When people think of Silverdale, many immediately see it as a large shopping center, massive parking areas and lots and lots of traffic. It’s hard to believe that in 1841, Capt. Wilkes sailed into a bay from Puget Sound and named it Dyes Inlet.
Emptying into that bay was a productive salmon stream we now know as Clear Creek. Today, because of the vision and support of thousands of volunteers, this creek and the Clear Creek Trail have become the heart and soul of the Silverdale community.
The vision and mission of the volunteers have been to preserve, protect and restore the Clear Creek ecosystem while building a wonderful walking trail that is sensitive to the stream and protects the natural habitat and open spaces of the watershed. It is a fantastic example of what people can do in an urban setting to protect, preserve and restore the beauty of a natural setting while still allowing the citizens of the community to access, explore and enjoy the experience of nature.
Much of the credit for the establishment of this wonderful resource goes to Paul Brittain and Tex Lewis, two men who more than 25 years ago began to have a vision for the establishment of a Clear Creek trail system. Their leadership helped make this vision a reality. Every community project has leaders who have a vision and a passion for making the community better and that was certainly true in the case of the Clear Creek Trail. Over the years, thousands of volunteers and community organizations have worked to establish programs, clear brush, create trails and protect the resource.
The Clear Creek Task Force was formed in 1993 and operates under the aegis of the former Kitsap Land Trust, a 501(c)3 organization known today as the Great Peninsula Conservancy. The task force has created an ambitious master plan for the watershed with a goal of developing a trail system, enhancing the stream for salmon and wildlife, educating and increasing public awareness.
The Clear Creek Task Force is an alliance of Kitsap County citizens, businesses, groups and service organizations with a mission of maintaining a community-wide network to support and restore the Clear Creek Trail and ecosystem. The group meets the first Thursday of every month and everyone is welcome to be involved in this volunteer, community-based organization. Many organizations continue to participate in the effort including the Suquamish Tribe, Central Kitsap School District, Central Kitsap Kiwanis Club, Silverdale Rotary, Silverdale Lions Club and Kitsap Parks and Recreation, among many, many others who care about this project.
An Adopt a Trail program was created, and the Central Kitsap Kiwanis Club was the first to adopt a section of the trail to maintain it, clear brush and plant new trees, among other tasks. Since then, many other individuals and organizations have adopted other sections. Many people also work on developing programs for the Interpretive Center including bringing in speakers and exhibits and conducting guided walks on the trail.
A major new improvement to the system is the new Bucklin Hill Bridge, now under construction by the county. This project will help restore a natural tidal flow to the creek and increase the outward flow into Dyes Inlet. Clear Creek was a very productive salmon stream and this project will restore some of the floodplain and the salmon population Last year, 900 students released salmon into Clear Creek.
The thousands of people who have volunteered their time and money over the past 25 years to build and protect the Clear Creek Trail and ecosystem have left a lasting legacy to the community for future generations to enjoy and hopefully appreciate. As we witness in almost every project of this kind, leadership, vision and passion have changed a community.