GPC partnership seeks to preserve habitat on Miller Bay

The preserve is another piece of territory to connect conserved lands in the Grovers Creek Watershed

<em>The Great Peninsula Conservancy has recently partnered with a local nonprofit to protect 13 acres of forest and shoreline along Miller Bay. </em>Photo courtesy Great Peninsula Conservancy

The Great Peninsula Conservancy has recently partnered with a local nonprofit to protect 13 acres of forest and shoreline along Miller Bay. Photo courtesy Great Peninsula Conservancy

The Great Peninsula Conservancy recently partnered with Friends of Miller Bay, a nonprofit organization, in efforts to save 13 acres of forest and shoreline habitat on Miller Bay in Kitsap County.

The preserve is another piece of territory to connect conserved lands in the Grovers Creek Watershed. GPC, the land trust working in Kitsap, north Mason, and west Pierce counties, will manage the 13-acre Miller Bay Preserve. Friends of Miller Bay is partnering with GPC by asking local residents to help care for the land and raise $150,000 to close a funding gap needed to purchase the property.

The conservancy has also received $150,000 from the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program and has contributed an additional $100,000 for the acquisition.

“Great Peninsula Conservancy is excited to partner with Friends of Miller Bay and local residents to help protect this ecologically-valuable preserve from the threat of development,” GPC Executive Director Nathan Daniel said in a press release.

“The shoreline and forest are in good condition and, left untouched, will continue to provide ecosystem services to the endangered salmon and trout populations.”

Daniel insisted that partnering with other groups and organizations helps get things done more efficiently.

“It really is a poster child exemplifying how GPC works with a variety of partners from the tribes, local governments, and both for profit and nonprofit groups to get things done,” he said. “We truly believe we can get more done working together.”

The Miller Bay Preserve sits alongside a GPC-owned nature preserve and a 40-acre forest property owned by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. The 13-acre Miller Bay Preserve will connect these properties, adding up to 56 acres of forest and over 1,500 feet of shoreline.

The property was harvested for timber in the 19th and early 20th centuries but was never developed, Daniel said. That means today, there are quite a few western red cedars, western hemlocks, and black cottonwoods that are over 100 years old and measuring more than six or seven feet in diameter.

“One of GPC’s goals is to better document exactly what is living on each of our properties so we have a baseline for future management,” Daniel said. “Because this is labor intensive, we are looking to put community members to work through organized community science projects.”

Just a half-mile upstream lies GPC’s Durham Preserve, which is adjacent to the Suquamish Tribe’s hatchery. According to the conservancy, the conserved lands will provide a “wildlife corridor” for deer, river otter, black bears, as well as critical habitat for many species of salmon and trout.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to add to Miller Bay’s protected greenspaces, shoreline, and waterways that are so important to all of us that live here,” said Paul Dorn, president of the Friends of Miller Bay.

“Whether driving along Miller Bay Road or paddling in the bay, these natural landscapes are beautiful, diverse and vanishing,” Dorn said. ”Friends of Miller Bay is looking forward to working with Great Peninsula Conservancy and community members to protect the Miller Bay Preserve.”

All gifts made to the Miller Bay Campaign this summer will be matched dollar for dollar due to some Friends of Miller Bay members who pledged $75,000.

“Over the coming years as we grow our membership, we hope to see this property open up for public access and potentially tie in with some of the surrounding GPC properties to make a significant trail system,” Daniel said. “Of course, that’s a lot of work, and right now we are focused on raising the last $75,000 needed to buy the property and protect the preserve.”

Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tshuey@soundpublishing.com

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