Gilberton Creek with a small pocket estuary on Puget Sound’s Port Orchard Bay, known as Grahn Cove.  The objectives of the project are to conserve important natural habitat while providing for low-impact public use by small boats as part of the Cascadia Marine Trail.  The current fee-title acquisition will add approximately 8 acres of tidelands, shoreline, lagoon, creek, and upland to the corridor. Complementing the fee acquisition, GPC will also accept approximately 4 acres of donated conservation easement and donated land along lower Gilberton Creek, which will bring the total protected area to approximately 15 acres.  The site has special natural habitat and scenic values, potential for low-impact recreation, and historic interest for the community. Please see the attached draft project map.
Grahn Cove was a popular summer campsite for Native Americans and a way point on the Mosquito Fleet Ferry operated by the Grahn family during the first half of the 20th century.  Descendants of the Grahn family that homesteaded the property in 1898 are working with Great Peninsula Conservancy to permanently protect this unique natural area.  The Grahn Cove parcel alone has: (1) approximately 4 acres of shoreline, stream, cove, and upland; (2) approximately 4 acres of tidelands to extreme low tide; (3) 370 feet of natural Puget Sound shoreline as measured straight across the parcel; (4) approximately 200 feet on both sides of Gilberton Creek as it passes through a flat-bottomed, steep ravine with mature forest at the top; and (5) an old apple orchard with 125 feet of no-bank shoreline suitable for public access by small boat.
The project encompasses a beautiful natural area where freshwater from Gilberton Creek meets saltwater at Grahn Cove on Port Orchard Bay. Grahn Cove has particularly high conservation value as a small sub-estuary on West Puget Sound, providing nearshore estuarine habitat for a variety of fish, birds, and other wildlife. Nearly 26% of the pocket estuaries identified around Puget Sound are stressed by urbanization. Of the 65 pocket estuaries in East Kitsap County (link to the Kitsap pocket estuary map), the Puget Sound Partnership characterizes only 20 as “properly functioning.” Until December 3, 2007, Grahn Cove would have fit in this category.  Tragically, a culvert under Illahee Road, one mile upstream from the mouth, washed out in a major storm event at that time.  The floodwaters carved a 35 foot high gap in Illahee Road and filled the  estuary with debris and sediment. Plans for restoring the cove should be finalized in the next few weeks and restoration is anticipated to occur during the summer of 2010.
 Conservation of Grahn Cove is important because the sheltered Port Orchard Bay marine passage between Bainbridge Island and mainland Kitsap County is used during a critical time in the development of juvenile salmon as well as many important forage fish, including sand lance, surf smelt, sculpins, and herring.  Grahn Cove and beach is a documented spawning ground for both Pacific herring and sand lance, which are important forage fish for seabirds, marine mammals as well as juvenile and adult salmon.  Pacific herring is a federal species of concern and a state candidate species. Sand lance is on WDFW’s priority species list.
Similarly, intertidal ’embayments and pocket beaches’ like Grahn Cove are a WDFW priority habitat.  Juvenile salmon utilize these pocket estuaries at a critical stage of their life cycle for feeding and refuge.   Young salmon travel from pocket estuary to pocket estuary by traveling along a low salinity wedge of water along the shoreline.  Freshwater creeks such as Gilberton Creek play an important role in maintaining this low salinity shoreline zone. Grahn Cove provides an important link between Illahee Creek to the south and Steele Creek to the north.  Importantly, a variety of birds also use the site including greater yellow leg, dunlin, American wigeon, bufflehead, Barrow’s goldeneye, cormorants, kingfisher, bald eagle, and pileated woodpecker. Additionally, the no bank shoreline and the tidelands that surround the lagoon contain shellfish beds for little neck clam, butter clam, cockerel and geoduck.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 4/27/10


Rain Garden Mulching.  On April 17th six brave souls braved the rain and weeded and mulched one and a third of the five rain garden plots at the Illahee Preserve’s Almira parking lot.  It was a good start, but much more is needed to be done as can be seen from this photo. 

CK Student Help.  On Saturday, May 1st, we have heard that CK schools are having a special day for students to volunteer to help in their community and the Illahee Preserve was one of the areas selected.  We said we could use help with the weeding and mulching effort that began a few weeks ago.  They are scheduled to begin at 10 am and we hope they will be able to finish the project, and that we will have enough wood chips to go around.

New Goslings.  A new family of Canada geese have adopted our yard, see the attached photo.  While they leave a trail of droppings, some of our family think we can live with them.  I’m not sure how long the relationship will last as soon we will plant the rest of our garden.

Stillwater’s Ecofest.  We attended the Sillwater’s Ecofest in Kingston this past Saturday and found many interesting exhibits, with the most surprising being a small compact A-frame chicken coop, see the attached photo.  With all the discussions going on in Bremerton about chickens, we thought this concept would be one that many could live with.  We just had to pass the picture on.

Legal Questions Are Being Asked.  Lots of questions being asked about Timbers Edge, the Circuit Court Appeal, the Shorelines Hearings Board Appeal, and a wetlands project that was recessed by the Hearing Examiner about 3 years ago.  We will be trying to get some answers and pass the information on.  Let us know if you have questions about community issues and we will see what we can do to answer them.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 4/20/10


Short Nesting Time for Local Canada Goose.  Four days and two eggs was all a local Canada Goose had for her nesting effort before some animal, probably a raccoon or possum, found her nest.  We heard the commotion at 2 am and in the morning found the two broken egg shells on the grass the next morning, along with a sad looking female goose.

Young Eagle Thinks Twice About Taking on One of the Geese.  A few days after the above event a young bald eagle started to swoop down on one of the Canada Geese, and only backed off when the goose flared its wings.  We have watched eagles attach Canada geese before but they are usually just a lone goose on the beach. 

Deer Reports.  When their raspberry bed looked like a bunch of sticks sticking up out of the ground, one resident put up a new 7′ high fence around the area.  He said three deer were visiting the bed every night until they had decimated nearly all the raspberries.  A neighbor tried to shoo the deer away and found them reluctant to leave the area.  So far the netting has worked and they said they found the netting at Lowes for $12 something and it was 7′ by 100′ which is reported to be a good price.  

Rainy Day for Rain Garden Mulching.  There were 6 brave souls who weeded and mulched two of the Illahee Preserve Almira parking lot rain garden plots on Saturday, April 17th.  It was suggested that a week day after-work evening be scheduled for finishing the mulching as many have their Saturdays already booked.

Red Elderberry Being Pulled Up.  We have has several people concerned that someone is going through the Preserve pulling out Red Elderberry plants.  These are good native plants and we are wondering if someone might be thinking they are invasive species, as there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation for their actions.  If you see anyone pulling these plants out, please let us know by calling 479-1049.

Brush Pickers.  There have been reports that there are brush pickers in the Preserve recently and specifically the last two days.  This is illegal activity and they need to be reported by calling 911 or by calling us at 479-1049.  

Rogue Trail Makers.  We have also heard that there are rogue trails being cut through the Preserve.  Any new trail needs to be approved by the Stewardship Committee and the Parks Department.  There are no new trails being established at this time.  If you see someone cutting a trail, please call the Park’s Department or 479-1049.

Illahee Preserve Stewardship Meeting Tonight (4/20/10).  The Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee meets the third Tuesday of each Month at the Port of Illahee office at 5560 Ocean View Boulevard, between 6:30 and 8:00 pm, and anyone is welcome to attend.  For more information call 479-1049 or 792-6934.

Gutter System?  We have been asked by someone who is considering having a gutter system installed, if there are any happy residents out there who have a recommendation.  Let us know and we will pass the information on.

Jim Aho

>Weeding and Mulching Work Party on Saturday – 4/15/10

>Work Party Reminder Requested.  We have been asked to remind everyone of Saturday’s (4/17/10) weeding and mulching work party for the native plant demonstration rain garden plots at the Illahee Preserve’s Almira parking lot.  The information was presented in the last update and read as follows:

Rain Garden Weeding & Mulching Party Scheduled for April 17th.  Over a month ago, on March 6th, nearly 25 volunteers planted over 500 native plants in 5 rain garden plots.  It is now time to weed those plots and mulch around the plants so we will be ready for a hopefully weed free summer and with a thick layer of mulch, a summer of minimal watering.  Our volunteer botanist, Aimee Weber, will be on hand to make sure we are taking out only the weeds and not some recently planted or emerging native plants.  The weeding and mulching party will begin at 9 am on Saturday, April 17th, and should finish by 11 am.  We will need some extra wheel borrows to haul the wood chips we are using as mulch.  If you have any questions call Aimee at 405-1613 or myself at 479-1049.

Jim Aho

>Illahee Preserve Items – 4/8/10


New Update Recipients.  We have a number of new recipients of our Updates, with many being users of the Preserve.  We want to let them know that the Illahee Preserve is a Kitsap County Heritage Park purchased in 2001.  It is the result of a 25 year community campaign to preserve this former Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land and sections of the Illahee Creek watershed for future generations.  The campaign and vision continues with community volunteers taking the lead in planning, supporting, and maintaining the Preserve.  This is especially significant during tough economic times when some parks close because of strapped local budgets.  The goal of the Preserve is to only ask for county support for major things like parking lots and restrooms, and we were happy to have the county park’s build the new Almira parking lot in 2009.

Illahee Preserve – Almira Parking Lot.   The main entrance to the Illahee Preserve is at the Almira parking lot where eventually there will be a restroom (the sewer line is already in), an anticipated shelter similar to the one at Anna Smith park, a play area for children consisting on natural features such as rocks and wood, and a large “dedication rock” that was unearthed when the parking lot was being constructed.

Dedication Rock.   The large polymorphic erratic rock that was found during the parking lot construction was considered a convenient find.  The construction team was considering burying it, which is what they usually do, but thought it so unique they asked if we wanted it left exposed.  The first thought was to put it directly in the line of sight as cars entered the parking lot and thus its current placement.   At an estimated 8 – 9 tons it did sink into the ground in its current location and when the maintenance gate for the detention pond was installed the anticipated “prominent” locating became more obscure, which then prompted the Stewardship Group and their Non-profit Support Group (the Illahee Forest Preserve Corporation) to find a better and  more prominent location for the rock.

New Rock Location.  It took months of discussion and input from many to determine where best to place the dedication rock.  Even at that it was decided to make the rock foundation semi-permanent in case a better location might be found when the future restroom, shelter, and play area were constructed.  So the foundation for the rock consists of a dug out area roughly 3′ by 11′ in which a geo grid mesh was placed, which was filled with crushed rock, and a generous dressing of washed 3/4″ river rock.  Some have said the rectangular site looks like a grave.

Moving the Rock.  The next step in the process is to get the rock moved from its current location to the new more prominent site described above.  Chico Towing has volunteered to help with getting the rock moved and is currently researching how to make it happen.  They can move the rock, but feel getting in properly situated at the new site may require some more sophisticated equipment, so they are currently working on those issues.  We will be there with our cameras when the rock is moved into location.

Dedication Plaque and Art Work.  A polymorphic erratic rock like this warrants some special attention and the Stewardship Group and the Non-profit support group are working together to determine what art work can be inscribed on the rock, and what a dedication plaque should say.  We have heard they are talking with a talented rock artist about what might be done.

Future Restroom.  In our discussions with Preserve people they say they are looking for a future restroom similar to the one the county put in at Old Mill Park in Silverdale.  The sewer line for the restroom was installed when the parking lot was put in so only a water line would need to be required.  We hope this is an item in the Park’s Department budget in the near future.

Future Shelter.  When some of the Preserve group noticed the relatively new shelter at Anna Smith Park near Silverdale, they said that something like this is what is needed at the Almira entrance site.  Let member of the Preserve groups know if you agree.

Future Play Area.  Long ago when the Stewardship Committee and the Park’s Department were working on the Stewardship Plan for the newly acquired DNR land, it was decided the area should be a nature and wildlife preserve, and thus the name Illahee Preserve.  The plan called for an emphasis on the natural features, and so when a play area was being discussed it was decided it should be one of primarily natural materials such as rocks and logs.

Demonstration Native Plant Rain Garden.  The Demonstration Native Plant Rain Garden also fits the emphasis on natural features, in this case being native plants, which are more drought tolerant than may others.  The key to the rain garden will be signage that will explain the rain garden concept to encourage all homeowners to consider residential rain gardens for their home sites.

Rain Garden Weeding & Mulching Party Scheduled for April 17th.  Over a month ago, on March 6th, nearly 25 volunteers planted over 500 native plants in 5 rain garden plots.  It is now time to weed those plots and mulch around the plants so we will be ready for a hopefully weed free summer and with a thick layer of mulch, a summer of minimal watering.  Our volunteer botanist, Aimee Weber, will be on hand to make sure we are taking out only the weeds and not some recently planted or emerging native plants.  The weeding and mulching party will begin at 9 am on Saturday, April 17th, and should finish by 11 am.  We will need some extra wheel borrows to haul the wood chips we are using as mulch.  If you have any questions call Aimee at 405-1613 or myself at 479-1049.

Related Item – Jim Trainer Recognition.  The Illahee Preserve and the Illahee Community are fortunate to have a resident forester whose name is Jim Trainer who is always supportive of our natural resources and especially trees.  Jim will be recognized for the planting of his millionth tree at the Central Kitsap Community Council Town Hall Meeting.  It will be Wed 4/21 at 7pm at the Jenne Wright CKSD Admin Building on Silverdale way and Munson.  Residents and Preserve users are invited.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 4/2/10

>Illahee Speed Sign.  It was interesting to read in today’s Kitsap Sun the article “Three ‘Your Speed Is’ Signs Now Operating” by Travis Baker, the Road Warrior, that there are two other solar powered speed signs operating in Kitsap County.  We were unable to find a link to the article today, and presume it will be added later, so when we find it we will put it in a later Update.

Last week we did receive information that the sign is slowing traffic some.  Below is the notice we received from the Port of Illahee, and attached as a pdf file is the chart they refer to.

I thought you might like to see the statistics of our labor. I’ve attached a chart showing the speeds before and after the sign was put up. You’ll see a high point at the 25-29 mph which means more motorists are driving near the speed limit now. We have also reduced the number of speeders significantly. The number of motorists over the speed limit dropped from 622 to only 428, a 31% decrease. I hope the community has noticed a change out there.

Illahee Deer.  We did receive some pictures of deer recently, and with the white hindquarters it appears the albino genetic markings are still prevalent.  

Here is our most recent deer family in our back yard, they come almost every other day.

Illahee Code Revision.  With the Illahee Community Plan that was adopted at the end of 2008 were zoning requirements, including an item that needs to corrected. See the email we received from Katrina Knutson, the Planner who coordinated the preparation of the Illahee Community Plan. (Note that the staff report she refers to is attached as an executive summary.)

Attached, please find a staff report to the Planning Commission regarding the Illahee Greenbelt Zone.  It came to our attention recently that “Guest House” was inadvertently left out of the Illahee adopting Ordinance.  We need to correct the situation. 
Please take a look at the attached and contact me with any questions.  The Planning Commission will hold a work-study session and a public hearing at their April 6, 2010 meeting.  The meeting will begin at 6pm and is located at 614 Division Street  Port Orchard, WA  98366.  

There was also a Legal Notice entitled “Notice of Planning Commission Regular Meeting, Public Hearing, and Work Study” the past two weeks in the Bremerton Patriot and the Central Kitsap Reporter that the Planning Commission will be working on the “Illahee Code Revision” at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 6th, at 6 pm at the County Administration Building.  The agenda for the meeting is linked:  http://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/pc/agenda/cy2010/4-06-10.pdf

Illahee Preserve.  A number of different items forwarded to us regarding the Illahee Preserve – see the attached.

Illahee Forest Brush Picking
It appears to be harvest season in Illahee Forest and brush-picking is a thriving business.  I’ve had 5 different people tell me stories of their encounters with brush-pickers on various occasions within Illahee Forest over the past 3 weeks.  A couple people have had multiple encounters.  The activity has ranged from Doe Trail to the area along Thompson Lane all the way back to Heart of the Forest.  In most cases the people have confronted the brush-picker.  The brush-pickers are commonly described as small stature and Central American appearance.  The response by the brush picker is gamesmanship.  English is not spoken.  The observers have witnessed large bales of accumulated brush.  It appears the pickers are most often in Illahee Forest during the work week and during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon time lines.  I’ve encouraged all the observers to immediately call 911, but nobody had thought to do so yet.   It would sure be nice to make an introduction between brush-pickers and Kitsap County Sheriff.   Something to keep in mind in case you’re walking the trails during the week. 

Illahee Forest Dumping
Below is a report from one of the regular trail walkers at Illahee Forest.  It was only a matter of time.  What is the cost of removing/dumping garbage versus fixing the gate?  Of course, the bad guys now understand they can have their way for a while if they continue to bash the gate and break it. 

Took a walk along the gravel road at the preserve yesterday.  
Sad to say that the trashers have been in there, dumping their loads.
There is now a mattress on the left side going north, and closer to the gate, on the right side there are some car doors, a car’s seat, and numerous plastic bags of “something” (I did not go down the slight slope to check out)

Our Response to the Above Attached Preserve Comments.  Some of the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee members have been out looking this week for those picking brush and have not discovered them, though the Preserve is large and forested at hundreds of acres so it could be difficult to find them.  We did see the dumping of trash along Thompson Lane, along with lots of salal cuttings and wonder if the cuttings were from the brush pickers.  If you see any illegal activities in the Preserve call 911 or the Parks Department, or any of the Stewardship Committee members.  Also, we heard the Park’s Department went out for bids to fix the gate and the estimates were just shy of $2,000.  Our recommendation is that the security camera be upgraded before the gate is fixed so that we can positively identify any who might be responsible for the destruction of the gate opening mechanism.

Jim Aho