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Tree farm’s gift expands protected land

Ueland Tree Farm donated 100 acres from its 1,716-acre property to the Mountaineers Foundation.

As a result, Ueland Tree Farm will eliminate one of the two proposed gravel mines that are under review for a development permit by Kitsap County.

Craig Ueland, owner of Ueland Tree Farm, said the site was too close to the salmon-bearing streams.

“If you care about the creek, then you don’t want to see development there,” Ueland said.

The 100 acres contain critical watershed along Chico and Lost creeks. Foundation President James Gordon said the area is in good condition, but that members and volunteers of the Seattle-based environmental foundation would work to remove non-native species and barriers that hurt the health of the creeks.

“We have been really impressed with Ueland’s commitment to doing the right thing ecologically,” Gordon said. “This conservation easement is another example of how they are utilizing the property and retaining its natural resources.”

Ueland said he first began talking with the Mountaineers Club before purchasing the 1,700-acre property in 2004.

With this new deal, the foundation is now in charge of the area’s development and mineral rights, Gordon said. The foundation is also discussing buying 68 acres from this site, though they first need to raise funds for the project.

The 100-acre site borders the Mountaineers’ 360-acre Rhododendron Preserve, which contains some of the last remaining lowland old-growth forest in the Puget Sound Basin. The outdoor Kitsap Forest Theater and historic Kitsap Cabin lie in the property.

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