"County, city seek agreement on historic forest"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:09 AM
"The 350-acre Illahee Trust Land is one step closer to becoming public land, and possibly adding a much needed park area in east Kitsap County.The county and city of Bremerton, which would purchase the land from the Department of Natural Resources and share responsibility for the park, currently are working on language for an interlocal agreement for a park area, said Rick Fackler, planning and open space coordinator for the county.Proposed plans call for part of the area, about 10-20 acres, to be developed as an active park area, with ball fields, picnic areas and playgrounds. Tentatively that area would be under the jurisdiction of Bremerton Parks head Chris Gears.At least part of (the acreage) has to be developed for active park use, said Gears. The rest will be kept for passive use ... we're trying to retain the natural character of Kitsap County.The passive use area, which would fall under Fackler's jurisdiction, would have trails and interpretive signs for residents to enjoy the natural area without disturbing it.I'm just crazy about this place. I think it's one of the best things we can do for our future, said Illahee resident Audrey Boyer, who has campaigned for years to bring the trust land into public use.Boyer, a 50-year resident of the area, said the second-growth trees are about five decades old. As far as I know, it has all been logged. There's a section of old growth in here somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it, she said.Boyer, and the Illahee Community Club of which she is president, is carrying on a fight begun by S.P. Pat Carey of the Sheridan Neighborhood Club more than 30 years ago to keep the trust land from being decimated by development.Carey wrote in an introduction to his 1979-81 report on the trust land that in October, 1979, The DNR revealed to the public several ways of crowding 1,200 housing units ... onto the (350) acres.But, Carey continued, the DNR had a change of mind in December of the same year, and informed then-County Commissioner Gene Lobe that the property would be available for purchase by the county if it was wanted for park and recreation use.Carey also included a history of the School Trust Lands in his work.The property was part of 640 acres originally granted to the state in 1889 by the federal government. Between 1929 and 1949, 280 acres of the land was sold.Carey also listed by date the different rights-of way for roads and easement granted for the North Perry Avenue District for a water reservoir, in 1958. According to his list, the last timber was harvested from three sections of the land in 1963.That was the original purpose of the School Trust Land, to provide revenues for K-12 school construction through the harvest and sale of timber. The money would go into the Common School Construction Fund.Not all the land is suitable for income production, the DNR noted in a Trust Land Transfer Program report. Based on a list approved by the Board of Natural Resources, the Legislature approves and funds parcels for transfer.Those parcels, such as the Illahee Trust Land, are then appraised for their timber and land values.That's where the process is now for the Illahee parcel.The DNR had it appraised, and we had it appraised. The appraisals were far apart. We jointly agreed on a third appraisal, Fackler said.When the price is settled on, the county can draw from the Conservation Futures Fund, and Impact Fees Fund for money to purchase the trust land, said Fackler.The city of Bremerton will ante up with 120 acres of land they don't need, but in which the DNR is interested, he said.We're moving along, Fackler said. We'd hoped to have it completed by now but the appraisal took longer than we expected. "