Illahee 9/7/17 Photos, White Deer, Gas Line Installation, Illahee Creek Benthic Testing, Salmonids Sighted, Summer Base Flow, Port Public Hearing, Port Comprehensive Plan, Preserve Shelter Dedication

Photos.  Thanks to Ginny for the deer photo.

 
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White Deer.  Several months ago a white deer was seen near the mouth of Illahee Creek and we are curious if it is a piebald or an albino.  A piebald deer is one with a genetic anomaly affecting its color.  Pie means mixed and bald is for white spots.  There have been quite a number of piebald deer seen in the area over the years with small patches of white, but so far none mostly white so we are hoping someone will get a photo of this one.
 
Gas Line Installation.  Traffic was down to one lane on Wednesday at the bottom of Illahee hill while a gas line was being pushed through under Illahee Road.
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Illahee Creek Benthic Testing.  Also on Wednesday Kitsap County was conducting benthic testing in Illahee Creek with the help of a couple of Stream Stewards.  The samples will be sent in and the results will tell the stream’s health.
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Salmonids Sighted.  The good news is salmonids were sighted swimming between pools.  A small dead one was found that appears to be a coho.
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Summer Base Flow.  With no rain for most of the summer many wonder what happens to small streams.  Illahee Creek has a base flow rate that doesn’t seem to change, even in the driest of season.  Hydrologist Joel Massmann many years ago estimated the summer base flow to be around half a CFS (0.5 cubic feet per second) and that is what the digital equipment showed it to be on Wednesday.
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Port Public Hearing,  Whenever port districts modify or update their Comprehensive Plan they are required to hold a public meeting so residents can have an opportunity to know what the plans are and to be able to comment on them.  The public hearing on the Port of Illahee’s Comp Plan will be held on Monday, 9/11/17 at 5 pm at the Sylvan Way library.  The public is encouraged to attend and comment.
 
Port Comprehensive Plan Draft.  A draft of the Comprehensive Plan is posted on the Port’s website: http://www.portofillahee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Draft-Comprehensive-Plan-2018-REV-C.pdf
 
Preserve Picnic Dedication.  We received notice the East Bremerton Rotary will be dedicating the new picnic shelter they recently built at the Almira entrance to the Illahee Preserve on 9/28/17 at 5:30 pm.
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Jim Aho

Illahee 8/30/17 Work Party Report, Trails, Noxious Weeds, English Holly, Car in Ditch, Illahee Creek Restoration Project, Port Comprehensive Plan

Work Party Report.  Last Friday (8/25) Washington Youth Academy (WYA) cadets, 54 of them, descended on the Illahee Preserve to assist Rotary and Stewardship volunteers, 9 of them, with a variety of tasks.  

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Trails.  Trail work, consisting mainly of keeping 30 wheelbarrows loaded with chips moving a half mile to the Hall of Cedar’s trail.  
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Noxious Weeds.  Noxious weeds in the Preserve are unwelcome and every attempt is made to remove them. Scotch broom was removed from the Compass Circle meadow area, along with Himalayan blackberries.  Thistle is a particularly nasty weed and while a small patch was removed at the end of Thompson Lane, the powerline has a large infestration that will need to be controlled in 2018.  Tansy Ragwort is more of a pasture type of plant that was found on recently aquired property at the end of Thompson Lane.  If cattle or horses ingest it it causes irreversible liver damage.  Tansy was bagged and will be brought to a landfill.  Knotweed is another nasty weed under the powerline that needs to be controlled and will require more attention. 
 
English Holly.  English holly, is not a noxious weed but rather a weed or bush of concern, that grows amongst the forest canopy and is particularly troublesome in that cutting those too large to pull up results in new shoots coming from all around the stump, sometimes in a radius as far a 20 feet away, creating a bigger problem than a single plant.  The goal is to find them when they are small and can be pulled up and hung by their roots so they will die, as can be seen in this photo.
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Another use of English holly is for blockage of rogue trails and paths to illegal homeless camps, which is what is being done with these that were pulled along Almira to a recently removed camp site.  
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How Many Hours Worked?  Over 400 hours between the cadets and the Rotary and Stewardship supervisors.  No wonder the Preserve has the reputation for the best maintained trails, along with the fewest noxious weeds.
 
Car in Ditch.  We couldn’t see what the problem was until we got closer.  Don’t get too far off the shoulder on McWilliams road as the ditch is a drop off in certain areas.
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Illahee Creek Restoration Project.  The following is from a paper entitled “Illahee Creek Watershed Preservation & Restoration Project” summarizing the results of a 2008 Port of Illahee/Department of Ecology Centennial Clean Water grant.  These are some noble and necessary goals and need to be noted, and earlier Port Commissioners need to recognized for their proactive concerns many years ago when they applied for the grant.
The purposes (goals) of the Illahee Creek Watershed Preservation & Restoration Project are:  
(1) to acquire adjacent Illahee Preserve properties and Illahee Creek riparian corridor properties, including those that constitute prime salmonid spawning and rearing habitat; 
(2) to restore forested areas for recreation and wildlife; 
(3) to restore salmonid use to near historic levels; 
(4) to restore the natural ecological processes of the forest, riparian corridor, and the watershed; 
(5) to control the storm water surges and excessive sedimentation that plagues Illahee Creek and Puget Sound (through retention/detention and bio-retention facilities); 
(6) to advocate for raising the height of the Illahee Creek culvert to compensate for the raised flood plain in the lower reaches of the stream and to prevent the possible washout of the culvert and Illahee Road;  
(7) to eliminate fecal coliform sources that pollute Illahee Creek; 
(8) to ensure sufficient aquifer recharge of the base flows in Illahee Creek necessary for salmonid use and survival; 
(9) to inform and educate the local community and the public at large regarding the above issues and involve them in the restoration processes, and 
(10) to facilitate public use and enjoyment of the natural features and ecological processes of the Illahee Preserve and Illahee Creek Watershed. 
 
While Illahee Creek is only a small salmonid producer in the West Sound Watershed area, with only small runs of chum and Coho in a good year and intermittent use by steelhead and cutthroat, it is a major polluter of Puget Sound with excessive amounts of sedimentation being deposited into the Sound during storm events.  And although much of its stream corridor and watershed consists of prime habitat (65% undeveloped with most of that protected), a relatively small area of development on the outer perimeter of the watershed, constructed before storm water mitigation regulations went into effect, has resulted in over 40 years of excessive sediment pollution of Illahee Creek and Puget Sound.  Additionally, Illahee Creek is impacted by diminishing low base flows during times of low precipitation, along with the presence of fecal coliform pollution in the stream. 
 
Significant progress has been made over the last few years to begin to document the issues and accomplish both property acquisitions and some restoration, primarily through earlier grants from the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Coastal Protection Fund (CPF), and Department of Ecology (DOE)/Port of Illahee; along with the recent generosity of the owner of the Rolling Hills Golf Course (104 acres) and the Timbers Edge owner and developer (25.5 acres). The property acquisition and easement phase is now ~85% complete (with the remaining 15% consisting of ~30 acres of conservation easements and ~50 acres of acquisitions).
 
The Port of Illahee, the Illahee Forest Preserve Non-Profit Corporation, the East Bremerton Rotary, the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee, and Kitsap County have committed resources and are working collaboratively to accomplish the purposes and goals of the restoration project, with financial support, volunteer labor, inter-local agreements, etc.  Integral to the success of the remaining acquisitions and conservation easements will be the continuing quest for gifts and grant support to secure the properties. 
 
Port Comprehensive Plan.  The Port of Illahee has done a great job of leveraging their limited annual tax funding ($79,646) with grants, and will be presenting their next 6 year Comprehensive Plan on Sept 11th at 5 pm at the Sylvan Way library at a public meeting for residents to provide comments and input.
 
Jim Aho