Proponents, OPG consider options for North Kitsap land buy
By Richard Walker
PORT GAMBLE — With fundraising lagging and a deadline six months away, Olympic Property Group President Jon Rose has proposed some ways to lower the price of 7,000 acres in North Kitsap that a coalition wants to buy for conservation and public open space.
First, OPG would keep 300 to 500 acres for development, in a complicated formula in which the coalition transfers to OPG the real estate value — or development potential — of the land to be conserved.
Second, the price would be further offset through timber harvests — either by the coalition or OPG. If OPG is involved, it would keep a professional land manager on the property, Rose said. The land manager would oversee the replanting of trees desired by the coalition — a native canopy of cedars, firs and hemlock.
A coalition led by Forterra is trying to raise money to buy Pope’s 7,000 acres in North Kitsap, much of which Pope now allows the public to use for trails which have become part of a regional trails network. Pope wants to sell the land so it can concentrate on development in Port Gamble and on interests elsewhere. Pope agreed last year to hold off on selling the property, giving the coalition until March 28, 2013 to raise the money.
The 7,000 acres are divided into five blocks: the Port Gamble Uplands Block, Hansville Block, The Divide Block, the Heritage Park Addition Block, and Port Gamble Shoreline Block.
Michelle Connor, executive vice president of Forterra, said her conservation group has used value transfers and timber harvest rights before. She said the appraisal, expected to be completed by year-end, will determine how much land the coalition can buy using those strategies and funds raised.
Liz Johnston, Forterra’s conservation transactions director, said the coalition has to date received $7 million from the Department of Ecology for acquisition of shoreline, and $400,000 from the U.S. Forest Service for the Heritage Park Addition.
Grants pending: A total of $3.25 million for shoreline acquisition, $1 million for the Divide Block, and $330,000 for the Heritage Park Addition. Four of those grants are state grants; three of them are “in the top queue” of grant requests, Johnston said.