We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country—some might even say the world. So why not make the most of being outdoors and enjoy access to natural areas while also improving our health, happiness and overall quality of life?
That is the vision of Kaniksu Land Trust, which is working hard to bring an area known as Pine Street Woods to life for the benefit of the entire community. Once acquired, the Pine Street Woods property will be owned by Kaniksu Land Trust and managed as a working and recreational landscape.
To date, fundraising efforts to purchase the property and get it ready for all the community to enjoy has brought in $1.685 million. With $415,000 still needed, the vision should soon be a reality.
“We feel great about the positive response to Pine Street Woods,” said Jim Zuberbuhler, who co-chairs the Pine Street Woods committee. “But we still need our entire community to rally with contributions of time, talent and money to make this community forest a reality.”
Among the initial improvements needed will be an access road, parking area at the trailhead and signage. The property, just minutes from Sandpoint off West Pine Street, is easily accessible and would be a gift for generations to come.
Kaniksu Land Trust is a locally based not-for-profit organization that works to promote healthy lands and healthy communities by engaging the community with the outdoors to better overcome challenges related to both health and education. Recognized as an accredited land trust just over two years ago, the organization has worked hard on several projects spanning from Bull River Valley in Montana to right here in Sandpoint.
Pine Street Woods will be an ideal place to enjoy biking, family gatherings, hiking, Nordic skiing, walking, snowshoeing, exploring and more. It will also be home for all of the outreach, education and healthy-living programs that Kaniksu Land Trust facilitates.
One of those programs, ParkRx, provides people with an opportunity to treat their chronic illnesses with outdoor activity. One community member, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, took part in the initial study for ParkRx and found her blood sugar dropped significantly after a minimum of 30 minutes of walking each day; she was able to control her diabetes with only diet and exercise.
Other programs supported by Kaniksu Land Trust include Camp Kaniksu, which helps connect young people to nature, and K-12 Outdoor Education—a program that provides interdisciplinary science curriculum to hundreds of school children.
Their Storywalk™ program promotes opportunities for kids and their parents to enjoy the outdoors together, not only exercising but reading as well.
Kaniksu Land Trust reports in its 2015 Bonner County ParkRx Pilot Data that more than half of the children and adults surveyed either don’t or cannot experience nature. This is an unfortunate statistic given that spending time outdoors has proven to boost one’s immune system, provide greater self-esteem, increase energy level, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve sleep, reduce obesity and related illnesses, and increase overall emotional well-being.
One of the great things about this acquisition is that Pine Street Woods will be a community forest in perpetuity so that any gift given will last forever. Also, it will be open to other agencies and schools to utilize for programs and experiential education. Kaniksu Land Trust will seek input from the community to help shape how the property will be developed and will also expand its programs so that more and more people can benefit from the property.
Many community organizations and entities have already offered their support for Kaniksu Land Trust’s initiative. Some of these include the Idaho Trails Association, Lake Pend Oreille School District, Pend Oreille Pedalers and the Sandpoint Nordic Club.
The Kaniksu Land Trust team aims to finalize ownership of the Pine Street Woods property and open it to the public by late summer 2018. “An ambitious goal for sure,” said Eric Grace, executive director of Kaniksu Land Trust. “But the people of Sandpoint, Dover and Ponderay are known for their generosity and their ability to make big things happen.”
According to Grace, you can help establish this much-needed community forest just minutes from Sandpoint, but time is of the essence. “Kaniksu Land Trust has a limited time to purchase Pine Street Woods,” he said. “Your gift will give our community a forest to use and enjoy forever.”
To donate, go online to KaniksuLandTrust.org/pine-street-woods and click Donate Here, where you have the option to give a one-time gift or set up a monthly donation. You can also mail a check to Kaniksu Land Trust Pine Street Woods, P.O. Box 2123, Sandpoint, ID 83864.
You can learn more about Kaniksu Land Trust’s Pine Street Woods project by visiting Kaniksu.org or calling them at 208.263.9471 with questions.