A dirt road winds through tall trees on the Miller Peninsula state part property in this 2018 file photo. File photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

A dirt road winds through tall trees on the Miller Peninsula state part property in this 2018 file photo. File photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

State officials to talk future of Sequim-area parks

The future of two Sequim-area state parks — one that state officials are looking at as its next “destination park — are the subjects of discussion at a public input and planning meeting set for Wednesday, June 30, on Zoom.

The online meeting, scheduled for a 6 p.m. start, 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.

Check out the meeting online at bit.ly/MillerPenMtg063021. (The meeting is held on Microsoft Teams but attendees do not need to download it to join; they need a web browser and speakers to watch and listen).

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 planning@parks.wa.gov, or 360-902-8658.

Previous park planning efforts

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 with 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.

Those efforts were reinvigorated in the following years, and in November 2019 staff recommended to the state parks commission that they select Miller Peninsula as the next full-service state park.

“The amount of space at Miller Peninsula that is suitable for development provides an unmatched opportunity to explore a full suite of potential state park facilities and amenities, making it the ideal site in which to craft the state park of tomorrow,” parks staff noted in its recommendation in late 2019.

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 be a compliment to what is offered at 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.

Washington State Parks look to create a master plan for development of Miller Peninsula as the next “destination” state park. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Washington State Parks look to create a master plan for development of Miller Peninsula as the next “destination” state park. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

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