The 100-acre recreation dream of a former Facebook engineer will live on thanks to an agreement with the City of Coeur d’Alene.
“This has been crazy and painful, but I think we’re in a really good place,” Jason Evans said. “This is compatible with our goals.”
In August 2018, Evans bought 100 acres of land on Canfield Mountain overlooking Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Rathdrum prairie. He intended to open it to hiking and mountain biking. It was, he said in a Spokesman-Review article, “a chance to do something that is unambiguously positive for society.”
His goal was jeopardized earlier this summer when neighbors filed a complaint with the county about increased traffic, noise and use of the trails. After some back and forth, the county issued Evans a notice of violation for operating a privately owned recreation facility without the proper permit.
At that point, Evans could have opted to get the permit, a complicated and somewhat costly process, or he could have taken all the welcome signs down and put up no trespassing signs, in addition to deleting his website, Cancourse.net.
Instead, he appealed the decision and spent much of the fall trying to fend off the complaint. Evans, who left Facebook in 2017, works as a freelance developer.
On Thursday, the Coeur d’Alene Parks and Recreation Department announced that it would lease the land from Evans and manage it as a city natural area. That appeased the county’s concerns, Evans said.
“We had been looking at that property for years and years,” Monte McCully, the trails coordinator for the City of Coeur d’Alene. “So it was a no-brainer for us we want that as a park.”
The agreement won’t be finalized for a month or two, he said. Most likely, the city will lease the land from Evans for a nominal fee, possibly as low as $1 a year. Combined with the nearby Canfield Mountain Natural Area, the entire natural area will be larger than Tubbs Hill.
The area will have operating hours (5 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and no fires or motorized vehicles will be allowed. Evans had already banned motorized vehicles from the land.
“In practice, it will have very little impact on the allowed use,” Evans said.
As for trail work, it’s ongoing. This summer, there were trail work parties nearly every month. Volunteers from the Lake City Trail Alliance, and others, removed some older, eroded trails, and planted trees and shrubs. They also built a new climbing trail with a gentler slope in addition to installing a few thousand feet of fence to keep motorized vehicles off.
Going forward the city, Evans and volunteers will work to design and build trails throughout the property, McCully said.
“The goal all along has been to preserve public access,” Evans said. “I think this is a really good fit.”
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