By Charles Mortensen
After nearly a decade of dreaming, trails are coming to Pine Street Woods, and they’re coming quickly. Kaniksu Land Trust, which purchased the 160 acres of woods following a two-year capital campaign, got right to work following their March closing date to develop a collaborative trails plan with input from an array of community stakeholders. Now, just eight weeks later, construction is underway.
The vision for Pine Street Woods involves offering a range of recreational experiences, especially for beginner and intermediate users. This will be a safe place for those who have never before wandered the forest, ridden their bike on a trail, or explored on cross country skis or snowshoes.
To that end, initial design plans will incorporate a network of “wide” trails to accommodate social hikes, school groups, picnickers and cross-country skiers, in addition to “narrow” trails for hikers, mountain bikers and snowshoers.
Kaniksu Land Trust has created four advisory sub-committees to aid in implementation of KLT’s vision for the Woods. These include Infrastructure, Forestry, Programming and Trails/Recreation. Infrastructure prepares the canvas, Forestry helps maintains the beauty and health of the palette, Programs are the essence of KLT’s vision, and Trails are the arteries that provide access to that vision by the public.
“The collaborative planning process around trails has been deeply satisfying, and also productive,” said Regan Plumb, interim executive director at KLT. “It’s been critical to assemble all the parties from the get-go, and make sure we are well-aligned before breaking ground. We want to get this right the first time, because these trails will be here for generations.”
Representatives from Pend Oreille Pedalers (POP), Sandpoint Nordic Club (SNC), Idaho Trails Association (ITA) and casual naturalists recently gathered around the table with KLT staff and Jeff Thompson of Rocky Mountain Trail Resources (RMTR). The fruits of their efforts were recently approved by the Trails sub-committee, composed of KLT staff, board and community members. KLT has engaged RMTR to conduct the narrow trail construction, and POP has generously donated the use of their mini-excavator as well as dozens of hours of volunteer support.
Thompson and POP are currently constructing a narrow trail intended for beginners that will extend approximately two kilometers (or 1.2 miles) and connect to the existing Greta’s Segway and Little John trails of the adjacent Sherwood Forest property. KLT’s Trails sub-committee anticipates significant expansion of narrow trails in 2020.
The wide trails will be developed on existing old logging roads and the plan is to complete 5 to 7 kilometers (or approximately 3 to 4.3 miles) in 2019, starting in July. The Nordic club has provided significant input regarding the design of this network.
“The majority of work will involve pruning overhead branches, removing encroaching brush, removing a few trees, and some grading work”, said Ross Longhini, SNC President. “The Trails sub-committee will be soliciting volunteers to help with this work.”
Those interested in helping can check the KLT website (https://kaniksulandtrust.org/) for opportunities to get involved as plans develop. The land trust anticipates the network of wide trails to provide avenues through the forest for a variety of KLT programs and recreational opportunities, as well as constitute a Nordic ski trail network to be maintained with assistance from SNC.
The formal opening of Pine Street Woods is planned for later this summer, after the completion of road upgrades, sign installation, trail construction and other infrastructure. In the meantime, the land trust requests that users refrain from accessing the property until the official opening, so that the work can be completed in a timely manner and without endangering public safety.
Drive-in access will be via a ¾ gravel approach off of West Pine Street beyond the sled hill. There is no access from Pine Street Hill. Hikers and mountain bikers will also be able to access the property via the Greta’s Segway trail through the Manning Buffer, or from the Syringa Trails system at discrete locations.
Kaniksu Land Trust’s implementation of its vision for trails in Pine Street Woods creates a crucible, of sorts, by which various trails-oriented groups and enthusiasts can work together under KLT’s direction to implement a coordinated plan that benefits the Sandpoint community as a whole.
As Sandpoint and its surroundings continue to be discovered as an area known for its natural beauty, access to nature and recreational opportunities, trails become an increasingly important part of the picture. Stay tuned to the KLT web site for further developments and volunteer opportunities.
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