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Deal signed for first purchase of Pope Resources land near Port Gamble

Forterra and Pope Resources have signed a purchase and sale agreement to protect 535 acres of forestland and 1.5 miles of shoreline along Port Gamble Bay, south of the former Pope & Talbot sawmill site.

Forterra had been negotiating with the landowner on behalf of the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project, a coalition of community groups who have worked to obtain grants and other funding to acquire and conserve as much as possible of 6,700 acres that Pope intends to sell. The land, which includes an extensive network of trails that have long been accessible to the public, is in several separate tracts in North Kitsap, mostly between Port Gamble and Kingston.

“This agreement is the first stroke in making an audacious vision a reality,” said Michelle Connor, Forterra executive vice president. “It is a great credit to the many elected leaders, tribes, agency staff, community stakeholders and the landowner who are acting to ensure a positive legacy for the future.”

Jon Rose, president of Pope Resources subsidiary Olympic Property Group, said the deal is “an important milestone in our six-year partnership with the community.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve great outcomes for the remaining forest lands.”

When the sale announced this week closes, Forterra will assign ownership of the forestland to Kitsap County and the tidelands to Washington Department of Natural Resources for long-term stewardship and management.

Funding for the purchase will be provided by the National Coastal Wetlands Program, Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and Washington State Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account.

The Kitsap Forest and Bay Project is supported by Kitsap County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Forterra, Great Peninsula Conservancy and many community groups. The parties must finalize fundraising and complete the purchase of any additional forest lands by March 2014.

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