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December 29, 2017

Deal reached to preserve land near Port Gamble

Forterra announced it closed on a deal to acquire more than 1,500 acres of the Port Gamble Forest from Pope Resources.

The sale price was $4 million.

Kitsap County will be the long-term owner.

The acquisition is the final puzzle piece of a decade-long project to conserve thousands of acres for recreation, restoration, cultural heritage and habitat. The latest purchase brings the total conservation area to 4,000 acres. Last year, Forterra helped Kitsap County secure 1,356 acres of the Port Gamble Forest from Pope Resources, a Poulsbo-based timber company.

This latest acquisition includes 65 miles of recreational trails and a future mountain biking area. The property will be added to the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, located about 7 miles northwest of the Kingston Ferry Terminal.

“The scale of this project surpasses major parks in cities around the world,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder in a statement. “With 4,000 acres conserved, this park provides a refuge that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

Part of the property has long been used for timber production, and will be restored to a more natural state over the next 25 years. One additional timber harvest is planned to make the property more affordable.

Forterra has also retained a one-time option to purchase more trees on the property in the future.

The land is significant to local tribes. For more than 1,400 years, the forest has served as a cultural, spiritual and subsistence resource to the Port Gamble S'Klallam and Suquamish tribes.

It's also home to lots of wildlife — including bears, coyotes, deer and birds such as the hairy woodpecker and the red-breasted sapsucker — and is one of the largest lowland forests in the Hood Canal watershed.

Funding for the purchase came from local donors and foundations, and matching grants from Kitsap County and Washington state.

Seattle-based Forterra is a nonprofit land conservation group that has been part of more than 400 separate land transactions over its 28-year history.