One of 3 Port Gamble Trails grants ranked for funding
Kitsap County applied for three grants to acquire land for Port Gamble Trails this year. Work began in March and final presentations were made in August. NKTA and volunteers worked hard to help. Thanks again to Kitsap Commissioners Gelder, Streissguth and Garrido, and to Pope Resources who gave us this opportunity.
Our community rallied to help, giving us 26 letters of support! For the final presentations, community members from NKTA, EMBA West Sound, Kitsap Audubon, Kitsap Forest and Bay and the County Parks Board, all traveled to Olympia to show support. But the prize goes our local high school mountain bike teams and coach; seven dedicated teen mountain cyclists, representing EMBA West Sound, met us at 6:30 a.m. to travel to Olympia! Wow, impressive!!
The grant process is highly competitive, one category had 72 projects competing for funding. Recreation and trails projects are especially tough to find grants for--there is simply more money to preserve sensitive habitat; shorelines, riparian corridors and salmon habitat. Projects have now been ranked, and unfortunately just one of our three grants was ranked high enough to expect funding. The Sound to Olympics Trail grant was ranked #1 in the state for both community support and threat (potential of losing the project, if unfunded), but ranked behind two huge projects (together requesting $6 million). We'll know the final outcome mid 2015, after the state budget is approved.
The grant that is ranked the most favorably (area in red on the map), is $500,000 to buy land for a 200 acre Mountain Bike Ride Park. A "Ride Park" is similar to ski runs, with bike runs designed for beginning, intermediate and advanced level riders. Our partners, West Sound Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance plan to invest lots of volunteer hours to turn that dream into reality. Providing the right location for the most active recreation, (further away from sensitive areas) is a goal that many of our partners support. There is also an extra challenge; the federal grant we hoped to provide the required 50% match ($500,000), is unlikely to be funded.
About 3/4 of the Port Gamble trails and land still have no identified funding source. With 534 acres of shoreline park, the County owns about 14% of the 3850 acres. With favorable ranking to buy half of a 200 acre Ride Park, and the expectation of $770K from DOE for land, the County still lacks funds for over 3/4 of the Port Gamble land. The next opportunity to apply for state grants is 2016.