The hard working goats were at it again at Blakely Harbor Park!

Blakely Harbor Park map - courtesy of BIMPRD
Blakely Harbor Park map – courtesy of BIMPRD

This isn’t their first visit to Blakely Harbor Park, in 2018, a large herd was brought in to clear blackberry and other invasive weeds from areas of the park that are now replanted with thriving native vegetation. However, there’s always more work to be done, and thanks to Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation funding, the goats were able to return, working through a dense patch of over an acre of blackberry and ivy off NE Country Club Rd.

Blakely Harbor Park - goats April 2023 - 1 image credit BIMPRD
Blakely Harbor Park – goats April 2023 – 1 image credit BIMPRD

Tammy Dunakin, whose Vashon Island company Rent-A-Ruminant, brought over her herd of nearly 100 goats to get the work done. Tammy and her goats are on a mission to help landowners clear invasive species and other brush. In addition, Tammy’s wife runs a goat rescue, where they take in goats in need of care. Goats that enjoy the travel and interacting with the public get to join Tammy’s working herd. Tammy is passionate about her work, not just because it helps clear the land, but also because it helps the goats and the people she works with.

This isn’t their first trip over either, last May, Tammy and her goats assisted in the clean-up at the new STO trail at Sakai Park. “They’re happy. They’re doing what goats are designed to do,” Tammy told us last year. “They’re designed to eat ‘browse’ – not feed or hay, that’s not their main thing. They love to climb, and they love new things because they’re very smart and very inquisitive.”

Once the above-ground vegetation is cleared, the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District’s (BIMPRD) Student Conservation Corps, volunteers, and contractors, like Seattle-based EarthCorps, will begin removing root balls, spreading woodchip mulch, and replanting the site with additional native vegetation.

Blakely Harbor Park - goats April 2023 - image credit Kevin Dwyer
Blakely Harbor Park – goats April 2023 – image credit Kevin Dwyer

“Blakely Harbor Park connects protected lands to the north and south, and acts as a keystone for restoration activity on the south end of Bainbridge Island,” says Lydia Roush, the Park District’s Natural Resource Manager. “Removing invasive species at Blakely Harbor Park has far-reaching effects and helps improve habitat, restore ecological function, and build resilience to climate change and sea level rise.”

“Blakely Harbor Park is a special place, sustained by residents joining together to preserve a historical and ecological gem,” said Mary Meier, Executive Director of the Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation. “The weed-eating goats are an innovative stewardship solution, sustained through donations to the Parks & Trails Foundation. It’s exciting to see the park transform, with invasives out and native plantings taking hold and thriving.”

Blakely Harbor Park (also known as Port Blakely) was once the home of the Port Blakely Mill, which was “known as the largest, highest-producing sawmill in the world”. The Port Blakely Mill Company was established 1864, and burned to the ground in 1888 and again in 1907. Each time it was rebuilt. Today, the mill pond and ruins of the mill are accessible to the public in a city park at the west end of the harbor.

The initial 20-acre parcel that would become Blakely Harbor Park was purchased by the Bainbridge Island Parks District from Port Blakely Tree Farms in December 1999. It took the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, the Parks District, and several other island groups many years to negotiate the acquisition and raise the funds needed to preserve this historic site. An additional 18 acres was purchased in November 2001.

Blakely Harbor Park - Blakely Hills Trails map - image courtesy of BIMPRDSince its acquisition, a footbridge was installed across the historic jetties, which completes the park’s loop trails, allowing visitors to circumnavigate the whole park on a continuous series of trails and pathways. The bridge is 65 feet long and weighs 3,800 pounds. The wide-ranging trail network at the island’s south end, continues north past historic Blakely Cemetery and into the Eagledale neighborhood, and south and west to Fort Ward Park and the Fort Ward national historic district.

Through the tireless efforts of the Parks & Trails Foundation, the Parks District, private citizens, and other organizations, including the Student Conservation Corps and Weed Warriors, the park continues to thrive. In 2023 alone, Park District volunteers have contributed more than 500 volunteer hours to Blakely Harbor Park, helping transform the site into a destination park. Their efforts are restoring native shoreline habitat, connecting miles of island trails for hikers, and welcoming thousands of visitors each year.

Looking to get involved? Learn more about how to get involved and make a positive impact by visiting If you are passionate about the restoration of Blakely Harbor Park, consider supporting it with a gift to the Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation. Every gift, no matter the size, can make a significant impact in preserving and maintaining this beautiful park. To donate, simply visit

BI Parks Foundation, BIMPRD, BI Land Trust - logos*Information/text provided by Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, and the Bainbridge Island Land Trust / Photo credits: Kevin Dwyer and BIMPD

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