It has been more than a year since proponents of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail began organizing workshops, holding meetings and seeking public input, and now they are ready to unveil their plan.
A public trail corridor that will be built along the northwest shore of Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail conceptual plan is a response by many in the community to the continued growth of Sandpoint and its surrounding communities. The group’s goal is to preserve public access to what is one of the area’s most precious features – Lake Pend Oreille – and to provide a beautiful setting where people can hike.
“This plan reflects the community’s desire to improve lake access and provides some guidance on how to get there,” said Ponderay Mayor Carol Kunzeman. “This document will help our city to attract the resources needed to make the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail a reality.”
On Thursday, Kunzeman will serve as the master of ceremonies for the unveiling of the 43-page plan. City officials as well as representatives from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the National Park Service, Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and Idaho Conservation League will be available to answer questions regarding the plan, discuss the environmental assessment of the proposed trail, and show maps of what areas will specifically be involved in the construction of the trail.
The proposed trail corridor is approximately 2 miles long and would extend from Sandpoint City Beach to the eastern gateway for the city of Kootenai. It will include waterfront access and will also provide a nonmotorized trail linking the neighboring towns of Kootenai, Ponderay and Sandpoint.
Earlier Thursday there will be an opportunity to walk the trail with representatives from various organizations including Steve Gill of DEQ, Alex Stone of the National Park Service and Jan Griffitts of the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. A second walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, and will be led by Griffitts and Susan Drumheller, the North Idaho associate for the Idaho Conservation League. This walk includes a shoreline cleanup at Black Rock; people are encouraged to bring gloves to assist in the cleanup.
Funding for these initial steps in creating the conceptual plan came from a technical assistance grant awarded to the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program. According to Drumheller, the money was used to help engage the public and stakeholders in the creation of the concept plan.
Over the last year, the group has worked closely with the cities of Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai, and Bonner County and the DEQ, which are coalition partners in a federal Brownfields grant funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The purpose of that grant is to evaluate the extent of contamination from industrial activities in the trail corridor and plan for its cleanup.
And while the Ponderay, Kootenai and Sandpoint city councils as well as the Bonner County commissioners have all passed resolutions endorsing the conceptual plan, there is still work to be done before the trail can become a reality.
Drumheller said a key component to implementation will be to draft agreements among the local jurisdictions and private property owners to acquire easements or property in the corridor for public access.
But according to Kunzeman, the time is right for implementation of the plan.
“We have the desire, we’re building momentum, and now we have a roadmap,” Kunzeman said.