Some stand taller than others

Jim Trainer recently found the largest Redwood in Washington state in Bremerton’s back yard. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Jim Trainer recently found the largest Redwood in Washington state in Bremerton’s back yard.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Yep, it’s a big one.

Really big.

Actually, it’s tied for the largest in Washington.

If you drive southbound on state highway 304 and take a right onto Old Belfair Valley Road, and drive for about a quarter mile, you can see a 100-foot-tall Redwood tree behind the building of the forestry division of the city of Bremerton.

Its limbs stretch out almost 50 feet, its crown reaches up 100 feet high, and its trunk is 20 feet, 6 inches around.

The first person that took notice in the 100-year-old tree was Puget Sound Energy’s Community Forester Jim Trainer, a 25-year Kitsap resident.

He helped found the local tree-advocacy, Bremerton-based group Kitsap Trees with Bremerton City Council members Mike Shepherd and Daren Nygren, as well as arbor enthusiast Don Larsen.

“It was the biggest,” he said. “Right there with the one in Olympia.”

According to Trainer, an Illahee resident, a Redwood in Olympia nearly mirrors the one found in Bremerton in size and shape.

Last week, Trainer toured the big fellow that lies at the edge of the woods of Gorst Creek. “Me and Irwin are always looking (for the biggest trees),” Trainer said, referring to his sidekick and Illahee neighbor Irwin Krigsmin.

Trainer described the first time he saw the tree.

“I got a warm fuzzy feeling,” he jokes. Krigsmin said Trainer is so enamored by trees that some times he will bring over little saplings just to show.

“So much of his conversation revolves around that,” he said.

“Trees to me are treemendous,” Trainer joked.

When Trainer finds a big one, he does the unofficial measurement of the tree, and then turns it over to the University of Washington’s Champion Tree Program Coordinator Bob Van Pelt to make the measurement official.

After noticing the Redwood, Trainer notified Bremerton officials, who cleared away some brush from the tree so it could be more visible.

The tree lies a couple hundred feet from the Gorst Creek Stream Restoration project, where the city recently converted a 70-year-old concrete channel into a natural stream for salmon restoration. Now, the stream is bordered by small trees and wetland plants.

The project was completed through volunteer hours, and saved the city of Bremerton over $100,000, Trainer said.

The tree also lies on the Bremerton water utility area, where the Union River runs. It is the supply source for water for Bremerton residents.

The area has been so cleanly managed that it currently has no filtration device.

Currently the city water flows from the river into pipes which connect to people’s houses, but if the Department of Health mandated it, adding a filtration system would cost $15 million, with $1 million annual maintenance.

The source of the money would be higher water bills.

Monthly water bills would double if the new filter was installed, according to Water Resources specialist Kathleen Cahill.

Currently, Bremerton’s average monthly water rate is one of the lowest in the state.

Trainer said preserving the trees and wildlife of a region is important for esthetic reasons, but also because trees can teach people about history.

Additionally, he believes that as the mayor and city officials move to revitalize to city, they should take a pro-tree stance, planting as many as possible in parks and on sidewalks.

“You look at an aerial photo of the city and it is tree-less. What we are trying to do is establish a canopy in the city of Bremerton.”

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