A bald eagle stands by the entrance to the deforested parcel
A bald eagle stands at the entrance of the clear-cutters' deforested parcel in 2022. Their submittals claim no eagle activity on or near their project.
Latest Update (January 8, 2023): Neighbors in the Southworth community have documented extensive evidence of negative environmental impacts caused or worsened by the clear-cutters' 2019 deforestation violation. This submission to Kitsap County is a preemptive response to the environmental (SEPA) checklist submitted by the clear-cutters for their after-the-fact deforestation permit. That checklist contains at least 39 inaccurate answers by the clear-cutters.

Our submission contains photos, videos, diagrams, maps, and textual evidence along with associated research, code citations, and proposals. In October, the County's Department of Community Development (DCD) refused to receive this information in a form that included online evidence such as YouTube videos. Neighbors then submitted all the data directly to the County in November, but neither the environmental reviewers nor the office of the Hearing Examiner is acknowledging receipt of this 1.5 gigabytes of material.

We must increase pressure on the Kitsap DCD to consider the existing environmental impacts already witnessed around this 2019 deforestation. The DCD has yet to show meaningful concern for the details of these impacts. We urge you to contact the County and ask them to consider the impacts of this deforestation. Additional Southworth community members are being added as "interested parties" on this permit, which will amplify their feedback when the Hearing Examiner compels the County to consider our evidence and opinions.

Once the County has examined the evidence, we will share it on this website. We thank the community for its support in assembling the response, and please contact us at trees@southworthforest.org if you would like to be involved. We continue to collect additional evidence of impacts. Meanwhile, restoration work continues in the neighboring forest, with over 100 tree plantings scheduled for this season. Learn more at the GoFundMe page.

View past SouthworthForest.org updates.

Deforestation causes climate change, and the Southworth community in Port Orchard, Washington is not immune to this reality. Local forest canopies protect all of our homes and public spaces from the worsening effects of global warming, and Southworth has few remaining forests of any significant size.

Aerial photo of the forest violation
Aerial photo of the forest removal so far in Southworth.

In 2016, the Clemmensen family purchased one of Southworth's only remaining large, forested parcels at 11004 SE Southworth Dr. with the intent of restoring its acreage to a healthy conifer habitat, removing homeless encampments, decades of dumping, and noxious species. This work can be viewed from Southworth Dr. about two blocks west of the ferry terminal.

Not long after, the larger forested parcel behind the Clemmensens at 11090 SE Southworth Dr. and adjoining Level Lloyd Ln. was purchased by owners who clear-cut and re-graded their forest without the proper Kitsap County permit. Kitsap is requiring these owners to replant only a very small portion of the forest they destroyed, and the clear-cutters now propose removing up to 70 additional trees within a disputed easement in the Clemmensens' forest as well.

The Southworth community is asking for your help to urge Kitsap County to consider the impacts of deforestation in Southworth and require that the clear-cutters replant a buffer of conifers around the perimeter of their acreage and not remove an additional 70 trees from the Clemmensens' forest restoration project. You can make your voice heard to permit reviewers at Kitsap that are considering a corrective permit for the clear-cut owners, and you can support the Clemmensens' restoration and legal efforts to stop the further deforestation via GoFundMe.

Stop the deforestation of Southworth, Washington:

Tell Kitsap that we value the canopy of our trees as they consider the clear-cutters' second permit that seeks to clear more forested land.

Contact Kitsap

Contribute to the Clemmensens' fund to support their reforestation efforts and their Superior Court case against the clear-cutters.

Donate via GoFundMe

The Long Story:

The Clemmensen family
The Clemmensen family is restoring the neighboring forest.

When the Clemmensen family purchased 11004 SE Southworth Dr. in 2016, the vacant 5-acre lot was known in the community for its homeless encampments, illegal dumping, and unhealthy forest. Two blocks from the ferry terminal and highly visible from Southworth Dr., the land was used extensively by the public, and garbage ranging from small plastics to concrete, batteries, tires, barbed wire, and political signs littered the area.

Cleaning the garbage required years of careful removal of blackberries and scotch broom that dominated the property's thinning forest and covered the extent of the garbage, a process that continues into 2022. As sections of the acreage were cleared, the Clemmensens began planting a new generation of conifers to replace the ailing big leaf maples, alders, and cherry trees that are dying out. Each young tree requires deer protection.

By arborist recommendation, the property is being reforested with a combination of Douglas fir, Grand fir, Western red cedar, Grand sequoia, Western hemlock, and Sitka spruce. With climate change posing challenges for the cedars and hemlocks in our region, an emphasis is placed on fir and sequoia (redwood) trees to ensure long-term survivability. In 2019 to 2022, more than 150 trees of at least a half-gallon size have been planted.

In Southworth, we have witnessed significant tree loss in recent years, whether caused by wind, drought, Puget Sound Energy, or development. The process of planting large quantities of potted trees to replace our canopy is expensive and time-consuming. Young trees need watering in these record dry and hot summers, and the deer will nibble or rub many of the survivors to death. But the effort is well worth preserving whatever forest cover possible for the community.

Behind 11004 SE Southworth Dr. is 11090 SE Southworth Dr., which was long one of the largest forested properties in Southworth, its magnificent trees visible from the ferry terminal uphill of Level Lloyd Ln. Owned for many years by Mike and Deidra Kelly, this property's forest was magnificently maintained around a single residence, largely absent noxious weeds and containing a significant crop of younger trees, particularly cedars.

In 2017, new owners purchased the 11090 SE Southworth Dr. forest despite their apparent desire to live on a pasture. In 2019, they secured a Kitsap danger tree permit that allowed them to cut trees within 150 feet of inhabitable structures but leave the stumps, preserve the forest understory, and replant with conifers. Their site map showed no cutting on their northern-most acreage. Instead, they clear-cut roughly four acres, removed the young trees and ferns, and re-graded to produce their pasture. The forest habitat was destroyed.

For their danger tree permit, the clear-cutters had also promised Kitsap County that they would not remove trees within 250 feet of any wetlands. Sadly, they cleared and graded very near the edge of a Category IV wetland containing a stream. The clear-cutters did not survey their boundaries prior to their devastation of the environment, causing tree removal and/or re-grading on the Clemmensens' property to the west and 11128 SE Southworth Dr. to the north.

If the clear-cutters had obtained the proper Kitsap permit for their forest removal, the Southworth neighborhood would have been notified about the planned conversion and given the opportunity to comment to the Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD). The Clemmensens were among multiple parties to alert the DCD of the violations in progress, but DCD environmental planner Steve Heacock neglected to stop the clear-cutters. Instead, he assured that the clear-cutters would be required to replant; he later changed his mind.

Since the clear-cutting, trees on neighboring properties have become stressed. A surprisingly persistent wind from the southwest now blows across the clear-cutters' property onto neighbors to the west and north, bringing dust and heat not experienced before in those locations. The Clemmensens lost several young trees neighboring the clear-cut in 2021, and mature cedars in that area are dying back faster than other local cedars during recently dry summers.

Drainage problems are also caused by unpermitted deforestation when no engineering is done ahead of time. In this case, swales have carried excess stormwater from the northeast corner of the clear-cutters' property towards new pools west of Level Lloyd Ln. during the major winter storms of 2020 and 2021. Muddy water has poured from the property into the stream that then crosses into the Clemmensens' forest.

After the clear-cutters of 11090 SE Southworth Dr. had finished their land's conversion to pasture, only then did the Kitsap DCD cite them with multiple violations and put a stop-work order on their property. The clear-cutters applied a year later for a Site Development Activity Permit (SDAP) to "correct" their violations. But while the DCD is requiring the clear-cutters to restore a buffer along the wetlands on a small portion of their land, the County has waived other requirements and fees for the clear-cutters and has not yet required the environmental protection of tree buffers for the other neighbors on Southworth Dr. or Level Lloyd Ln.

The clear-cutters' supposedly corrective SDAP permit currently under consideration by the County also proposes to kill up to 70 trees in a disputed easement through the Clemmensens' forest so that the clear-cutters can build a second driveway entrance to their property that would be dedicated to a proposed goat barn. Losing those trees would expose the vegetation of three neighboring Southworth Dr. properties to even more damaging wind and heat.

The restoration efforts by the Clemmensens near the forest destruction are imperiled by the clear-cutters, and other neighboring properties have already suffered as a result of that same removal of canopy. The Clemmensens brought legal action against the clear-cutters for negligence (not getting the right permit), nuisance (the impacts of wind, heat, and dust), and timber trespass (for cutting and re-grading on Clemmensen property). Other neighbors did not have the financial means to fight the clear-cutters in court.

The end goal of the Southworth community is for Kitsap County to require the clear-cutters to replant a buffer of conifers and forest understory around the perimeter of their property to provide environmental protection for the community in the future. Neighbors never had an opportunity to protest the clear-cut ahead of time and deserve protection as temperatures continue to rise each summer. The Clemmensens also seek to save the 70 trees on their property that the clear-cutters are targeting next.

If you care about this deforestation in Southworth and wish to get involved, you have a few options. You can contact the reviewers of the clear-cutters' SDAP permit at the County by email and express your desire to protect Southworth by requiring the clear-cutters to replant buffers around all affected edges of their property. The first button below provides the contacts of those Kitsap reviewers and supervisors. Also, you can donate to the Clemmensens via GoFundMe to support their legal challenge of the clear-cutters and their ongoing reforestation efforts on their own property.

Tell Kitsap that we value the canopy of our trees as they consider the clear-cutters' corrective permit that seeks to clear more forested land.

Contact Kitsap

Contribute to the Clemmensens' fund to support their reforestation efforts and their Superior Court case against the clear-cutters.

Donate via GoFundMe

The view from Southworth Dr. of Clemmensens' restoration work
From the side of Southworth Dr. on the hill above the ferry terminal, you can see restoration efforts underway in the Clemmensens' forest after extensive garbage clean-up from encampments.

SouthworthForest.org - Site contact: trees@southworthforest.org - P.O. Box 4659, South Colby, WA 98384