The Lost Continent/Timbers Edge Purchase Campaign
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Based on questions asked at meetings, as well as comments, phone calls, and emails, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding our efforts to expand The Lost Continent through the purchase of the Timbers Edge development. If you have questions not included here, or simply would like to discuss particular concerns further, please do not hesitate to contact us.
1. How do I donate? The Illahee Forest Preserve has established The Lost Continent/Timbers Edge fund at the Kitsap Community Foundation (“KCF”) to hold and manage the contributions to our fundraising campaign. KCF will issue a tax acknowledgement to each donor upon receiving a donation to The Lost Continent/Timbers Edge fund.
Donations can be made by check paid to the order of “Kitsap Community Foundation”, Memo: The Lost Continent/Timbers Edge fund, and mailed to: PO Box 3670, Silverdale, WA 98383.
Donations can also be made online by credit card at the KCF website (note: credit card fees will be applied): http://tinyurl.com/nksr6lp
2. Can I make a pledge and donate later? Yes, we have a number of people who wanted to pledge their support before the KCF donation site was set up. We are still accepting pledges and pledge forms are available on the website. Completed pledge forms can be mailed to: Illahee Forest Preserve, C/O Jonathan Buesch, Treasurer, 6253 East Boulevard, Bremerton, WA 98311
3. Can I donate stocks or land? Yes, the Kitsap Community Foundation can accept gifts of stocks and marketable assets such as real property. Please contact the Foundation or the Illahee Forest Preserve for more information.
4. What can I do to help? We can always use more help! The Illahee Forest Preserve is an example or model of how volunteers can manage and maintain a major nature park and preserve. We currently need help with our capital campaign to purchase the Lost Continent and Timbers Edge properties. We are also looking for help with the oversight and maintenance of the Preserve properties and encourage people to contact us at our three supporting websites:
TheLostContinent.org (for our Long Range acquisition goals, visions, and plans)
llaheeForestPreserve.org (for Illahee Preserve management and administrative support)
IllaheeCommunity.com (for Update reports on wildlife, the Preserve, and community)
5. Why do you want to purchase the Timbers Edge development? The short answer is the development properties were previously targeted for the expansion of the Illahee Preserve and represent key and crucial properties needed to protect habitat and wildlife corridors and provide connectivity for a desired regional trail system. The Illahee Preserve has only been in existence since 2001 when the Illahee School Trust Land was purchased from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In 2005 approximately 90 acres of adjacent properties were added to the Preserve, but not included were the targeted properties that had become part of an impending development called Timbers Edge.
6. Why do they want to sell the property and the development? That is a question that has perplexed many as they have a Hearing Examiner approved development worth at least the amount they are asking for it. The answer is that both the property owner and the developer have stated that they realize the importance of the property to the local community and to the Illahee Preserve, and they would rather it be saved than developed. (This is the same response we received years earlier when other nearby property was purchased from developers to be added to the Illahee Preserve.) And in this case, the property owner has also agreed to help with a substantial and generous donation toward the purchase.
7. Wouldn’t it be better to develop the property and have more tax revenue for the county? Not Necessarily. Even ignoring the tangible and intangible benefits of having an interconnected and well functioning natural habitat and wildlife preserve, this line of thinking has been proven wrong by numerous peer reviewed studies. Quoting from “The Impact Of Parks And Open Spaces On Property Values” by John L. Crompton, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, 2007:
“The conventional wisdom among many decision-makers and taxpayers is that development is the “highest and best use” of vacant land for increasing municipal revenues. The belief is that development increases the tax base and thereby lowers each individual’s property tax payments. Hence, larger property tax revenues are likely to accrue to communities if land was built-out with homes, rather than being used as parks or open space.
In most situations, this conventional wisdom is erroneous. When open space is transformed into homes, the taxes of existing residents invariably increase because while the development generates tax revenue, the cost of providing public services and infrastructure to that development is likely to exceed the tax revenue emanating from it. This conclusion emerges from a review of a cost of community studies reported by over 50 different research teams in 21 different states (Crompton 2004).”
8. Isn’t this the project that prompted the Port of Illahee to fund a stream study? Yes, there were actually a number of water and hydrology studies done on these properties as the area is a critical aquifer recharge area supplying groundwater to Illahee Creek and also to the North Perry Water District. The studies showed the importance of infiltrating rain water back into both the shallow and deep aquifers, and the importance it is to the base flows in Illahee Creek. The studies are referenced in the publication Illahee Creek Watershed Surface Water Management Plan, Parametrix, Bellevue, Washington, October 2008.
9. Don’t we have enough parks and opens space already? Surveys continue to show that Kitsap residents desire more parks, yet the county is not funding acquisitions (other than some recent large projects that became available in North Kitsap) and can barely maintain existing parks, relying on volunteers to manage parks like the Illahee Preserve. As the county becomes more and more developed, there are going to be fewer and fewer parks and accessible areas of open space. The Lost Continent area is a particularly unique forested area, wildlife preserve, and salmon bearing watershed, in the highest density part of the county, and can provide important habitat and recreational opportunities. Once developed, there is no going back, which is why it is so critical to protect this natural gem for future generations!
10. Why is the timeframe to purchase so short? The project has been through ownership changes that have delayed its getting started. While the new owner would like to sell it to be part of the Illahee Preserve, he has loan notes coming due this summer. Additionally he has a county deadline of March 2016 to begin the project and needs to know soon if we will make a purchase so he can get his final permits to begin construction, should we fail to purchase the property.
11. Why are you asking us to contribute when grants are available? We applied for the only grant we were aware of that fit the timeframe we were given, which is a Birkenfeld Trust grant that was applied for in March, with the results to be announced in June. Most grants require a much longer turnaround time and the application schedules did not fit our situation.
Additionally, grants rarely fund a major portion of a project and normally require a match, or a percentage of the project costs. The bottom line is if we want this we will need to help pay for it.
12. Why didn’t you ask for funding from local, state, or national government sources? Again, the timeframe was too short to get the information to elected officials, much less into any appropriation plans or bills. Nevertheless, elected officials have been contacted and are supportive of our efforts. Again, nearly all government money requires a corresponding match.
13. Do you really think it is possible to raise $767,000 and $1,700,000? Yes, but only because of the generous contribution of the property owner, coupled with the possibility of a substantial grant, which means we need only raise about half of the above amounts. By having two options (25 and 36 acres) it becomes more doable. We feel confident we can raise the funds for the 25 acres especially if we are successful with the Birkenfeld Trust grant. And once we are successful with this first phase, we think with two additional months to raise more funds, we can be successful with the purchase of the remaining acreage.
14. When will you know if you are going to be successful for the 25 acres? We will know as soon as the contributions reach the $767,000 threshold. With the $350,000 gift of the owner, the amount needed to be raised would be $417,000, which is doable. We have applied for a Birkenfeld Trust grant of $300,000 and will find out in June if we are successful, which would bring the amount to be raised to $117,000. We hope to have those funds raised before July.
15. You seem to be banking on the Birkenfeld Trust grant coming through. Why do you think your application will be accepted? We don’t know what other applications are being considered by the Birkenfeld Trust, but feel we are a good match for the grant when we look at the criteria they have posted. First of all, we satisfy the Kitsap County requirement. Second, there is a critical urgency to our request that will not allow us to wait for another grant cycle. We only have a few months to secure the property or it will be developed. Third, we have a great naming opportunity, a requirement of the grant, and have an architect working on a design for a donor recognition area. Fourth, the Illahee Preserve is a highly visible major nature preserve in one of the most densely populated areas of Kitsap County and provides unique community educational and recreational opportunities (a forested Central Park, a wildlife preserve, a nearly self-contained watershed, and a salmon stream). Fifth, the Illahee Preserve is a model of how community volunteers can manage and maintain a major heritage park (working collaboratively with local governments) into a premier nature attraction. And finally, we have a history of being successful in the endeavors we have undertaken as the Preserve as expanded from 352 acres in 2001 and to 545 acres in 2011 (which includes the 104 acre golf course).
16. Why didn’t you start fund raising earlier? We started limited fundraising efforts at the end of 2014 when the purchase proposal was first presented. It concentrated on Illahee Forest Preserve board members and those close to the project and raised roughly $50,000 in gifts and pledges. However, the “critical mass” did not come about until early March 2015 when a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed, which also allowed for the Birkenfeld grant application to be submitted in mid-March. This is when the capital campaign officially began with weekly planning and strategy meetings to determine how best to raise the necessary funding to purchase the properties.
17. What are your fundraising plans? Because of the short timeframe, we are already many months behind a normal fundraising schedule. Major donors are the key to a successful campaign and those individuals need to be contacted now and in parallel with other grassroots efforts. The two-prong parallel effort is underway with the emphasis on directly contacting all potential donors.
18. What amounts are you looking for from donors? Most potential donors have money available for causes they like and are supportive of. In our case the property owner is contributing $500,000 towards the purchase and stated the best use for this land is for it to be part of the Preserve rather than be developed. We are looking for financial gifts from other major donors ranging in the $100,000 to $250,000 range who feel the same way with a goal of raising $550,000. Our second tier donor range is from gifts under $100,000 and over $25,000 with a goal of raising $350,000. The remaining $300,000 needed would come from over 100 individuals with gifts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
19. What do you mean when you say donations may be effectively doubled? If we are successful with the Timbers Edge purchases, they are planned to be used as a 50% match for a state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant to purchase the remaining Lost Continent properties. Landowner agreements have already been obtained for a majority of these properties, meaning the landowners are interested in either selling or granting a conservation easement on their property to expand the Preserve. The goal is to complete all of the remaining Lost Continent properties acquisitions with a successful 2016 RCO grant application.
20. What is your timeline for completing these plans? Our goal is to complete the Timbers Edge purchase ASAP, and the Lost Continent acquisitions beginning in 2016. Our brief schedule is as follows:
April Website, Print Media, Fundraising Plans
May-June Fund Raising
July Prepare papers for August 5th closing for 25 acre TE purchase
July-August Fund Raising
September Prepare papers for October 4th closing for remaining TE purchase
Early 2016 Prepare RCO application
May 2016 Submit RCO application to purchase Lost Continent properties
21. Who can we contact for more information? The primary contacts are: Jim Aho, IFP President, (360) 479-1049, Rob Spearman, IFP Vice President, (360) 377-5547, Jon Buesch, IFP Treasurer, (360) 415-9885, or Merrill Evans, IFP Secretary (360) 377-3545.