Kitsap County invites public comment on draft plan for North Kitsap Heritage Park

Folks that have volunteered to be park stewards have spent the last 18 months preparing a stewardship plan for natural resource protection and recreational use of Kitsap County’s North Kitsap Heritage Park (NKHP).

A draft of the plan is now open for a 60-day public review and comment period.

Those interested in accessing the documents for review can find them online at kitsapgov.com/parks/Pages/NorthKitsapHeritagePark.aspx.

Kitsap County Parks Department staff will work with the NKHP stewards to review comments received and make revisions, if necessary.

Kitsap County Commissioners are anticipated to adopt the stewardship plan this fall.

“We applaud the dedicated planning work of these volunteer stewards,” said County Commissioner Rob Gelder.

“Because this park attracts use from all parts of the county and beyond, we want to ensure the larger public can see the planning goals and weigh-in with comments, concerns and ideas,” Gelder said.

NKHP is located off Miller Bay Road and consists of nearly 800 acres of forest, wetlands and hiking trails.

A dedicated volunteer stewardship group, formed in 2009, largely maintains the park, in partnership with the Kitsap County Parks Department.

The NKHP Stewardship Plan is a management tool and template intended to provide direction for resource protection and conservation actions. Guiding recreational use and future development away from areas of environmental sensitivity.

The draft follows a county-adopted landscape classification planning process, identifying zones within the park for varying levels of resource protection, conservation actions, and development for recreational use, primarily trail corridors. The plan also outlines the history of the landscape, including its ancient glacial formation, use by Native Americans, historic logging operations, and the County Commissioners assertive land acquisition program.

The park setting is a mix of forest types.

Some are derived from the previous monoculture, which was important to commercial timber production. But more recently, the forest is becoming diversified through ecological-based forest thinning and replanting with mixed tree species. The stewardship plan identifies streams, wetlands, culverts and other bodies of water by assessing the quality and describing management objectives.

For more information, interested folks can contact Kitsap County Parks Planner, Steven Starlund, at (360) 337-5312, sstarlun@co.kitsap.wa.us or go to kitsapgov.com/parks/Pages/NorthKitsapHeritagePark.aspx.

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