Monday Meeting to Hear Brush Picking Proposal.  We received notice last week that brush picking was being proposed for the Illahee Preserve (as a funding source for the Parks Dept) and late last week we heard that Scott Raymond of Raymond Evergreen was going to be available to discuss the subject with the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee and other interested parties.  

Sensitive Subject.  We remember from responses this past year that this is a very sensitive subject to Illahee residents.  When we put out an update about brush picking in the Preserve we received over 30 responses almost immediately.  That was the biggest response in recent years.  If you are interested and/or concerned you are welcome to attend.
Meeting Time & Place.  The meeting is Monday (7/18/11) at 6:00 pm at the Parks Department Office area in the Training Room, which are both under the Eagles Nest at the Fairgrounds.
Stewardship Meeting on Tuesday.  Also, residents are welcome to attend the regular monthly Stewardship meeting on Tuesday (7/19/11) at 6:30 pm in the Port meeting room at 6650 Ocean View Blvd, where the brush picking proposal is on the agenda, along with other Preserve issues.  We received the following email and link from a concerned resident who heard about the proposal which should make for an interesting meeting on Tuesday:
Article by a local Tahuya Forest property owner’s observations about brush picking and its effects on his propety in the woods:
Port Meeting Last Wednesday.  We have been asked about what happened at the Port of Illahee meeting this past Wednesday, since we noted it in our last update.  Illahee Day will be August 20th and it will be a clean-up day.  Also, the Port is working on a number of items that we have been asked not to put in an update until they materialize.  There is one report that we can share which is the grant status report.
Grant Status Report.  One of the items we found most interesting at the Port meeting was the status report on the Port’s grant from the Department of Ecology.  Some very interesting things have been happening and others will be happening.  We have attached the report below.  We were impressed that the volunteer hours and in-kind contributions amounted to nearly $45,000, thereby decreasing the impact on the Port’s finances (which are our tax dollars).  As the report says – THANK YOU TO THE PORT AND ALL THE VOLUNTEERS!
Photo of Illahee Film Project.  We want to include at least one photo in each update and found this one of Shelly Solomon filming Bob Johnston at the Illahee dock early this summer.  Bob is not only an Illahee resident but is also an oceanographer on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Science Panel.
Jim Aho
 Port of Illahee Grant Report 7-13-11 1.  Grant Funding Ends.  The funding for the grant ended June 30, 2011.  While not all the products have been delivered, they are in process.  It was decided during the final phase of the grant, to concentrate on products that will not be put on a shelf, as would likely happen with written reports, and look to more visible communication avenues such as websites, films, and interpretive signs to get out the grant information. 2.   Water Quality Report.  We are finishing the water quality report, which documents the fecal coliform monitoring results that were obtained during 40 months of testing at 14 different locations.  3.  Websites.  The Port of Illahee website,, now has all the Centennial Clean Water Act Grant Quarterly Progress reports and the link to the Kitsap County website,, for the Parametrix Illahee Creek Watershed Surface Water Management Plan.  The Illahee Community website,, has been transferred to another hosting site and is in the process of having historical data transferred and will include the embedding of current updates in the home page.  All three websites (Port, County, & Community) are considered essential to distributing grant information and findings, as the watershed plan is just the starting point for current and future actions necessary to protect and restore the waters of Illahee Creek and Puget Sound. 4.  Interpretive Signs.  Twelve interpretive signs have been ordered from Alderwood Signs in Lynnwood, WA, and 12 base units have been ordered from JPL Habitability in Manette, WA.  Drafts of the signs were completed in the software Photoshop in order to make it easier for our volunteer graphics artist, Vic Keranen, to work with.  The text on the signs went out for multiple reviews and revisions with the various organizations involved.  The installation of the signs and base units will be accomplished by volunteers. 5.   Public Information and Education.  Shelly Solomon, the filmmaker hired to present the findings of the Parametrix report, has interviewed many experts and residents and is finishing up the film project one section at a time.  Shelly is known for her high quality films and her ability to tell a compelling story.  There is a short and long version of the film which includes some of the history of Illahee.  Volunteers have been crucial and supportive.  Also helping with the funding of portions of the film, in addition to the Port of Illahee and the Department of Ecology, are Kitsap County, the Illahee Community, and the Illahee Forest Preserve. 6.   Habitat Work Schedule (HWS).  Volunteer Joy Davison completed the entry of our prepared documents for the West Sound Watershed Council (WSWC) into the DFW Habitat Work Schedule (HWS) used by the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) & Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) databases, to document current and future Illahee restoration projects.  We have been requested to have photos of each of these projects, which is another outstanding task that needs to complete. 7.  Volunteers.  Nearly every task of the grant has used volunteers to the maximum, which has helped leveraged grant money to the maximum benefit of the Port of Illahee and the Illahee community. The documented in-kind support was $44,295! Thank you to the Port and  all the volunteers who have made this grant successful!

>Owl, Film, Sign, Clean-Up – 1-20-11

>Owl Report.  The following owl report came in a couple of weeks ago.  These owls are so small you can hold them in the palm of your hand and we wish we had such a photo.  The attached link below shows just how cute they are.  We also had a report of a Coopers Hawk on Classic Ave last week.

The northern saw-whet owl is back!  This little owl spent several months last year looking for a mate in the ravine behind Roosevelt Street.  His call can be mistaken for an alarm clock or the beeping of a truck backing up – it’s high pitched and very regular.  He is back in the preserve although he seems to have moved up the ravine to a place west of the vacated portion of Rest Place.  According to Vic Ulsh, “They are cute little rascals.  The big bully ‘barred owls’ who roam Illahee Forest can be predatory on the little saw-whet owls so I worry about them.”  Although their mating call can be annoying at 5:00 in your backyard, we are all hoping that he succeeds in finding a mate this year!

Seattle Film Showing.  We are late in posting this notice as this film showing is tomorrow evening in Seattle.  Note that Shelly Solomon is the filmmaker who is working on a film on Illahee.  She has done some amazing films, as you can see below, and we are fortunate to have her helping us get the message about what is happening in Illahee and to our watershed.

Public Environmental Film Event: sponsored by Feathered Friends and Sustainable Seattle
Friday Jan 21st, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Feathered Friends
119 Yale Ave. North (just down the street from REI)
Seattle, WA
Filmmaker Shelly Solomon

Throughout Ms. Solomon’s career as a biologist, she has been struck by the fact that so much of the positive work being done in the environmental field, has gone unnoticed. It seemed only natural to Shelly that a better-informed public would lead to a more engaged public. Ms. Solomon started Leaping Frog Films to “Get the Word Out” about these positive stories. Solomon recently received Sustainable Seattle’s 2010 “Leadership in Sustainability in the Natural World” award for her film work.

Find below 2 films that will be showing, plus 2 pages of film reviews

Buried in Sawdust for 50 Years” and the Unintended Consequences

This is a fascinating film about how a Washington estuary was filled with milling waste to a depth of 60’, where it remained for 50 years and how a local nonprofit secured over one million dollars to restore the estuary back to its original tidal elevation. Highlights of the film include an examination of the chemical contamination resulting from 50 years of accumulated wood waste, interviews with an original mill worker and his memories of the operation, discovery of the original estuary elevations with plants and tidal channels still in-tact, and finally, the returning of tidal waters to the estuary for the first time in 50 years. Project partially funded by Salmon Recovery Board. Created by Leaping Frog Films.

Almost Lost but not Forgotten – Pinto Abalone Recovery in Washington State
Puget Sound is full of many treasures, and the native abalone is among the greatest.  At a NOAA’s Mukilteo lab and a small abalone nursery in Port Gamble pinto abalone are being grown for re-introduction into the wild. In the summer of 2009, over 1,200 animals reared in this facility were outplanted into Puget Sound, representing the most substantial abalone recovery effort to date in Washington. Pinto abalone – the only abalone species found in Washington – may be at risk of becoming locally extinct.  The natural population has plummeted over the last several decades and there are too few abalone in the wild to successfully reproduce.  The goal of this multi-faceted abalone recovery program is to increase densities in the wild and build sustainable populations of this important species for the future.  This film showcases different aspects of recovering abalone populations in Washington State from spawning adult brood animals, to tending juveniles during months of grow-out, to careful reintroduction into the wild. It’s a big undertaking involving conservation genetics, state-of-the-art hatchery rearing techniques and lots of collaboration between scientists, NOAA, WDFW, tribes and community groups. Created by Leaping Frog Films.

Preserve Brush Picking Signs.  Soon there will signs posted to tell people more explicitly that brush picking in the Illahee Preserve is illegal.  The Park’s Department had the attached sign made up for Banner Forest and we asked for some for Illahee.  The signs are in English, Spanish and French in case so there should be no problems understanding for those who don’t speak English.  

Preserve Clean-Up.  There are a number of people who help keep the Illahee Preserve clean of trash, along with the Chalice Heart group the routinely picks up trash along Thompson Lane, which is especially important now that the gate was damaged and considered too expensive to fix.  We took a picture of Jay and Rob last Saturday as they were helping with the clean-up on Thompson Lane.  Also included is a picture of a TV set that was dumped along the road.  These are the disappointing events that are offset by those who volunteer to help clean up.  Thanks to all those who keep the Preserve and Thompson Lane picked up!

Illahee Community Clean-Up.  We know of at least 4 people who have been regulars at picking up the roadways and ditches in the Illahee community.  They are Rob, Carol and Carole, and Dennis.  You see them carrying bags for the garbage they pick up as they get they do their regular walks.  They have told us that the bending over to pick up things and then carrying the bags greatly increases their cardio-vascular workout over just walking.  We have heard there are also others who are regularly picking up trash and we would be happy to recognize them for their efforts.  Please let up know who they are.

Jim Aho

>Random Catch-Up -12/30/10


2 More Brush Picking Comments.  We have published most of the comments regarding the illegal picking of brush in the Illahee Preserve and unless something new comes in these will be the last.  The second suggestion may be the approach that is needed, unless we hear something different from the authorities.

The brush picking sounds like ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ !!  After all your hard work to make the preserve available for the enjoyment of the public, some people have to take advantage and start stealing the foliage !!
I feel very sad for you and others that have worked so hard to enrich the public experience.

Hey, just responding to the brush picking e-mail, we had a problem where I used to live about people coming to our community property and taking all kind’s of brush, plant’s, fern’s, tree’s, we put up all kind’s of sign’s in spanish and in english, it didn’t seem to matter, deep down inside these people know it’s illegal, as a community we felt violated, we resulted in taking walk’s caring camera’s and cell phone’s, we finally took enough picture’s to catch these people in the act, and had enough evidence to contact the police, shortly after, no more brush picker’s, I will try to make my way around the entrance’s in my everyday travel’s, to see if I see anything out of the ordinary, my girlfriend and her kid’s like walking the preserve, and would hate for that to end. Thank You

Salal Leaf Bundles.  If there was any question as to what the brush pickers were doing, we found two bundles of salal today at the Almira parking lot (see photo).

Car In Rain Garden.  The Almira parking lot was slippery this morning and some were having fun sliding around.  The guy in this photo said his brother wanted to drive his new car and it ended up in the rain garden.  We found him waiting for someone to pull him out.  The good news there wasn’t much damage to his car or the rain garden.

Paper Work Authorizing Levee.  Also attached is the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) for removal of alder trees that fell into the cleanout area (that we covered in our last Update) and permission to install a levee “to prevent flooding of adjacent property.”  While the county received emergency authorization from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to install a levee, they did not do so.  This is an interesting predicament for the State of Washington and Kitsap County in that they are supposed to let streams like Illahee Creek follow their natural processes in a channel migration zone and in a flood plain.  And concurrently, they supposedly have a mandate to protect private property.  So, what happens when you can’t do both?

Legal Question?  We don’t know whether letting a stream follow its natural course takes precedent, or if protection of private property takes precedent?   And, does the fact that the property owner was advised to not build in the stream’s migration zone and flood plain influence a decision?

Levee Thoughts?  We would like to know what your thoughts are on this predicament.

Seals Are Back.  For those who were concerned about the status of the seals in the area after the seal eating orcas came through here earlier this month, the seals are now back and can be seen on area floats.  We think this group escaped predation as the regulars all seem to be there.

Jim Aho

>Year End Gifts&More Brush Picking Response – 12/29/10

>Year End Gifts?  We have been asked to provide the addresses for the non-profits (501.c.3 organizations) supporting the Illahee Preserve and also the Illahee Community for those interested in supporting them with tax deductible year end gifts.   Letters need to be post marked not later than Friday (12/31/10) for them to be considered for 2010.  The addresses are:

Illahee Forest Preserve (501.c.3)
% Don Jahaske, Treasurer
P.O. Box 3047
Bremerton, WA  98310

Illahee Community Club (501.c.3)
P.O. Box 2563
Bremerton, WA  98310

More Brush Picking Responses.  More responses to the brush picking problem came in shortly after we sent out our Update.
I would like to walk thru the forest with my dog,but now that these people are being confronted-it is possible that I may encounter problems and am now fearful of harm that may occur. I think the police and or some other official needs to step up for public safety. Why clean up a forest area for the public if the public may be in danger using it?

I have a good friend who grew up here who has told me many times about brush picking in our general neighborhood as a boy.  I have seen postings about needs for money to meet your needs.  Might I suggest that an alternative that you folks learn from DNR how they go about leasing the right to pick.

Someone asked what they are doing with what you call “Brush Picking”
In my past career I worked in the floral industry for 30 years.  15 of those years were in the wholesale floral industry as a buyer of foliage and flowers to sell to florist.  It is most likely that these Hispanic people are picking leather leaf fern, huckleberry, and salal (Can’t remember how to spell this) or lemon leaf to sell to the floral wholesale houses in Belfair and Tacoma.  It is most likely that the vans dropping these people off are with one of these wholesale houses.  I would give the wholesale houses a call and let them know that you are having a problem with pickers picking illegally in the Illahee preserve park.  This will also give them heads up that some of the product they are purchasing is Illegal and to not buy the product from them.  The Hispanic people are not aware of the concept of private forest areas.  And yes, most of these Hispanic workers are straight out of Mexico or Honduras and speak little English.  I am from California and have worked with the Hispanic people, who come to America in hopes of a better life, for many years in the Watsonville and Salinas Valley.

Seems like the signs need to go high up on trees. Absolutely nasty to rip them down and then haul them away. Maybe the next step is trail names written into wet concrete poured into the paths
More reason to have more presence in the park by folks that would be concerned, such as the horse riders.
Unless the legal system pushes you probably will not have success with the Hispanic pickers. Know anyone in ICE?

I just wanted to let you know that I have come across a brush picker (one male) on two separate occasions in the forest. I walk my two golden retrievers almost every day along the outer rim trail (eastern most trail) and have been started by this man. The first time I saw him, my dogs alerted me to his presence and he hid behind a tree. Yesterday when I was walking, I saw him picking salal and he didn’t even try to hide. I know that brush picking is illegal in our forest without a permit, and as I did not inquire whether he had obtained the proper permitting, I was unsure as to what I should do. I must say, as I often walk my dogs alone in the forest, it is a bit unnerving to have such encounters. Any advice as to what I (we) should do if this happens again?

No Official Advice Yet.  In response to the previous email — we have not received any official advice yet from Parks or the Sheriff’s dept.  Also, it is illegal to brush pick in the Preserve and as such there are no brush picking permits.  We will let you know as soon as we receive any official information or advice on this issue.

Jim Aho

>Brush Picking Responses – 12/28/10

>Brush Picker Responses Received.  We have received a number of very thoughtful responses to the problem with brush pickers in the Illahee Preserve.  Our policy is not to use names unless specifically given permission, and to italicize information received from others.  We do not ordinarily edit, only report, so you can come to your own conclusions.  We do sometimes choose not to use emails for a variety of reasons, so if you send something in and it doesn’t get put out in an Update, please let us know since we have lost emails, or we can explain our reasons.

I asked my friend ………… what I might say to a brush picker in the park. Her suggestion was “Es ilegal en el parque”. It’s illegal in the park. I went online and typed “Picking brush is illegal in the park” and the translation was, “Picking cepillo es ilegal en el parque”. ……………………………… She is from Honduras and has friends who pick brush legally. She suggested posting signs and I think that would be a great start. I would even like smaller versions that people could carry with them to show the pickers. I’m sure the signs wouldn’t stay up but I’d be happy to help pay for them. I don’t want to be confrontational but I do want them to know we are serious. I’m also concerned that if several of us spend some time patrolling the area, they will come back at night.  I look forward to hearing what others suggest.
how about signs periodically stating in spanish “brushpicking prohibited” violaters will be procecucted by the Kitsap  County Sheriff and/or ICE
In Seattle they spray the urban plants near the convention place bus tunnel so they stink and keep the bums from bedding down in them. I walk by this every day while on my way to work. It may simply be a fertilizer they are using, but the smell is quite disagreeable. You might want to contact them to see what they spray on it.  Stinky shrubs probably won’t be very attractive to these people. What do they do with this stuff anyway? I don’t get it.
My two cents:  If this is a crime in progress, the the proper thing to do is call 911 and get police assistance.  Preferably one should stay with the pickers until police arrive and make note if they leave — what types of vehicles and license numbers.  Descriptions would also be helpful and cell-phone photos.  If the police choose to ignore this crime in progress, then we should have an issue there, but I believe that they would at least give a token response.
These pickers are just there for the money.  If their ‘loot’ is confiscated and fines (hopefully) imposed, then that should be enough to dissuade them from such activities — at least in the Preserve.  Even just having a policeman show up frequently is usually enough to make it easier to find another place to pick.
Another solution might involve a telephone tree of responders to come and prevent the removal of the cuttings.  Confrontation, however, should be done with police support.  Keep the profit out of it and it will stop.
I don’t have my Spanish dictionary handy, but maybe we could print a Spanish statement on the brochure which could be shown to any pickers.

I’m going to research among foresters how to take care of the brush
theives. I also recommend removing “standard Latin response,” from
your emails, since this usage, while not intentionally racist, may be
perceived by some as belittling this individual for being
Spanish-speaking, rather than for his envirnomental crimes. Lord
knows, that there is alot of xenophobia directed toward immigrants at
this time, and it wont help our cause to be associate with this
political movement. Perhaps warning signs about vandalism and brush
theft should be bilingual, since it appears that some of the offenders
speak Spanish and not English. Are there members of our group that are
Spanish bilingual who might help with the confronting of these

I would almost bet that the same folks that are stealing the brush are also stealing the signs for wood projects or fire wood.  These folks
are just barely getting by and live off the land as much as possible.  They just don’t understand how we care about our forests and beaches.
They rape and pillage just like they did in their country of origin. …….. They really can’t speak much Ingles.  There is no way to convince them that they
are doing wrong, because they just plain don’t give a hoot.  The cops won’t do anything to them, but if you cut their tires when they are in the
woods, they would work like mad to convict you if they could.  Other than intimidation, I can’t think of anything that would work to get rid of
them.  I have jacked up the non Ingles speaking guys on the beach for taking too many oysters.  They just look at you with a stupid look and
shrug their shoulders, duh.  What are you going to do to them, they have no money and nothing else to lose.  The warden looks the other way.
Not a New Problem.  Brush pickers are not a new problem in the Illahee Preserve.  We have even encountered a buyer checking out the old growth area of the Preserve (off of Sunset).  He tried to tell us he had a contract with DNR and the Park’s Department for brush picking.  While there may be some new brush pickers who are truly uniformed, this has not been our experience in the past.  We have had a bilingual member of the Stewardship Committee talk with Spanish speaking pickers and they have known that they are picking illegally.  They were using the language barrier and a convenient excuse.  We have had groups of unknown nationalities get dropped off early in the day and then later a van shows up and they all jump into it.  We have reportedly had someone at the end of Thompson Lane let brush pickers in when the gate was operational, now they just park along Thompson Lane.  We have also discovered stashes of brush, where they evidently wait until later in the evening to pick it up.  And there are more stories of following some to their residences.  Bottom line is the Preserve is 460 acres of forest and it is hard to keep all the illegal brush pickers out.  But on the positive side, we continue to make progress and with more  people reporting and caring about the Preserve, maybe we can make a significant dent in the problem this year.

Thank You For Responding So Quickly.  We had so many responses we decided to get these out before we loose track of them and will publish more responses if they come in.  We will also see how the Parks Department and the Sheriffs office want us to respond and will report that when we hear from them.

Jim Aho

>Preserve”The Good, Bad&Ugly”- 12/27/10

>The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.  The Illahee Preserve is confronted regularly with “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” (the title of a Clint Eastwood western from years ago) and this season is proving no different.

The ‘Good’ Items First.  Some really good items recently have been the installation of new trail signs by Justin McAlister for his Eagle Scout project, and the completion of a new trail map and brochure by the architectural firm of Rice, Fergus and Miller.  The first batches of the brochure were printed up and will be placed in the new information boxes at Almira and Thompson Lane that Justin installed as part of his trail sign project.  We also heard today that the Rotary Club of East Bremerton is scheduling work parties in January to take care of the wood chips that have been delivered, primarily in the parking lot at Thompson Lane.  We also heard that this past weekend another 9 trees were removed from the trails by the Rotary’s volunteer trail crew, making a total of 41 trees removed (by both Rotary and Stewardship crews) that came down across trials from December storms.  Without volunteers like these the Preserve would not have such a great area for hiking, biking  and wildlife.  Thanks to all those who help with the ‘good’ for the Preserve.

The ‘Bad.’  We also heard today that the brush pickers have shown up again.  Attached is the email message we received tonight (12/27/10) indicating this person’s frustrations.

This afternoon I received a voice mail call from a walker at Illahee Preserve.  They had witnessed several brush pickers near the Amphitheater.  He “gave them an ear full” and got back the standard Latin response of not knowing English.  He said they had already harvested an impressive collection of plant materials.  It seems to be a pattern for brush pickers to hit us hard during winter months.  As I recall, these plant pirates rigorously picked us for several months until March or so.  They tended to pick during the weekdays and during the middle of day.  At least that’s the pattern from my reports on last year’s shrubbery swipers.  Today’s call came in around 12:45PM today, Monday, December 27th.  The broken gate seems to be their target for access.  I had reports of vehicles parked along Thompson Lane which were the suspected collection points for the brush pickers. 
These guys abused us last year.  I would love to create a lasting impact upon our faithful brush picking visitors.  How can we stop this?  Does anyone have a plan on how we can change the behavior of these forest thieves?  I welcome any thoughts.

Let us know if you have any ideas that we can pass on to the Stewardship Committee or the Park’s Department. 

The ‘Ugly.’  We regularly deal with what some have called anarchists in the Preserve, i.e., those who are intent on destroying the good that has been done.  Within less than a week after the trail signs were installed, at least 7 of them were removed and are nowhere to be found.  Also, in the last few days one of the recently installed restoration signs was “ripped out of the ground” and evidently hauled away.

The New Brochure.  We have attached the pdf file (FRONT) (BACK) for the new brochure and thank all those who keep this information up-to-date, and then print it at no cost to the tax payers.  As we have stated before, the Illahee Preserve is nearly a completely volunteer effort to plan, support and maintain a major Kitsap County park and wildlife Preserve.  Again, THANK YOU volunteers and supporters, and in anyone is interested as they consider their tax situation, the Illahee Forest Preserve is a 501.c.3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the support of the Illahee Preserve, and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Jim Aho