Pine Street Woods became the heart of a thriving 320 acre public access area when it opened to the larger Sandpoint community in September of 2019. Hundreds of volunteers soon descended upon the property under the auspices of collaborative local trail groups with affinities for mountain biking, nordic skiing, and quiet forest walks.
It’s been nearly ten years since Kaniksu Land Trust committed to an expanded mission, moving beyond pure land conservation and into the emerging field of “community conservation”. This new model of conservation meant actively engaging with local communities to address challenges related to health, education and food security, and using KLT’s strong connection with land to generate unique and innovative solutions. As part of this new approach, KLT realized the need for a community access property located in close proximity to the population centers it served. This property should feature beginner terrain, an inspiring landscape, broad educational potential, partner appeal, and diverse possibilities for safe and accessible use for all segments of the community. This was the dream of Pine Street Woods.
Community surveys in 2016 and 2017 had revealed that our community was desperately seeking easier access to the outdoors. While our area has an abundance of public lands, many local trails are difficult to access, offer steep terrain, require technical knowledge or equipment, and are not suited for beginners or those with mobility issues. In addition, a community health assessment conducted in 2018 revealed that over 50% of area youth were not spending measurable time outdoors during the winter season, which is lengthy in our location. The need was clear.
In 2016, after evaluating several potential properties, KLT
entered into a purchase agreement for a 160-acre parcel near
Sandpoint and a $2.1 million fundraising campaign was
launched. The tiny non-profit, with a staff of 3.5 FTE, recruited
a handful of passionate community members to lead this ambitious campaign, and the race was on. Among many
generous donations from private foundations, government
agencies, and countless individual citizens alike, KLT received
a $100,000 award from the Idaho Department of Parks and
Recreation RTP program to support the acquisition of Pine
Street Woods. News of the award arrived at a critical juncture
near the close of the fundraising campaign, allowing KLT to
finalize the purchase just before the deadline agreed upon in
the purchase agreement. The dream was coming true.
Adding to the excitement, an adjacent property owner donated an additional 20 acres of undeveloped land as a contribution to a project that inspired him deeply, and the owners of a neighboring 140 acre conservation property that allows public access to its trails and open space made a strong show of support. Because of the property’s close proximity to local schools, local school administrators added their enthusiasm as well as they recognized the potential for experiential learning and natural resources based education just minutes from their schools in Sandpoint, Dover, and Ponderay.
Pine Street Woods became the heart of a thriving 320 acre public access area when it opened to the larger Sandpoint community in September of 2019. Hundreds of volunteers soon descended upon the property under the auspices of collaborative local trail groups with affinities for mountain biking, nordic skiing, and quiet forest walks. The traditional silos of user groups were broken down as a new trail system was born. The new network features multi-use trails designed to inspire all ages and abilities, including a 1⁄2 mile universal access trail leading directly from the parking lot into the forest that was built through the support of a grant from AARP.
Pine Street Woods is a prime example of multiple-use management and corridor sharing as all of the trails are designed for use by several types of user. Trails are classified as “wide” or “narrow”. Wide trails are for social walking and educational programs and are groomed during the winter months for Nordic skiing. Narrow trails are intended for mountain biking, trail running, hiking, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking. Regardless of the season, school groups and partner organizations are constantly present on the landscape. In 2019 alone, KLT’s education programs provided over 3,200 participant days of outdoor learning to local children, all at low or no cost.
The Pine Street Woods project enjoys tremendous community support. The capital campaign and initial preserve establishment phases, to which RTP contributed significantly, also included contributions from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program ($400,000), The Equinox Foundation ($500,000), LOR Foundation ($600,000), Idaho Forest Group ($150,000), Blue Cross Foundation for Health ($100,000) and donations from over 200 private individuals and local businesses. Initial establishment has included the construction of an access road and parking areas, an automated entrance gate, approximately 5 miles of multi-use trails, a community recreation center to house ski and snow- shoe rentals and provide a publicly accessible space to shelter users during inclement weather, and a vault toilet. In 2020, KLT received an additional RTP grant to develop more trails at Pine Street Woods, including connector trails to provide improved access from adjacent properties. In 2019 alone, over 300 hours of volunteer effort were donated to support the construction of new trails alone.
Although KLT owns the property and is responsible for the costs of management and maintenance, strong partnerships with other community organizations and business entities have brought transformative opportunities in the form of grant awards, volunteer expertise, and direct gifts. More information about Pine Street Woods can be found at www.kaniksulandtrust.org/pine-street-woods. KLT’s annual report is available at http://www.bit.ly/KLT- AnnualReport2019.
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2015: Boardman Bridge - Idaho
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2009: Meduxnekeag River Bridge - Maine
2008: Boundary Canal Trail (Phases I and II) - Florida
2007: Wild Rivers State Trail - Wisconsin
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