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Two Bear Air headlines Idaho Trails gathering for volunteers near Sandpoint

Two Bear Air is a free regional helicopter rescue service based in Whitefish, Montana. (Courtesy)
Two Bear Air is a free regional helicopter rescue service based in Whitefish, Montana. (Courtesy)

RESCUE – Two Bear Air, the Whitefish-based free helicopter rescue service that’s saved a lot of grief, and some lives among the region’s outdoorsmen, will put on a demonstration for an Idaho Trails Association gathering May 13 in Sagle, Idaho.

ITA is organizing a thank-you party for volunteers who have helped or are interested in helping with its trail improvement projects in the Panhandle, said co-organizer Tom Dabrowski. He noted that last year, 222 volunteers logged 3,796 hours working trails throughout the state.

The public is invited to the first part of the gathering to learn information about search and rescue that could be important to them when they're out hiking, he said.

Other presentations will include bear safety, special trail tools, new hiking gear and a talk by Priest Lake Search and Rescue on what to do if you need to be rescued while hiking or camping.

Presentations start at 2 p.m. at 877 Heath Lake Rd. in Sagle.

“People who sign up ahead of time can purchase dinner for $15 and stay for the rest of the program to learn more about ITA and how we can all help to keep our hiking trails open,” Dabrowski said.

Sign up for the Northern Idaho Appreciation Party on the ITA website,

Nine ITA trail projects are scheduled this year. The next one is May 20 on the Mickinnick Trail near Sandpoint. 


Following are more details about ITA followed by the full season schedule for trail projects:

The ITA was founded in 2010 to help maintain hiking trails in Idaho. One of the areas where ITA is growing fastest is here in northern Idaho and this success is due to our members and volunteers.

Topics to be covered at the May 13 gathering include:

  • What to do if you need to be rescued while hiking or camping. Experts from the Priest Lake Search and Rescue (PLSAR) organization will talk about how to prepare, how to contact Search and Rescue, and what to do until they arrive. PLSAR provides the search and rescue service for the Bonner County Sheriff’s department and has been saving lives here since 2001.
  • How helicopters are used in rescue operations. The highly regarded Two Bear Air organization will fly to and land at our meeting in their Bell 429 helicopter. Their crew members will show and tell us about their incredible machine and the service they provide. Two Bear Air has an amazing record of successful rescues in Idaho and Montana since they started flying in 2013.
  • What to do to avoid and how to react to encounters with bears and other wild animals. The presenter will give us the latest advice and then demonstrate the use of bear spray.

After these presentations, everyone will have a chance to visit with the experts, try the cross cut and other saws ITA uses on field projects, and look at some of the latest and best gear for hiking and backpacking.

Then the discussion will turn to the projects planned for 2017 and how to volunteer to help.

2017 ITA Projects in North Idaho


APRIL 22 – English Point Trail #80: a lower elevation trail system that includes easy loops thru forest terrain on the west side of Hayden Lake. We will be doing maintenance work to help open this popular 6 mile long trail system early in the 2017 hiking season. Difficulty rating #1.


MAY 13 – Volunteer Appreciation Party: The ITA will host a volunteer appreciation party for the folks who worked on a trail project last year. We’ll also have training on bear safety and rescue services if an accident happens while you’re hiking.

MAY 20 – Mickinnick Trail: a 3.5 mile long, locally built hiking trail that gains 2,200’ to reach a beautiful viewpoint far above the City of Sandpoint. This sometimes steep path is very popular with local and visiting hikers. Difficulty #2.

JUNE 2, 3, and 4 – ITA Crew Leader College: Three days of training and practice in use of cross cut saws and other tools to safely clear and repair hiking trails. After a day of “classroom” training, these future Crew Leaders will practice on local hiking trails that are badly in need of work.

JUNE 17 – Chimney Rock Trail #256: a beautiful 6 mile hiking trail that leads from the upper Pack River to the foot of iconic Chimney Rock on the crest of the Selkirk Mountains. This project will involve clearing lots of Alder brush from the old trail. Difficulty #2.

JULY 23 thru 28 – Divide Lake Area: Six days in northern Idaho’s Cabinet Mountains working on trails near Divide Lake. Hike in 6 miles with your camping gear to a beautiful alpine campsite. Food and a cook will be packed in and provided by the US Forest Service. Difficulty #3.

JULY 29 – Pulaski Tunnel Interpretive Trail: this popular hiking trail leads to the tunnel where Ranger Ed Pulaski and his crew found shelter as the 1910 forest fire that burned much of northern Idaho came right over them. The trail starts just south of the historic town of Wallace, ID. Difficulty #1.

SEPTEMBER 9 and 10 – Moose Lake Trail #237: after the Forest Service installs a new bridge over a creek that crosses the popular Moose Lake trail, ITA volunteers will install kick rails and finish approach work on the bridge. Difficulty #2.

SEPTEMBER 16 – Boulder Meadows Trail: ITA’s second year on this popular trail that provides access to beautiful alpine country high in the Cabinet Mountains in the Bonners Ferry Ranger District. Difficulty #2.

To sign up for a project, please go to the ITA website,,and click on “projects” on the top line. Click on the interactive map to see the location, then scroll down to the project you are interested in and press the sign up button.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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