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). Our newest partner, sponsor of the Rain Garden Challenge, is the Pend Oreille Conservation District. Many thanks to our partners and to you, our readers, for your continued enthusiasm for "digging" into the natural history and culture ofthis part of the world.

The Verbrugge Legacy


by Sheldon Magnuson

Once in a while everyone wins. That was the case recently when the 600 acre Verbrugge woodlands on Scotia road was dedicated to the Whitworth College endowment program and protected from future residential development with a conservation easement administrated by the Inland Northwest Land Trust, (INWLT). Betty Verbrugge, surviving wife of Durand Verbrugge along with son Gary, are ensuring that their portion of the East Branch of the Little Spokane and surrounding forest, will always remain as one intact parcel. Whitworth College has long range plans for conservation studies and “hands on” student involvement on the property. Recently, Gary said, “We were looking for a way to protect our property from being chopped up and turned into little pieces. This is really what my father wanted. We are quite comfortable with working with Whitworth and also have found the conservation easement a perfect fit for our needs.”

Conservation easements, such as this one through the INWLT, are gaining popularity as agreements that can offer significant tax advantages and ensure that future uses of the property will follow an individual landowner’s intentions. The easement is recorded as a permanent part of the title of the land. Locally, forest landowners have tailored their individual easements to allow continued forestry activities on the land. In other words, an easement does not have to be restrictive for certain uses, such as timber management and farming.

Betty Verbrugge, who is living in the long term care facility at the Newport Community Hospital , has expressed a sense of relief, now that the complex process is almost complete. AConservation easement involves an accurate appraisal of the property’s most valuable use. It requires a lot of close work with qualified accountants, attorneys and land use experts. Chris Deforest, Executive Director, of the INWLT, said recently, “The land trust was excited to work with the Verbrugge’s because the land is big and beautiful. It’s got a long stretch of the little Spokane and tributaries on it. Protecting the land near the head waters of the Little Spokane helps ensure abundant clear water for everyone downstream.” Presently the land trust protects over 1800 acres in the Little Spokane River watershed.

The amazing artesian spring that feeds the East branch of the Little Spokane at Penrith is thought to be a remnant of the Pend Oreille River when it ran southward before the ice age floods. Gushing out at some 15,000 gallons a minute, the water stays between a cool 38 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Gary is residing on the scenic property in the original house that dates from the turn of the century. Retiring after years of government service he is looking forward to stewardship activities on woodlands. Working with the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, (NRCS) and their Environmental Quality Enhancement Incentive Program, (EQIP), will offer additional incentives to protect and promote the family goals of wildlife habitat enhancement and forest health protection. The EQIP program is a part of the federal farm bill. It has provisions in it that are designed to assist landowners with their farm and forestry needs. The Verbrugge plan will address thinning, pruning, reforestation, sediment delivery issues, native plants and wildlife habitat. Gary already has some 40 birdhouses of various designs ready to be placed at locations throughout the property. The Verbrugge home is the site of the original boarding house built in 1914 that was a stopping point for early day travelers. The Great Northern railway route coursed through the picturesque Scotia Valley , connecting Newport and points South with Spokane and ultimately, the trans- continental railway system. During its heyday, the hamlet of Scotia boasted a store with a post office, a one room school, two saloons, a hotel, a boarding house and a train depot, together with several early homesteads in the area. Charlie Graham’s saw mill was a few miles south and the bustling community of Penrith was four miles north. The Graham family furnished timbers for the early bridges in Spokane , including timber forms for the Monroe Street Bridge .

Arthur Marson purchased the boarding house sometime in the 1940’s and used the living room as a general store, with the rest as a dwelling. In 1960 Betty and Durand moved from Fort Dodge , Iowa , and purchased the home with acreage, in Section 8. Durand’s uncle, Harry Storms, had already owned property in Section 17. Betty started working in the treasurer’s office in 1964 and went on to become the long time Pend Oreille County Treasurer. Durand worked at the Forest Service office in Newport . Gary is genuinely excited about the different groups that are working with the family and offering services that will help maintain and encourage wise use of the land, and says “Our goal is to keep it as natural as possible and restore it to near pre-settlement conditions.”

Sheldon Magnuson is a forester and 22-year owner of Greentree Forestry.



<----previous article...Diggings Fall 2008...next article---->