Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) re
Petition to Help Save Illahee Creek & Puget Sound
Based on questions asked at earlier information meetings, as well as comments, phone calls, emails, and some research, we have compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). These FAQs are intended to provide responses to some of the most commonly asked questions of the Illahee Community Club (ICC) and the Port of Illahee. If you have a question not included here, or simply would like to discuss particular concerns further, please do not hesitate to contact us at the community website: illaheecommunity.com.
NOTE: When the subject petition was initially prepared, the Port of Illahee promptly responded to the request for help. The Port hired a grant writer to see if grant funding was available and they talked with a land trust. Neither of those first efforts brought about a quick solution, and the petition distribution, which was hoping to report on those efforts, stalled with 850 petitions yet to distribute.
PETITION EFFORT TO CONTINUE: While we wish the Port could have found a quick solution, the ICC needs to continue the petition effort to know how the residents of Illahee feel about this important issue. The Illahee Community has already spent over $50,000 to minimize the negative impact of the Timbers Edge development on the creek and the aquifers, with limited success. And having come this far, with an offer from the developer to sell the property, we feel we need to resume the petition drive and continue to press for an acceptable resolution, as that appears to be what the community wants (see the response to Question 19).
1. Why are you circulating this petition? We are circulating the petition because we want to know the wishes of Illahee residents. And, we are requesting Port action because we have nowhere else to turn to at this time.
The Illahee Community Club dropped its Shorelines Hearings Board suit so the Illahee Preserve could receive 21 acres of Open Space land. As part of the negotiations, the developer has further offered to sell the remaining development land to the Port of Illahee. We are circulating the petition because in land acquisitions, when you have a willing seller, you need to act within the time limit given, which in this case is a September 2010 deadline.
2. Why is the Timbers Edge property important? The TE property is at a strategic location along the main stem of the creek and also the South Fork, and is important from storm water, aquifer, and fish bearing perspectives. The entire area is a Critical Aquifer Recharge Area requiring additional protections. Instead, storm water is being proposed to be tight-lined to an outfall near the mouth of Illahee Creek which deprives the aquifers of replenishment ground water (see Question 5 for more aquifer information).
3. What is so important about maintaining Illahee Creek as a fish bearing stream? This question has been raised by both outsiders and more recently by an Illahee resident. Our only answer is that the creek, though small, has produced fish and salmon in the past and continues to do so. Fisheries biologists have noted Coho, chum, cut-throat, and steelhead in the stream and their biggest concern is the excessive sedimentation that plagues the stream and also fills up the in-stream ponds vital to salmonids. We have been told that within Puget Sound the majority of streams are small and that they make a significant contribution to the total salmonid production, with Illahee Creek being one of them.
4. Do you have a fish count? Exactly how many salmonids are in the stream is difficult to determine. When the culvert under Illahee Road was being cleaned out several years ago, a net was placed upstream of the work, and several times during the day the fish that had accumulated in the net were transferred downstream past the work. Kitsap County Public Works personnel manning the nets noted 125 fish were transferred in one day. We have seen Coho and chum spawning in recent years, but we do not have an official count.
5. What are the aquifer issues you mentioned? The Kitsap Peninsula is hydrogeologically self-contained, meaning that all the water that falls in our area ends up in local aquifers, ours being the Manette Aquifer. In other words all the water we use, drink, and that flows in our streams comes from rainwater that is allowed to soak into the ground. The Timbers Edge project was projected to decrease the base flow to Illahee Creek by approximately 15%, which is why they are now looking at infiltration, but it was never mandated until the community appealed, and then only “to the maximum extent feasible,” without it ever being defined.
6. Can you restate this in layman’s terms? If you reduce the amount of rainwater that soaks into the ground around the creek, there will be a corresponding reduction in the amount of water that flows into Illahee Creek.
7. Is that why rain gardens are needed? Yes, in addition to reducing stormwater runoff, rain gardens increase the amount of water available to infiltrate into the shallow aquifers supplying water to Illahee Creek.
8. Why should the Port of Illahee be involved in projects away from the waterfront? The stormwater surges plaguing Illahee Creek are also adversely affecting the Illahee dock by depositing sediment under the floats that was last measured at 32 inches under the inner most float. Additionally the Port has been involved in salmon restoration projects both in Illahee Creek and at the dock and is concerned with the need to protect the critical aquifer recharge areas that supply water to Illahee Creek. The importance of getting control of the stormwater and the aquifer issues in the watershed is documented in the Parametrix “Illahee Creek Watershed Surface Water Management Plan” that was funded by the Department of Ecology and the Port of Illahee. The report can be accessed at:http://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/community_plan /subareas/Illahee/Surfacewater_Management_Plan.htm
9. Is this the report that states it will take $20 Million to fix the problems? Yes, the report was required because Kitsap County said a complete watershed analysis was needed before they would be able to do anything to fix the surge problems. The Port submitted a grant proposal for the study, first in 2005 and again in 2006. The report was completed in 2008 and issued in 2009. The report uses a comprehensive watershed approach to the problem and concludes, because of the large $20 million price tag, the project should be completed in phases.
10. A recent Kitsap Sun columnist says the Port exceeded its legal mandate. How do you answer that charge? The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) quoted in the article is RCW 53.04.010, which establishes Port districts and taken by itself appears to limit the Port to only waterfront involvement. The code however continues in following sections to further describe Port responsibilities, including the authority to protect watersheds and establish “Watershed Management Partnerships” [RCW 53.08.420], which is what the Port is proposing to do with Kitsap County.
11. What progress is being made regarding a partnership? The progress is understood to be ongoing and methodical because of the many players and landowners involved. The first actions were to contact the principal landowners and provide copies of the Parametrix report to them. Secondly, action needed to be taken by the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee and the Illahee Forest Preserve group as their Stewardship Plan also includes the primary watershed areas being discussed. The two Illahee Preserve groups integrated the findings of the Parametrix report with their Stewardship Plan and developed the map/plan entitled, “Illahee Preserve/Illahee Creek Restoration Project – Master Plan for Acquisitions and Easements.” That is now the approved plan being used with the petition and will likely be the basic document for establishing a Watershed Management Partnership with Kitsap County.
12. So this must be the map that is on the Petition. It appears to be a rather ambitious plan. Can the Port really be expected to accomplish all the identified “acquisitions and easements”? The answer of course is no. The plan will hopefully be supported by the Port, but it will take more than this small port to make it all happen. It will require Kitsap County to be involved along with the local Preserve groups and the surrounding area to support the Plan.
13. Why is the Port then involved with the Timbers Edge part of this Master Plan? The developer came to the Port of Illahee with an offer to sell the property, likely realizing the Illahee Community did not have the resources. He approached the Port with the offer, and because it fit in with the findings of the DOE/Port grant report, we think the Port should want to take a serious look at the offer.
14. And this purchase is why you think the Port would need to raise our taxes? The Port of Illahee has indicated its reluctance to raise taxes unless there is both a clear need and mandate for them to do so. They considered options involved with grant money to help minimize any tax burden to residents. They considered the possibility of purchasing this property now and selling it later as a development that will not endanger our aquifer or creek and that is in keeping with the Illahee culture. They want to help with the purchase but also want to keep the tax burden down to a minimum while still being able to correct the stormwater problem that is affecting the dock, shoreline and creek.
15. Why then did the petition being circulated ask for such a large increase? When we approached the Port of Illahee with the idea of a petition, they wanted to make sure they had the maximum amount of tax increase that might be required to purchase the property, should the community come up with the requested 500+ signatures.
16. When does the Port need the requested 500+ signatures? When this first came up they wanted them as soon as possible so they could review them before they made a decision as to whether to put a tax increase vote on the primary ballot. That didn’t happen so now the goal is to have the petition circulated in August and count the petitions on or about September 15, 2010. The 500+ signatures represent the average majorities (over half of the votes) that were cast in the last two elections by Illahee residents.
17. What are the biggest challenges for the petition? Residents have generally been supportive of recent Illahee Community Club positions in the recent past, but this is the first time they have been asked if they support a raise in taxes. While many have been enthusiastic about this effort and view a tax increase as necessary to protect the community, others are skeptical, and some are upset that an increase in taxes is even being proposed. The Community Club and the Port need to determine the will of Illahee residents and thus the reason for the petition and this Frequently Asked Question Sheet. The goal has always been to have a clear majority and the challenge is to get the petition and accurate information (this FAQ sheet) to as many voters as possible.
18. The Kitsap Sun reported that the information meetings held by the Port were not well attended and there evidently wasn’t much interest. There were a few residents on both sides of the issue, and the information and questions were good and there were good exchanges, but it was mostly the same residents at all three of the meetings. It is correct that the meetings were not well attended. The reluctance to attend meetings is something we already know about Illahee residents, but it is not true that there isn’t much interest based on the petitions received to date.
19. We understand some areas had petitions circulated and the petition was included in an email. What has been the response so far? The response to date is 71 “yes” and 3 “no”, which is encouraging. We passed out 150 petitions initially, in addition to the email, so we are hoping the trend continues as we have 850 more petitions to distribute.
20. What are you hoping for? We are hoping that a deal could be worked between the Port and a land trust whereby the Timbers Edge property could be purchased, and if necessary, 10 acres (the old Avery homestead) resold later for a responsible development of 30 homes rather than 110 homes. We would like this to happen quickly, but realize it could take a few years to finalize and port taxes could be raised. We hope residents will vote ‘yes’ on the petition to show their support. Please contact us if you need more information at our website: illaheecommunity.com.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND RESPONSE ON THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE!