(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

State to talk future of Sequim-area parks Wednesday

Miller Peninsula, Sequim Bay State Park in spotlight at virtual meeting

SEQUIM — The future of two parks, one of which state officials are calling the next “destination park,” will be the subject of discussion at a public input and planning meeting set for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The online meeting will focus on approaches of developing a new full-service state park on Miller Peninsula as well as alternatives for updates to Sequim Bay State Park.

The long-range planning for the mostly undeveloped Miller Peninsula State Park include land classifications, a long-term park boundary, a park master plan and an official park name. State officials also expect to have a pre-design report with detail on the first phase of development at the Miller Peninsula property, a 2,800-acre that includes a trail system for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians through a second-growth forest.

The meeting agenda also includes possible changes to Sequim Bay State Park, a year-round, 92-acre marine camping park with 4,909 feet of saltwater coast. State park officials have stated in previous interviews they plan to provide complementary experiences between the two Sequim-area parks.

The meeting will be online at bit.ly/MillerPenMtg063021. See parks.state.wa.us/1187/Miller-Peninsula-Planning for an overview of the Miller Peninsula project.

The public can provide written questions, comments and suggestions during the meeting and until July 18 at the project web page.

For more information, or to request special accommodations for the meeting, contact project planning lead Nikki Fields at [email protected], or 360-902-8658.

Miller Peninsula State Park includes a trail system built and maintained by local hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians through second-growth forest.

It also includes 3 miles of saltwater shoreline on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Discovery Bay.

In 2005, the Washington State Parks system began a six-year project to establish one of Washington’s next destination state parks, but shelved those plans because of a lack of secure funding.

“We did begin some work on developing Miller Peninsula in the mid-2000s; however, the effort was put on hold due to the economy,” Anna Gill, communications director for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, said in January 2020.

Pre-design and master planning for Miller Peninsula’s state park was slated for June while design and construction was tentatively planned for July 2021-June 2022, Gill said in early 2020.

Design and construction, however, was contingent on funding.

In April 2020, Clallam County commissioners said they would support a state effort to acquire the Jones Trust Property, a 21-acre parcel that includes a quarter-mile of shoreline that would provide Miller Peninsula State Park users with beach access.

“It is one of the few places in Miller Peninsula where it may be possible to build beach access, since most of the current property is high bank; access to the water will be important for park visitors,” the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program noted in a list of proposed state parks project funding requests for the 2021-2023 biennium.

“There’s not a particular easy way to get to the water,” Fields said.

State park board commissioners reviewed plans for Miller Peninsula’s park from Fields and business development manager Todd Tatum at a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission work session in Union in January 2020.

Fields and Tatum said the vision is for the property to be developed as a “destination” park, with users drawn from across the state and region.

State park board commissioner Sophia Danenberg said Miller Peninsula could be a more passive park where users simply enjoy the ecosystem, or a more recreation-based park providing opportunities that Olympic National Park doesn’t right now.

“I’d like to think that the property is big enough to do both,” parks commission director Donald Hoch said.

The property would complement heavily-used nearby parks such as Sequim Bay State Park in Clallam County as well as Fort Worden and Fort Flagler in Jefferson County, state park officials said.

Since plans fell through to grow the state park in the mid-2000s, Miller Peninsula has seen some development. Volunteers added signage on the property’s 20-mile trail system, one that is popular among hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

In 2014 and (finalized in) 2016, Hoch approved an interim trails plan for the peninsula property that included input from a Trail Advisory Group representing hiking, biking and equestrian trail users and neighbors.

In addition, the Peninsula Trails Coalition in 2017 developed a trailhead at the adjacent Diamond Point Road to go along with the addition of two more large sections of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

State park staff have done some work on a trailhead plan and some trail mapping, Fields said, but that there is plenty of work to be done in planning stages, including a site analysis and cost estimates as part of an overall master plan.

How to connect with the Olympic Discovery Trail will be part of the overall plan, she said.

“(We) also need a name for the park; Miller Peninsula is just a placeholder name,” Fields said.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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