Photo. A box of entries that went to the Kitsap County Fair on Monday.
Preserve Work Party. On a hot Friday 53 Washington Youth Academy cadets and their supervisors descended upon the Illahee Preserve to haul and spread wood chips on trails, remove invasive plants, and provide trail maintenance help. East Bremerton Rotary members arrange for and coordinate these major work parties, which is why the Preserve receives so many compliments for their well groomed and maintained trails.
This Douglas squirrel was watching over the events, as were some ravens that we weren’t able to get photos of.
Water Quality Testing. On Tuesday (8/21/16) water quality monitoring continued at the Port of Illahee dock. One of the containers tests for metals and the other for chemicals. Why test in the summer? Testing now when there is no storm water provides a baseline to compare with tests conducted when stormwater runoff is at its peak.
Grant Rating. No report yet on how the Illahee Preserve ranked with other state projects. Parks personnel were all busy on Friday coordinating work parties like the Preserve one. It will probably be on Monday before we know more.
Another Public Hearing Notice. This Public Hearing Notice was issued by the County’s Department of Community Development for a Hearing scheduled for September 8th.
Illahee Greenbelt Community (IGC)? The notice references an Illahee Greenbelt Community. It was actually the Illahee Forest Preserve (IFP) non-profit group that was established to support the Preserve that appealed the project.
Old Case. The SEPA appeal case is almost 10 years old and the county decided to finally try and get the issue resolved. It must be some kind of record for having a hearing record being open that long. It made the front page of the Kitsap Sun several times, once in 2007 and again in 2008, and maybe again in 2016?
Kitsap Sun Coverage in 2007. The essence of the case was well described in the following Kitsap Sun article: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local/challenge-keeps-illahee-storage-facility-on-hold-ep-423056493-358966941.html
Briefly the issue seems to be whether the Preserve should be allowed a buffer for the wetlands and stream that exist on both properties, or if the wetlands on the applicant’s property can be filled and mitigated elsewhere, which would leave the Preserve without a buffer for the wetlands and the stream on Preserve property. We took a photo of slug as we walked among the skunk cabbage on Thursday to look at wetlands.
Many Regulatory Agencies Involved. What makes this case interesting in addition to the basic issue of buffers, is the number of regulatory agencies involved. They include the Department of Ecology (WDOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), and the Suquamish Tribe.
KC Approved Project. The project was approved by Kitsap County in April of 2007 and was appealed by the Illahee Forest Preserve (IFP) in May 2007. A review of the file in 2016 found it essentially the same as in 2007. As the project lingered over the years, the IFP investigated finding grant money to purchase the property and had even proposed a dog park (with environmental buffers) as they thought funds could be raised for a needed dog park in the East Bremerton area, but nothing materialized.
Hearing Costs. The IFP has ended up paying out considerable funds to fight the battle at the first hearing, which was followed by wetland expert reports, with lawyer fees in 2014 for meetings with DCD, and now for a fourth expenditure of funds for this next hearing. The costs are significant, in the many thousands, and the IFP noted they could use help as they try to protect the Preserve interests.
Next Steps. Kitsap County is supposed to issue a Staff Report prior to the hearing explaining their position, which in other counties is normally completed two weeks before a hearing (when notice is given to the public). Our past experience with DCD is the Staff Report is issued as late as the day of the hearing. We hope with a new DCD director with a legal background things will or have changed.
Update Coverage. We have asked whether people are interested in our covering these issues, and the consensus has been we should as the Preserve is such a natural treasure for the community and the region.