Diggings logo

WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on place-based stewardship education. Since 2001, a partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department (KNRD) has supported this newsletter and allowed us to expand class offerings through EPA funding. Further staff support comes through Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA). Many thanks to our partners and to you, our readers, for your continued enthusiasm for "digging" into the natural history and culture of this part of the world.

Outdoor Recreation Paradise

by Dixie Chichester

For those of us who count the minutes until the next time we can get out to hike, fish, camp, bike, picnic, swim, paddle or ride in our own incredibly gorgeous Pend Oreille County, the near future may prove to be extremely exciting. The Pend Oreille County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is currently in the process of developing a new Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan and is setting some mighty nice goals and objectives concerning our outdoor recreation opportunities in the next 6 years. Some of the possible projects outlined in the new plan include the construction of more trails, a disc golf course, improved camping/ picnicking opportunities, environmental education/outdoor recreation programming, activities for youth and improvements and expansion of our popular, new Pend Oreille River Water Trail.

The 2008 Commissioners (Oliver, Merrill and Cummings), realizing that a vibrant county parks and recreation program would not only provide recreation opportunities for County residents but also attract tourists, entice new residents, improve the County's economy and provide jobs, passed a resolution stating all proceeds from timber sales from a section of land ceded to the County by the State Department of Natural Resources be deposited into the Park Fund to establish and improve parks and recreation throughout Pend Oreille County. This Park Fund, enlarged by some recent logging, along with a new, approved Parks and Recreation Plan, will allow Pend Oreille County to apply for grants and receive matching funds to assist in renovating and developing new parks and recreation facilities and programs.

The Parks and Recreation Board has gone to great lengths to determine what types of outdoor recreation activities the residents of Pend Oreille County desire. In June of this year, 244 participants in an outdoor recreation survey made their opinions known about current park facilities, desired activities and parks and recreation financing. The top two requests were for more self-guided nature trails and more day-use picnic areas. Complete results of the survey can be found on the survey link on the parks and recreation page of the County website, www.pendoreille.org/county/parks.asp

The survey also tried to determine levels of satisfaction of existing County parks. Thanks to the efforts of WSU Extension, Kalispel Tribe, PORTA, US Forest Service, PUD and many other agencies, one of the highest rated and most often used outdoor recreation opportunities is the scenic Pend Oreille River Water Trail. There are currently about 24 designated water trail sites and Pend Oreille County owns 12 of them. At these 12 sites, plans are in place to improve boat launches, add picnic tables, install interpretive signs, build a restroom at one of the sites and develop wildlife viewing areas. Water sport classes, paddling tours and other water/nature related programs are also on the agenda.

In order to turn these plans into reality, Pend Oreille County and other outdoor recreation agencies in the area will require plenty of assistance from volunteers. Please call right now and join others in the "Adopt a Water Trail Site" to help in maintaining a clean and safe Water Trail. Watch in 2014 for the opportunity to become a member of the Pend Oreille County Parks and Recreation Foundation. You can also visit the County parks and recreation website (shown above) to keep track of planned projects and events. For more details about any of these programs or to place your name on the new Parks and Recreation e-mail/mailing list, call the Pend Oreille County Community Development Office at 509 447-6454. Right now opportunities in “Outdoor Recreation Heaven” are all around us and it is great news that those opportunities will just be getting better and better.

<----previous article...Diggings Fall 2013...next article---->