Category: Log Articles (Page 1 of 8)

Articles also found in the Hansville Log

January 2022

100 More Acres for Preservation and Play

                The Hansville Greenway is about to grow, thanks to a generous bequest, reserved funds, and a flood of donations.

                The idea was hatched in the summer of 2020 by Hansville neighbors Darcy Herrett, Ryan Ross, and Jane Jacobs who reached out to the Greenway about the possibility of purchasing the land south of the Ridge at Buck Lake.  At the time, the Greenway only had $30,000 in reserves and did not see a path forward, however, in December 2020, the Greenway received a bequest from the estate of Joan Martin increasing funds to over $100,000.  During a December 2020 Greenway Meeting, Ryan Ross and Jane Jacobs made another request for the Greenway to investigate purchasing these lands.  Ken Shawcroft, one of the founders of the Greenway, and Michael Szerlog, the president of the Hansville Greenway Association, contacted Nate Daniel and Erik Steffens with the Great Peninsula Conservancy to set up a meeting to discuss this possible project.  A virtual Zoom call on December 29, 2020, led to the start of a partnership between GPC, Hansville Greenway, and community members to set forward the Hansville Greenway West property acquisition project.

                “We originally looked at 147 acres, but 47 were sold off,” Michael says.

                Securing the remaining 100 acres for preservation and recreation use became a priority.

                “It eliminates pressure to develop. There’s less traffic and more open spaces,” Michael says.

                The acreage is behind Driftwood Key and includes a broad swath of land between The Ridge at Buck Lake and the current Greenway. The Greenway needed $1.8 million in pledges by the middle of November to show that buying the property is actually viable.  Thanks to the team above, including neighbor Bryann Bingham and Katherine Tacke with GPC, they met the deadline and started focusing on the $2.15 million total they need to purchase the land by mid-January. They’re still accepting donations of any size.

                The plan is to restore the area to its natural state. It was logged over the years and replanted with Douglas fir, a cash crop.

                “We’ll remove all the non-native species,” Michael says. “It’s an opportunity to add diversity.”

                Any extra funds raised will be used as seed money for grants for planting and establishing trails.

                “There will be lots of opportunities to volunteer, get involved in trail maintenance,” he says. “There’s a lot to do down the road.”

                But first they must cross the start line. To help with donations, visit greatpeninsula.org. Great Peninsula Conservancy is the financial partner of the Hansville Greenway.

                In breaking news—Sid Knutson’s sons have told us that his memorial service is postponed indefinitely due to the latest Covid breakout. They will let us know when they plan it.

Cynthia Taggart

December 2021

Hansville Legend Leaves Behind a Legacy of Conservation and Preservation

                Retirement for Sid Knutson was an opportunity to pursue a dream, and all of Kitsap County benefitted.

                “If it weren’t for Sid Knutson, the (Hansville) Greenway wouldn’t exist today,” says Ken Shawcroft, a retired engineer who worked hand in hand with Knutson on the trail system. “He had the vision and the ability to lead. It would not have happened without him.”

                Sid Knutson died Nov. 2 at age 96, but the trail system named for him will live on for a long time. He was that rare person who took an idea from inspiration to completion and generated only gratitude in his wake.

                After a career in the Corps of Engineers, Sid retired in Hansville and immediately recognized the priceless natural areas on Kitsap County’s northwestern tip. He started by buying 10 acres that eventually became a land trust, but his vision for the area quickly expanded. He visualized a trail system on protected land from Hood Canal to Puget Sound and worked for nearly 20 years to turn that vision into reality.

                Sid worked with county and state officials, professionals of every sort and a crowd of eager volunteers, producing the necessary information and details for every step.

                “He was really a good collaborator,” Ken says, “He figured out how to make it happen and was never pushy. He knew how to work with people.”

                The result was about five miles of trails that wanders through forests of red alders, cedars and pines, past two protected beaver ponds, creeks and bird gathering sites and ends in the surf at Norwegian Point—the Sid Knutson Puget Sound to Hood Canal Trail. What a legacy.

The gazebo donated by Sid and Jeanne Knutson

The family has reserved the GHCC for a memorial service on Saturday, Jan 22 at 1:00pm.

By Cynthia Taggart

November 2021

A Friend To Greenway Wildlife

                The deer and the dragonflies that dance through the Hansville Greenway’s Otter Meadow have Dennis Kommer to thank for their good health and happiness.

                Dennis, who owns Dennis Kommer Excavating LLC, donates his time, energy and equipment year after year to mow and preserve the Greenway’s two meadows that provide food for wildlife.

                “There’s very little animal life in the forest,” says Howie O’Brien, who’s in charge of projects for the Greenway Association, “The meadows allow grazing for deer. Small rodents nest there. Owls love to hunt in the meadows.”

                Dennis spent an entire day in October mowing Otter Meadow, near the start of the trails by the Community Center, and Bear Meadow at the Greenway’s northwestern end. Decades ago, a farmer razed the forest to create the meadow for cattle grazing. When the land became the Hansville Greenway, the association chose to maintain Otter Meadow and Bear Meadow to give wildlife a chance.

                That requires annual mowing, mostly to remove invasive blackberries, and digging out red alders that would take over the meadows in no time.

                “Dennis can accomplish more in an hour than we could in a day,” Howie says. “Without him, it’s very difficult for us. He has the right equipment.”

                Howie complements Dennis’s work with his own dedication to keeping the red alders in check. Dennis leaves patches of Douglas spirea in both meadows and that’s where the red alders wisely sprout. Howie now digs them out by the roots 40 or 50 at a time.

                “A lot more life expresses itself in the meadows,” Howie says. “We thank Dennis for all his efforts.”

Cynthia Taggart

October 2021

A Walk in the Wetlands

                A stone’s throw from Twin Spits Road, a special trail offers solitude among the salmonberry and a vision of blue sky dappled with thousands of green alder leaves. The Hansville Greenway Trail through the Alder Wetlands pulls hikers away from rumbling cars and trucks and into a world of chirping chickadees, croaking frogs and crowing roosters.

                “The whole idea was to connect downtown Hansville to the Greenway, but we almost gave up,” said Ken Shawcroft, one of the Hansville Greenway founders.

                Trail founders finally overcame private property issues—a donation of land helped—and began planning a trail that offered a walkway to downtown and the Greenway’s only fully accessible pathway for people of all abilities. The trail includes three wide boardwalks covered in non-slip webbing. One of the boardwalks is about 40 yards long. Boardwalks are necessary to protect the wetlands beneath.

                The trail is surfaced with small size compacted gravel offering easy access for wheelchairs, bikes and strollers.

                “We have a neighbor who takes his leaf blower and blows the leaves off the trails. That doesn’t happen on other parts of the Greenway,” says Art Ellison, a long-time Greenway volunteer who takes care of much of the maintenance on the wetlands trail.

                A pond was constructed and was visible for a short time from a peaceful viewing platform bordered on three sides by generous benches. Volunteers directed water from the adjacent neighborhood to fill the pond. The idea was that people could sit at the platform to enjoy it. Over time, it filled with silt and tall grass now hides it from view, although it is home for a variety of birds and insects.

                The platform is dedicated to Helen Leckner, mother of Dori Leckner, a Kitsap County Parks senior maintenance supervisor. Dori was a good friend to the Greenway and donated the necessary funds for platform’s construction.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is AlderWetlandplaque.jpg

                It bears mentioning that parking is scarce at the trail. It is best to park at Norwegian Point Park and walk to the trail. Parking is possible along Shoreview Drive, but be careful not to get off the shoulder as the ground is very soft and wet.

                “It’s a very popular trail,” says Art. “And it has the only trash can on the Greenway.”

By Cynthia Taggart

September 2021

Dog Days on the Greenway

                The moment Watson, our goldendoodle, pounced into the bushes off the side of the Hansville Greenway trail, my husband, Tom, seized his leash with two hands. Watson pulled like a sled dog to catch the frantic frog that hopped onto the trail, but Tom held tight and the frog eventually disappeared into a sea of sword ferns. We laughed, thoroughly entertained until we learned that Watson could have destroyed a breeding area or terrorized a frog that was probably just surviving.

                “It’s a wildlife preserve,” says Michael Szerlog, president of the Hansville Greenway Association. “Dogs that go off trail are a challenge to wildlife.”

                Despite signs that direct people to leash their dogs, many dogs travel the trails untethered. Most are trained well and respond to their owners’ commands. But some stray off the trails and can scare ground-nesting birds from their nests, leaving eggs unprotected from predators. When dogs play in ponds, they can tromp through amphibian breeding grounds. Just their presence can force animals to expend energy they need to find food and survive.

                And then there’s the hunting instinct. Even the best trained dog can’t resist the urge to chase a rabbit or deer, squirrel or mouse.

                “My dog is 15 and hardly walking anymore, but it sees a rabbit and tries to go after it,” Michael says.

                Off leash dogs bounding along the trails can scare children or knock over unsuspecting hikers. Unattended poop leaves messes for hikers and pathogens that can infect wildlife. The Greenway, like most of Kitsap County, is dog-friendly and provides Mutt Mitts at most entrances. Protecting the Greenway means owners pick up after their dogs and take the bag with them.

                “Dogs are allowed and that’s a good thing. We don’t want that to change,” Michael says. “But you have to be responsible about leashing them, for your own sake, the dog’s sake, and the protection of other people and wildlife.”

By Cynthia Taggart

August 2021

Nature’s Secrets Revealed

                Tom Strid tossed his shovel to the ground and eyeballed the 20 Hansville Greenway volunteers through his spectacles. Not a whiff of a breeze stirred the thigh-high grasses in Otter Meadow near Buck Lake while the July sun sank slowly on the western horizon.

                It’s a mystery!” Tom, a meadow expert, shouted like a prosecuting attorney. “This meadow shouldn’t be here.”

                And so began the Case of the Missing Trees, Tom’s foolproof method of teaching Kitsap fourth graders how terrains change. The pandemic kept fourth graders away this year, so Tom, David Vasquez, a water specialist, and John Mikesell, a native plant expert, graciously bestowed their expertise on trail volunteers.

                Waving a blackberry branch, Tom explained that many plants have dormant leaf buds below ground that spring to life to generate new leaves after an assault, such as animals munching on them. Research showed that a farmer cleared the area of trees 40 years ago so cows could graze. The farmer sold the property to Kitsap County in 1997 and the plants with underground leaf buds took over. Trail volunteers marveled like 10-year-olds at the solution.

                John continued the delight on the way out of the meadow and into the forest by identifying tall lavender flowers as Douglas spirea. He explained that the Native Americans used oval Cascara leaves along the trail as a laxative and that the hand-size thimbleberry leaf is tissue paper soft, hence its nickname: toilet paper plant.

                David provided microscopes at Upper Hawk’s Pond for viewing fly larva and mayfly nymphs, freshwater worms and nematodes, explaining their importance to the health of the rain-recharged aquifer that supplies Kitsap County’s water.

                “This was so special,” one volunteer gushed. Almost makes you want to volunteer.

                To volunteer, visit info@hansvillegreenway.org.

By Cynthia Taggart
Photos by Marilyn DeRoy

July 2021

The Man Who Bridged the Gap

                The next time you lean on the pedestrian bridge railing over Hawk’s Hole Creek on the Hansville Greenway to stare at the still water delighting the bugs, thank Martin Adams. Nestled in the sword ferns near a post to prevent motorized madness on the bridge is a simple memorial to tell hikers that Martin Adams was a great friend and tireless community volunteer. He was also the primary brains and energy behind the bridge.

                “He was a tremendous asset to the whole development of the Greenway,” says Ken Shawcroft, one of the Greenway founders. “We really miss him.”

                A bridge is a complicated venture requiring permits, professionals, and plenty of money. An anonymous donor gave $16,500 for the one over Hawk’s Hole Creek. Martin, with a background in mechanical engineering, coordinated the rest. He helped design a bridge that fits the graceful surroundings. He tilted the railings slightly to preserve the structure longer by allowing water to run off. He found building contractors for the construction and arranged for the delivery of materials on a private road. That delivery included cement piped from a truck two tenths of a mile to the construction site.

                “He was very detailed and a hard worker,” Ken says. “We were lucky to have him.”

                Martin was quiet and unassuming, but he knew how to catch the eye of Hansville residents on his bright yellow three-wheeled motorcycle. Ken said Martin volunteered on Greenway projects right up to his death a few years ago. You can appreciate him with a walk over the rock-solid bridge that’s a testament to his dedication to the Greenway.

By Cynthia Taggart

June 2021

A Place of Contemplation

                Salal and Labrador tea mingled on the Upper Hawk’s Pond shore, providing shade and protection for frogs and mallards long before the Quiet Place existed. Maureen Vis had never heard of the Quiet Place while she and her husband ran Foulweather Farm in Hansville back in the 1990s, but Maureen recognized the beauty of the pond and the importance of attracting people to its shores.

                Her vision along with others led to the Hansville Greenway trails, except Maureen was given little time to enjoy them. She was 56 when she died in 1998. Her family honored her life with the construction of a viewing platform at the Quiet Place and a plaque that says in part, “It was her hope that visitors to this special place would experience a bond with nature and renewal of spirit.”

“ She was a good leader, one of the Big 3 in the community,” says Ken Shawcroft, one of the Greenway founders.

                Women from the correctional institution at Purdy carried in the building materials for the platform, which was the first structure built on the Greenway. Architect John Armstrong designed a generous deck with sturdy benches that hovers at the pond’s edge. Volunteers provided labor.

From the platform’s vantage point, hikers see mallards and ring-billed ducks swimming through lily pads, bald eagles sizing up meal possibilities, an igloo-shaped beaver’s den. Two hikers once reported sighting a black-billed trumpeter swan sailing across the placid water.

                “I’ve seen artists drawing there, people reading,” Ken says.

                The perfect getaway.

Cynthia Taggart

May 2021

Lower Hawk’s Pond: A Nature and Wildlife Getaway

Before the Hansville Greenway trails were public, a lookout tower loomed over Lower Hawk’s Pond. It was makeshift, with a ladder up and a lawn chair on the platform—enough for someone to soak in the song of the redwing blackbirds and the stitch-stitch-stitch of the marsh wren.

                “The prior owner set it up. It was natural the trail would go there and we’d build another platform,” says Ken Shawcroft, an engineer and Shorewoods resident and one of the Greenway founders.

                Memorials from the families of Weencie Fite and Lauren Keen helped build the replacement platform. Weencie was a long-time area resident who supported the trail in every possible manner for a woman in her 90s.

Lauren was the daughter of Chuck and Linda Keen, who owned the Hansville Garage. She died in college of a sudden illness. The platform bears a plaque in their honor.

                Retired architect John Armstrong designed the structure. His first thoughts were fanciful, his final plan practical. Bracing added stability after the finished lookout twisted a bit as people moved on it. Now it’s sturdy and solid and a magic window to pink-flowering spirea and bog laurel, pond lilies and cat tails, ospreys, eagles, muskrats, and wood ducks.

                For six months years ago, Ken hiked to the lookout every Sunday morning and recorded what he heard and saw for about three hours. Swallows and hood mergansers, red-tailed hawks and coyotes, beaver and mink, mallards and ring-necked ducks.

                “It’s a wetland. A lot of times you don’t see any birds but enjoy the peace and quiet,” he says. “Remember to bring your binoculars.”

By Cynthia Taggart

April 2021

Bridge Replacements Top List of Trail Projects

                After a horse punched its hoof through the decking of a bridge on the Hansville Greenway Trail System, Howie O’Brien knew repairs were a priority this year.

                “Some of those bridges are at the end of life, just worn down,” said Howie, who coordinates construction projects for the Greenway. “After this year, three of them will be wider and stronger.”

                For years, trail projects consisted mostly of maintenance—clearing downed trees, rerouting water from over the trails. The toll of wear and tear on structures, though, is obvious this year. Already, Howie and other volunteers have replaced boards in the viewing platform over Lower Hawk’s Pond.

                Kitsap County Parks provides the Greenway with $1,000 per year for supplies for projects. Volunteers provide the labor. This year the county money will cover the lumber for the bridges and two new benches where hikers can sit and listen to the redwing blackbirds and other birds sing.

                Bridges just off the Ponderosa entrance and on the Trillium Loop trail near Hawk’s Hole Creek will be widened from two feet to four feet and curbs will be added on the sides for more comfortable horse crossing. The final bridge design will come from Kitsap County Park probably in early May. Volunteers also will replace a bridge of logs that’s falling apart on the Hood Canal Drive trail.

                Projects for the future include a boardwalk over a perpetually muddy area at Post 10.

                “Mud is part of hiking, but horse traffic churns it up and bikes leave ruts,” Howie said.

                Most projects take no more than an hour to complete. To volunteer, contact Art Ellison at info@Hansvillegreenway.org.

Cynthia Taggart

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