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State boosts funding for Green Mountain, Tahuya forests

A newly awarded grant will help a natural resources investigator to patrol the horse riding and pedestrian hiking trails in Green Mountain State Forest and the motorized vehicle trails in Tahuya State Forest.

Only since last year has the state Department of Natural Resources had the grant money available to extend patrols to non-motorized areas, such as the majority of Green Mountain located south of Holly Road and stretching as far west as to engulf Tahuya Lake.

As part of the state’s $6 million package of grants for recreational projects, the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation is designating $107,402 to the education and enforcement project for Green Mountain in Kitsap and the larger Tahuya forest in Mason County, said Pene Speaks, DNR assistant division manager heading conservation and recreation programs.

DNR will match $49,290 for a complete two-year budget of $156,692.

Patrolling both forests, which are open year-round and together offer 180 miles of trails, campgrounds and trailheads, has been Eric Riske’s job for a few years now as the natural resources investigator.

“That position has been engaged in education and enforcement in the Tahuya and Green Mountain area for several years,” Speaks said.

With staff assistance and equipment from the DNR, the investigator patrols the forests, checks motor-vehicle riders’ equipment for spark arrestors as a fire precaution, conducts noise evaluations and can issue warnings and citations for illegal activities.

“Our investigator also rides the trails to encourage people to use their heads when they’re riding so they don’t lose their heads,” Speaks said.

The new state grant, covering 2006-07, will fund salaries, travel time, equipment for the investigator and his assistants — DNR staff and volunteers.

Reviewing the project’s merits based on need, fulfillment of need and community criteria, the DNR’s program for Green Mountain and Tahuya was ranked as the top one of 31 competing for the state ICOR grants in the education and enforcement category.

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