Dec 06 2006
Tree farm seeks input on its future

By Erin Beil
Craig Ueland is welcoming any suggestions from the public about the future development of the 1,700 acres of forest land he purchased from Port Blakely Tree Farms in 2004.
The meeting is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Parametrix office, 4660 Kitsap Way, in Bremerton.
Located just west of Kitsap Lake, Ueland Tree Farm is bordered by Bremerton's watershed, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The Mountaineer's lands. Ueland Tree Farm also occupies 20 percent of the Chico Creek watershed.
"It is a physically attractive piece of property," Ueland said. "We've done very little with it since we bought it."
Although the tree farm is currently being used to provide raw materials such as lumber, gravel, hard rock and Christmas trees, area residents were nervous that Ueland would try and put in residential developments.
"Our tentative plan is to not develop any residential areas," Ueland said. "We haven't decided exactly what we are going to do yet."
The land is currently under heavy use by the public for various recreational activities such as walking, mountain biking and hunting.
"A lot of people use the land around here for hunting bear," Ueland added.
In order to develop a long-term socially and environmentally responsible management strategy for the land, Ueland said he is analyzing the ecological role the tree farm plays in protecting the functions of the Chico Creek watershed. Chico Creek is one of Kitsap County's largest salmon runs each year.
Ueland said he will analyze the results from these reports, and will utilize them to manage the property while recognizing the importance of its environmental features. This will include allowing the public access to the property and communities access to supply of the raw materials.
Ueland said that he wants to try building in a trail head and floating trail easement to encourage recreational access to Green Mountain State Forest. Another preliminary idea includes placing 150 acres in conservation easements, protecting steep slopes and riparian areas along both Chico and Dickerson Creeks.
With mineral deposits and an existing rock quarry, Ueland said he would like to extract gravel, without impacting the overall ecology of the site, from various 30-acre lots off Leber Lane. He added that management activities would last from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. This would allow the public to access the forest roads on nights and weekends while maintaining the majority of the property as a working forest.

Copyright 2007 Central Kitsap Reporter