Illahee Update 1/30/12 Illahee Preserve Brush Picking, Sheriff Called, Large Stash Found, Value?, Sheriff’s Dept Thanked

Brush Picking Report. During a meeting at the Preserve’s Almira parking lot where we were looking at a proposal for a new walkway to a yet to be designed kiosk, we were told by a lady walking her dog that there was brush picking going on just up the trail.

Brush Pickers Sighted. We didn’t walk far before we saw four young men off in the distance busily picking salal and putting it in bunches.  They were watching us, evidently to see if we were going to walk on by.  When one of us started calling on our cell phone (we called 911) and the other person started taking pictures, they started walking away.

Moved Closer. When we started moving closer to them they started running, with some of them dropping the bunches of salal as shown in the photo below, but others kept their bunches as they ran.  We followed them for a short distance, but they were much younger, and moved more quickly.

Drove To Thompson. One of us followed them up the trail, while the other person drove to Thompson Lane.  Two of the pickers went to their pickup, shown in the photo below, but then went back into the woods.

Sheriff Deputy Arrived. That was about the time a deputy sheriff arrived.  He checked out the pickup truck, which had a Florida license, and the VIN number to make sure it wasn’t stolen.  The deputy looked around finding lots of evidence of brush picking, but no brush pickers were seen.  The deputy took pictures, gave us a case number (K12-001062) and then left.  He said he would need to catch them in the act to be able to do anything.

Preserve Walkers Noted Lunches Were Left. When we got back to the Almira parking lot we were told that it appeared the brush pickers had dropped their lunches so we picked them up along with some rain gear.  While we were taking photos of them, we received another report.

Another Walker Found a Large Stash. We were told that there was a large stash of salal bunches along what she called the valley trail, and she led us to the spot.  She said earlier her dogs were letting her know there were people close by, evidently the brush pickers had ducked down in the brush.

Haul Out. It took us several trips but we were able to haul out about 40 large bunches of salal that had probably been cut earlier in the morning, see the photo of the pile in the parking lot.

Other Reports. We ended up talking with a number of walkers during the 3 hours we were there.  They told of groups there all weekend picking brush.  Most thought they must have some kind of permit as they were picking right next to the trails in some instances.

Illegal To Pick Salal in the Preserve. We reminded the walkers we talked with that it is illegal to pick salal in the Illahee Preserve, and that they should call 911 if they see it happening.

Value of the Salal? When people saw the size of the salal pile they asked what the value was.  We hope to find out more tomorrow when we someone look at it.  We will let you know.

Quick Response by Sheriff’s Dept. We want to especially thank the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department for their quick response as it appears these pickers are destroying the salal understory in the Preserve.

Illahee Meeting on Tuesday. This is a reminder of the important meeting Tuesday (1/31/12) evening at the Sylvan Way Library at 6 pm, where Urban Growth Areas and zoning will be discussed that are especially pertinent to Illahee.

Jim Aho