Agency moves forward with Kitsap forest plan

The state Board of Natural Resources has unanimously approved a proposal that would create a new community-managed forest, south of Port Gamble. The board last week agreed to seek $3.4 million from the Legislature for the Department of Natural Resources to purchase 484 acres of timberland from Pope Resources to create the North Kitsap Community Forest.

“This acquisition fits the purpose of the state’s Community Forest Trust program, which is to maintain forest cover for habitat, open space, and for air and water quality,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the board, said in a news release.

Created in 2011, the Community Forest Trust urges communities to partner with the department to purchase and manage forests that support local economies and public recreation. The program targets working forestlands that are at high risk of conversion to other uses.

If the proposal is funded in the 2015-17 biennial budget, the department will work with stakeholders to create a forest management plan for the acreage. The county also would be asked to contribute about $500,000 to the purchase and management plan development.

The first state community forest was established in 2013. The Teanaway Community Forest is a 50,272-acre tract at the headwaters of the Yakima Basin watershed.