By Ben Olson
Driving up to the newly purchased property known as the Pine Street Woods, it’s obvious that Kaniksu Land Trust has been busy. A new, wide gravel road winds gently to the top of the shelf where PSW sits and terminates into a large parking lot where trailheads and a recreation center will soon rise from the forest floor.
The nonprofit land conservation organization will be even busier this fall, thanks to a $5,000 grant it received from the American Association of Retired People Idaho. The grant, presented Monday in the meadow atop PSW by AARP Idaho State Director Lupe Wissel, will fund a half-mile paved path providing access from the trailhead to the meadow.
Wissel said it was “innovation” that led AARP Idaho to select PSW for the grant out of only four projects in the state.
“We were looking at projects that were innovative,” she said. “This project gives an opportunity for the young and old to access open spaces. This can benefit an 8- or an 80-year-old.”
Regan Plumb, conservation director for KLT, said the new paved trail will skirt the edge of the meadow, with the dream to make it a loop trail someday.
It’s not just the paved trail that is keeping KLT busy. In the coming months, the organization will break ground on trailhead shelters, signage and a 1,900-square-foot recreation center that will serve as PSW’s hub. The rec center will also house a Nordic groomer and include ample storage space. The plan — thanks to the wide entry road — is to accept busloads of local schoolchildren for a new student learning center that focuses on outdoor stewardship and education.
The plan is to break ground in mid-August and finish the major construction in time for a Sept. 21 grand opening.
The Pine Street Woods has been in the works for almost a decade, with KLT finalizing the land purchase in March 2019.
KLT Executive Director Katie Cox said the success of the project is mostly thanks to the community.
“We are really thankful for how giving this community is — not just private people, but businesses, too,” Cox said.
Upon completion, the PSW will contain numerous hiking and mountain biking trails, a summer camp and outdoor education area, groomed Nordic trails during the winter months — and that’s only the beginning. The $5,000 grant from AARP will ensure the woods are easily accessible by the elderly and physically challenged populations in Sandpoint.
“When we talk about aging, we want people to have rich lives,” Wissel said. “This is the perfect opportunity.
For more information about the Pine Street Woods, visit kaniksulandtrust.org.
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