2021 Year In Review – The Eglon Forest
By Carol Price
Statement from the Suquamish Tribe: The Eglon area is within the Ancestral Territory of the Suquamish Tribe. Ethnographic data demonstrate the Suquamish camped at the mouths of creeks in the Eglon vicinity as they fished for salmon and hunted deer.
There has been much concern within the north Kitsap community about the possible clear cutting of Eglon/Rose Point trust lands (Eglon Forest). This 640-acre forest is made up of two public trust lands that are managed by the WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR). At the north end of the forest is a large wetland that borders Hoffman Road. South of the wetlands there is a stand of mature, 130+ year old trees, mostly Douglas Firs. Several footpaths meander under the tree canopy through this lovely forest. An old logging road runs from Parcells Road north to Hoffman Road, serving as a convenient passage from Kingston to Eglon for bike riders and walkers. Five or six streams flow from the west down to the shore of Puget sound within the trust lands.
If you can bear with me, the recent story of the Eglon/ Rose Point trust lands is rather complicated. In mid 2020, DNR let the Eglon neighborhood know that a clear cut was scheduled to occur within the trust lands in January 2022. Yet, a 2018 Kitsap Sun article had reported that this forest was being considered for transfer to Kitsap County Parks. DNR transfers public trust lands via their Trust Land Transfer Program to local jurisdiction for conservation and recreational use, and the Eglon trust land has been on this list for some time. The TLT program is funded through the state legislature, but this year, 2021, DNR chose not to include this program in their biennial budget. That put Eglon Forest at risk for harvest. KEC collaborated with Northwest Watershed Institute, Conservation NW, Senator Rolfes, and many others to promote funding of the TLT program, and the saving of Eglon and three other trust lands. Nancy Sefton interviewed us, and an article was published on 3/26/21 in her column in the North Kitsap Herald urging public support for the TLT program and Eglon Forest. Ultimately funding for TLT was not passed by the legislature, but Senator Rolfes and others, were able to pass a TLT Proviso that conserves the four trust lands through 2023. The proviso also mandates DNR to convene a work group to present legislation for a new, well supported Trust Land Transfer program by the end of December 2021. By the way, the DNR has over 200,000 acres of public land that would be transferable under TLT.
In another development, Kitsap County Commissioner Gelder has said that the county is considering putting an alternate emergency access road for Hansville through the the Eglon Forest from Parcells Road to Hoffman Road. Couldn’t north Kitsap have just one park that doesn’t have a road running through the middle?
As for some very positive news–just this month we were informed that DNR will not be considering the Eglon trust lands for harvest until at least 2030! Hopefully these two public trust lands will be transferred via TLT to local jurisdiction well before 2030.
So, how best to preserve the 640 acres of Eglon Forest? Typically, under TLT, the trust lands would be administered by Kitsap County Parks as a heritage park. Another possibility would be the Community Forest program run by Washington state…or perhaps Eglon Forest would qualify for the Old Growth Forest Network. Or, coming full circle, perhaps the Suquamish Tribe would be interested in taking over jurisdiction of Eglon Forest? At this time nothing is truly resolved.