Illahee Update 4/23/12 Woodpeckers, Compass Circle Wildlife Meadow, Trail Intersection Posts, Walkway Plans, Rain Garden Weeds, Illahee Film, Detention Pond

The Illahee Preserve is filled with the evidence of woodpeckers, and they are often spotted as can be seen by these pictures.  They are of a hairy woodpecker as evidenced by it’s medium size and long bill.  The red feathers on the back of its head indicates it is a male.  We thought the photo below which shows its feet was interesting.

Questions re Wood Chips and Compass Circle Wildlife Meadow . Most of the questions we answer at this time have to do with something like “Why put wood chips on the bike trails?” and  “What is going on with Compass Circle?”  We answered some emails a few weeks ago so we thought we would include those questions and responses below.

EMAIL  My husband and I live maybe a mile from the preserve and enjoy popping over for some mt. biking.  Yesterday we were upset to see the massive amount of woodchips dumped on the trails!  Wood chips may be nice for a leisurely stroll but for bikes it’s a near deal breaker.  Even when riding downhill the chips produce so much resistance that you have to actively and exhaustingly pedal even on a decline.  Thankfully our two favorite trails hadn’t been tainted by the chips yet (spotted doe and an unnamed windy hilly trail in the back near the golf course).

I could understand if the trails were super mucky but in general the trails are hard packed dirt w/ a nice coating of pine needles and other tree debris so I’m not sure why woodchips are even needed?

I read the pamphlets at the trail head about creating an interpretive trail etc, I would suggest also keeping bikers in mind.  There are no decent bike trials in the Silverdale/Bremerton area and having some place to ride without having to head south to Banner woods or north to the pope resource land near Pt.Gamble would be a huge benefit to the community.

By creating trails that are tailored specifically for walking you will attract the casual nature walker but I believe you’ll also attract homeless people and teenagers looking for a  safe place to get high and drink since there would be less risk of running into someone on the trail. (BTW while pedaling up hill yesterday I rounded the corner and encountered a young man and woman smoking from a bong walking down the trail, I believe if they felt there was a risk of more bike activity (since bikes are quick and silent) they wouldn’t have chosen the preserve).

Check out Banner Woods, it’s a GREAT resource that caters to not only bikes but trail runners, walkers, horses, etc.  And you don’t see woodchips anywhere in Banner.

Thanks for reading my rant, and if you decide to start creating trails with bikes in mine let me know as I would be willing to volunteer my time.

RESPONSE  Thanks for taking the time to find our email address and to let us know your concerns.  We know the concerns of bikers when we first put down a layer of chips. The good news is that in about a month it will get better, except possibly for the new trail that was just established around Compass Circle, which will take some time to get packed down as portions were soft even before the chips were added.  We are trying to make the trails and the trail system better for all the users and have found from experience that a periodic covering of the trails with chips helps to better define the trails and helps during wet weather with mud.  When we first got the Preserve properties there were lots of these issues and the chips have helped so you will hopefully bear with us on this.  Thanks for the suggestion to check out Banner Forest as I haven’t been there and wonder how they have handled the mud issues.  We should also let you know that the Illahee Preserve is an experiment in volunteers supporting and maintaining it so if you have suggestions on how we can do better, please let us know.
ANOTHER RESPONSE  I’m also a mountain biker, and I just wanted to add that I agree- the preserve could fill a big void for mountain bikers between Banner Forest and Green Mountain. Spotted doe and the trail by the golf course were designated ‘secondary’ trails in part with mountain bikers in mind, and as a result they are singletrack, twisty, and hilly, and they don’t get the wood chip treatment except where necessary. Exactly the kind of trail mountain bikers like. It would be great to have a few of these kinds of trails connected to make a trail running / mountain bike loop that wouldn’t clash as much with strollers or dogs (not that mountain bikers aren’t respectful, but strollers can be wide and hard to pass, and dogs like to chase bikes).
One of the problems, however, seems to be the lack of input and voulenteerism from the MTB community. Which is really too bad, because the kind of trails that mountain bikers like are also especially enjoyed by other user groups, such as trail runners and those who want a more intimate trail experience.  But it does take some expertise and a lot of work, and the people putting in the hours right now are mostly walkers.
QUESTION  We noticed in the compass circle area that its now closed for restoration.  My husband and I were both perplexed how cutting down the trees would help restore the environment?
RESPONSE  There has been a long standing concern for wildlife and early on a wildlife meadow area was proposed for this site.  What was happening was it was being encroached upon by blackberries and the perimeter alder trees were leaning over the area.  When it got to be less than a quarter acre, it was decided something needed to be done, and it was determined the meadow area needed to be somewhere around a full acre, which is why the area was cleared of blackberries last fall and why the perimeter alder trees are being removed.  We are trying to maintain a diverse environment for the limited wildlife we have in the active use area, which are primarily birds and includes many different species and a bunch of owls.

Trail Intersection Posts. We understand modifications have been made to the new trail posts that were installed by Leadership Kitsap after some of them were stolen.  We took a picture of one if you haven’t been in the Preserve recently.

Walkway Plans. We also took a photo of the area where a new walkway is being planned that will lead to a new kiosk.  This project is being accelerated so as to be ready for the May 5th celebration being planned by Leadership Kitsap.

Rain Garden Weeds. Lots of weeds growing in the rain garden plots at the Almira parking lot.  We are looking for help to weed the plots and keep them clean.  If you can help please respond with an email.  We are expecting help on Saturday from youth volunteers helping out with Central Kitsap’s Super Saturday, which will mean we should have some clean plots to start with.

Trillium. Another photo, this time of a trio of trillium, and a link for those who might want more information on this spring flowering plant found in the Preserve.  For some trivia the trillium is official wildflower of the state of Ohio.

Illahee Film. We understand a limited number of copies of the Illahee film will be available at the May 5th celebration at the Illahee Preserve, for those who are interested in purchasing a copy.

Detention Pond Report. It has been reported there are lots of frogs and tadpoles at the detention pond at the south end of the Almira parking lot, and a couple of mallard ducks at times.

Jim Aho