State Investing in the Key Peninsula


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

The Washington State Biennial Budget for 2019-21 includes $3.9 million for environmental/recreational projects on the Key Peninsula in addition to $1 million allocated for The Mustard Seed Project’s assisted living housing for seniors.

Both Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) and Rep. Michelle Caldier (R-Port Orchard) expressed their concern during the recent legislative sessions that KP residents had historically not received a fair share of state funds. Other areas with higher population benefitted because there was supporting statistical data and better organized lobbying efforts. Both were pleased that there was legislative support for conservation efforts to protect the unique resources of the Key Peninsula, according to their offices.

The largest investment, $2.3 million, is from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for design and construction of gravity and pumped intakes at the Minter Creek Hatchery. WDFW Reform and Operations Manager Region 6 James Jenkins said the investment will bring the hatchery into compliance with current federal and state criteria for salmon protection.

An additional $90,000 was allocated to fish barrier removal on Minter Creek.

Sarah Myers, legislative assistant to Randall, provided information to the KP News about grant designation. Projects under the Washington Wildlife Recreation Grants focus on land protection and outdoor recreation projects, park acquisition and development, habitat conservation and restoration, farmland and forest preservation, and construction of outdoor recreation facilities including parks, trails, water access and campgrounds.

These grants include $150,000 for Kaukiki farmland preservation in Longbranch and two parks projects: $498,000 for a new splash pad at Gateway Park and $205,000 for land acquisition at Taylor Bay.

Key Pen Parks Director Scott Gallacher said the Gateway project was ranked 10th out of over 90 applications submitted statewide, adding that the KP Parks Foundation was in the process of raising an additional $50,000 in matching funds. Construction on the splash pad will begin in the fall and be ready for use in May or June 2020.

Gallacher said Taylor Bay Park was purchased in 2018 with support from Pierce County Conservation Futures. The funds in the 2019 budget by the state Recreation and Conservation Office will go toward providing water access.

Mark Michel, Key Pen Parks board president, said, “Scott saw the availability of grants and has pursued them. He has brought in an incredible amount of money to benefit the parks system and residents of the Key.”

Two youth camps on the Key—Sound View Camp and YMCA Camp Colman—will also benefit from investment in shoreline preservation.

The $385,000 for Sound View Camp Conservation was initiated by the Nisqually Land Trust. Joe Kane, the trust executive director, said, “The camp is really an incredibly complex habitat. The shoreline has seven distinct habitats.”

“We are in the process of raising an additional $400,000 in matching grants to complete the process of establishing a conservation easement that will protect the entire Sound View Camp property,” Kane said.

While “the shoreline is in pretty good shape,” Kane also said this project includes some shoreline restoration and will initiate preventative work on the upper part of the grounds, allowing the camp to continue to function without negative impact on the shoreline.

According to Bria Cartwright, executive director at YMCA Camp Colman, the $250,000 in state funding the camp receives will go toward building a new marine science center and recreation space at Camp Colman. “The center will be a hub for environmental learning and sustainability programs for the 8,600 young people that visit camp every year. With both science and recreation programming in the center, campers will be able to work in teams to explore Camp Colman’s rich marine habitats through hands-on learning and discovery.”

The total project is expected to cost approximately $1,000,000. The permitting phase will begin later this year.