KLT eyes iconic property for community access

By Reader Staff

Bonner County is experiencing growth at an astounding pace. Since this past January, more than 500 parcels of five acres or more have changed hands across the county. This hit close to home last month when the historic sledding hill parcel on Pine Street came on the market. This particular parcel has been part of the community’s story for more than 100 years. With lush forestlands, meadows and a large pond, it is a property with vast potential amid a booming real estate market. In an effort to preserve this iconic property for the community, KLT immediately submitted an offer to purchase the property. 

Skiers limber up before barreling down the Pine St. Hill. Photo courtesy Bonner County Historical Society, taken circa 1950s.

“Historic farmsteads such as this are disappearing at an alarming rate. This one in particular, which serves as the gateway to Pine Street Woods, is very special. KLT is doing everything possible to acquire this land in order to conserve it and to share it with our community,” said KLT Conservation Director Regan Plumb. 

The Pine Street neighborhood has been known to Sandpoint locals as a low-key destination for various outdoor pursuits since the 1920s, when a rope tow powered by a car motor was first established on the sledding hill. Since the early 2000s, neighboring private property owners have also allowed public access for walking and mountain biking on the Greta’s Segway and Sherwood Forest trails. More recently, Pine Street Woods was added to the mix in 2019 after Kaniksu Land Trust purchased the property and opened these 180 acres to the public for mountain biking, walking, skiing, picnicking, school groups and more. This neighborhood, just west of downtown Sandpoint, has a long and rich community history. 

In 2019, the Weisz Family made the difficult decision to discontinue public access to their Pine Street sledding hill. Since then, the community has watched with anticipation to see what would become of the beloved property. 

KLT Executive Director Katie Cox expects there will be competing offers for the parcel, but hopes that it can be preserved for continued community access and future generations.

“We’ve always known that there would come a day when we would have the chance to acquire this lower parcel and reconnect it with Pine Street Woods,” Cox said. “That day has come. This land has been a part of our community story for so many years. It’s hard to imagine just how many have felt the thrill of sledding or skiing down that hill. We dearly hope to preserve this story, and to add to it in the years to come, by acquiring this property.”  

In its first year of operation, Pine Street Woods saw some 20,000 visits, indicating strong support for public access lands near downtown Sandpoint. KLT envisions extending the same community-centered approach that was adopted for the management of Pine Street Woods to this new property, should the purchase come to fruition. 

“If we are successful in the acquisition of this property, we look forward to inviting our community to a conversation about how the land can best serve our mutual needs,” Cox said. 

In addition to stewarding its natural assets, KLT envisions this land as a long-term home for two of its newest initiatives: Kaniksu Folk School and Kaniksu Lumber.

KLT also hopes to reopen the Pine Street sledding hill to the public, citing the need for open access to recreation opportunities.

“For some, sledding may be the sole form of outdoor recreation enjoyed during long winter months,” Cox said. “It is unique in that it can be shared and enjoyed by users of all ages and abilities with no technical skills or equipment needed. The prospect of bringing the sled hill back to life, with appropriate parking and traffic flow, is very compelling.”

“This enormous undertaking cannot be done without important partnerships and a community of supporters.” Cox added. “I hope that anyone who has an interest in protecting this historic property will reach out to us. Our door is always open and we are just a phone call away. We look forward to hearing from you. Together we can make this community project come to life.” 

For more information or to get involved, call 208-263-9471 or email [email protected]

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