A group of islanders is passionate about expanding the Ted Olson Nature Preserve and has already raised $207,000 to do just that.
Supporters of the expansion say a 2-acre parcel adjacent to the preserve and a few feet from an existing trail is at risk of development. The Kallgren estate is delaying listing the property to give them time to raise the needed $350,000. A little over 100 households have already donated.
As part of the effort a 1953 Chevy 1 ton pickup is being auctioned off at 11 a.m. Dec. 19 at Bay Hay and Feed. Harry and Maribeth Gibbons donated the truck, which has been in the family since the 1950s. Rolling Bay Auto helped out by getting the truck running.
The neighborhood group, led by Nancy Norton, has been at this since August, when real estate signs popped up on the property and a piece of it was cleared out for access.
The neighborhood group, which calls itself Friends of Ted Olson, asked the Bainbridge Island Land Trust if it was going to get involved in obtaining the land from the Kallgren estate. The land trust was heavily involved in the Rockaway Bluff Preserve project at the time and asked for the group to start fundraising.
So four neighbors got together and started putting up hundreds of fliers around the area asking for pledges to help buy the land. Once pledges started coming in the Land Trust stepped up and signed a purchase and sale agreement.
However, Friends of Ted Olson needs to keep collecting donations to pull this off.
Norton said if the deal falls through development would disrupt animal habitat.
“It’s pastoral in many ways,” Norton said of the property. “A couple of houses slapped in there up against the trails would change the whole character.”
Norton said the Ted Olson Nature Preserve is very important to people who live east of Highway 305.
“It’s our mini Grand Forest,” which is west of the highway, Norton said. “A lot of people use it,” but others didn’t even know about it until they saw the fliers.
She said most of the donors have given from $500 to $1,000, but they’ve received a few for $10,000 and a few others for more than that.
“It all adds up,” she said. “The Land Trust was pretty blown away, too. It just goes to show how important is it to the neighborhood.”
The initial 10 acres of the nature preserve was donated to the Park District in 1973 by Theodore Olson, whose family owned it since the turn of that century. In 1982 Scouts developed the .3 mile Ted Olson Trail, a loop that meanders through a rolling forested hillside. In 2010 the 5-acre Kallgren Addition was added, with a trail .2 miles. Another path, the Winthers Trail, is .1 mile. The preserve features towering conifers and wetlands. The park is open to hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. Dogs are allowed on a leash. Parking is at 11800 N. Madison Ave. The newest addition would be at NE Winther and Kallgren roads.
To donate go to www.bi-landtrust-org/donate or mail to Bainbridge Island Land Trust, P.O. Box 10144, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. Supporters say be sure to mark it Ted Olson Nature Preserve, which is separate from the Stand for the Land drive. Email FriendsofTedOlson@gmail.com if you have questions.