The Kitsap County parks department brought some clarity to recent tree-cutting near North Kitsap Heritage Park, stating it was legally permitted by the county.
A recent uproar on social media initially brought attention to the situation, which prompted the parks department to dispel any misinformation about alleged illegal logging on park property. The tree cutting actually is part of the nearby Arborwood housing development.
A post to the North Kitsap Community Facebook page says that over 90 trees had been cut on park property along the east boundary bordering the Arborwood development. The post states the trees consisted of fir, cedar, alder and maples, 75 of which averaged 15 inches in diameter. Two 42-inch diameter Douglas Firs were 37 years old.
The post alleges the trees were cut as clearing was done for the development by Pulte Homes. It further states the cut area is on the park side of the boundary along the gravel road to the Kingston treatment plant.
“In a contact with Pulte Homes’ logging subcontractor, Rainier Wood Recyclers, a steward was told that the developer had not informed them even of the existence of the park, much less where the boundary is,” the post reads.
“The park stewards reported the violation to their Kitsap County Parks Department contact, who met on-site with the Pulte project manager…The bottom line is that the park’s trees are now gone and will take years (of) growing to replace.”
County parks director Alex Wisniewski, in an email to the North Kitsap Herald, said the trees cut down in Heritage Park border a utility road that crosses into the park and then out again, providing access to the public works treatment facility.
“The county provided an easement over this road to the Arborwood developers to allow them access to the treatment facility (via the utility road) so they could lay down new utilities for the housing development,” Wisniewski said. “In order to install new utility lines, the trees needed to be cut.”
However, he did say the cut trees were not intended to be removed from the park but, rather, left on-site for the parks department to use. “Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication, and the trees were removed from the park,” he said.
Wisniewski said developer Pulte Homes is returning the cut trees to the park. He also said the picture that was included with the Facebook post was not from the park, rather it was of adjacent land where the Arborwood development is occurring.