Illahee Update 2/20/12 Park Steward Threatened, Restoration Signs, Trail Marker Plan, Film Signs

Brush Picker Threatens Park Steward. When we reported the brush picking incident on Saturday, we were unaware that a threat had been made against one of the park stewards until we received the email below.  Evidently the steward was on the phone with 911 and didn’t hear the threats.  We changed the to report slightly to exclude names.

Thought we should document through an incident report, a situation which occurred at the Almira Entrance to the Illahee Preserve on February 18, 2012, at approximately 2:30PM.

We had come to the Almira Entrance to the Preserve to maintain the Mutt-Mitt station which they do on a regular basis.  As we unlocked the box to install new bags inside, we observed one of the park stewards returning to his vehicle from doing his volunteer work. At that point, walkers who frequent these trails with walking their dogs on a regular basis stopped us where we were talking and informed us that brush pickers were just up-trail about 200 yards.  This was the same family that informed our organization on an earlier brush picking incident in January.  The steward went up-trail to see what was taking place and came upon the illegal pickers.  When he proceeded to snap a picture of the pickers, they fled in different directions leaving a very large bundle on the ground.  He brought the large bundle back to the Almira Parking Lot and immediately called 911 and asked for help.  In the meantime, a black Silverado Chevrolet pickup, Florida license plate 545 NHD, entered the Almira Parking Lot.  This was the same vehicle which was present and involved in the last brush picking incident in January.  When the steward took a picture of the vehicle this time, the driver, a hispanic male wearing a black tee shirt and blue jeans,  got out of the vehicle and headed towards us.  He was worried that his picture was being taken and started screaming at the steward.  The steward was on the telephone to 911 and this man shouted that “he is going to get that man” and “he is the one I am after” and “he wants a fight”.  He also shouted, “I am not a criminal”.  We told him  “that we already had pictures and didn’t need anymore”. At that point, he ran back to his vehicle and took off out of the Almira Entrance.  It also appeared that cell phones are the means of communication with the illegal pickers in the preserve.  We then loaded the salal into the steward’s vehicle until a decision was made of what to do with it.  A message was left with the parks district to make contact when they return to work.
Brush Picker Truck Spotted. Also we received some photos taken about 6:30 pm on Saturday at the AM/PM station on 6th Street in Bremerton.  It appears they didn’t come close to finding all the brush that had been picked on Saturday.  See the photos above and below.  We have been told that the brush pickers normally wait until dark to bring their bundles out, which would correspond with the truck sighting in the evening.

Meadow Restoration Signs. The Compass Circle meadow restoration project is moving ahead as the signs went up this weekend.  We have already been questioned about what is going on and why the signs are up before the project is complete.  Those are good questions and this is what we found out.  There are at least two groups trying to coordinate the project.  The first is a boy scout troop helping with an Eagle Scout project which involves building a perimeter trail and installing the signs, which was completed on Saturday and Sunday.  The second group was ready to start blocking off the trails at 7:30 am Saturday morning, but with the high winds and rain it was cancelled.  That left the signs up but nothing blocked off.  But things are supposed to happen soon.

Saturday (2/25/12) Work Party? The trail closing part of the restoration project was looking at completing the effort on Saturday (2/25) with the help of the Navy or the Washington Youth Academy.  Since the scouts couldn’t be there on the 25th, they had to install the signs a week earlier when they were available.  The planners never know whether scheduled work parties will materialize as sometimes other priorities come up.  Currently the plans call for a work party on the 25th between early morning and a completion time of 11 am.  We hope that clears up any confusion for those using the trails this week.

New Trail Marker System Proposed. A new trail marking system is being proposed by Leadership Kitsap that will help trail users know where they are at so they don’t get lost.  The proposal will be presented to the park stewards and the non-profit support group at their monthly meeting, which is the 3rd Tuesday of the month, which is this Tuesday.  Interested parties and trail users are welcome to learn about the system and offer comments.

Meeting Time & Place. The meeting will be held at the Port of Illahee meeting room at 5560 Ocean View Blvd, on Tuesday beginning at 6:30 pm.

Film Signs. Signs have been placed around the Illahee community promoting the Illahee film and shellfish event on Saturday evening.  Since less than half of Illahee residents receive email updates, the signs have proven to be a good way to inform residents of events such as this one.

Jim Aho