It’s not hard to find the natural beauty in northern Idaho, but the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® understands that it’s not necessarily easy for all members of the public to access the area’s phenomenal outdoor attractions. So, early in 2019, when the Kanisku Land Trust acquired 180 acres to be preserved as a community forest, the REALTORS® stepped up as partners in the creation of an ADA-compliant gathering place and trail that became an instant popular success.
The REALTORS® had worked closely with the Kaniksu Land Trust (KLT) in the past, so this was a natural collaboration, explains Stephanie Rief, Association Executive of the 338-member board. Over the years, the REALTORS® have helped the Trust with fundraising, while the Trust teaches the Conservation Easement segment of the association’s in-depth Water and Land Use course.
Once KLT acquired Pine Street Woods, as the mountain-side property near the town of Sandpoint is known, the REALTORS® wanted to make sure its benefits were accessible to everyone. “We have a diverse demographic here, and that includes a lot of active seniors and people with physical disabilities,” says Rief. “Despite our abundance of public lands, much of it is difficult to access, with steep trails requiring a high degree of mobility and fitness. So, supporting the construction of a trail and gathering place that’s accessible to all, regardless of fitness or ability, was a priority, especially given what we know about how a connection with nature benefits mental and physical health.”
Along the half-mile ADA-compliant loop, part of an extensive trail system throughout Pine Street Woods, are four handsome benches that the REALTORS® funded with a Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party. Commissioned from a local craftsman and made from locally harvested timber, each one bears a plaque engraved with the name of the Selkirk Association of REALTORS®. The benches were delivered and installed by REALTOR® volunteers.
“There’s been overwhelming community support for Pine Street Woods, and this trail in particular,” reports Rief, who notes that in addition to serving the mobility-impaired, the year-round trail is used by a local Nordic club and more than one cycling club. “Even snow-shoeing enthusiasts are enjoying the trail,” she adds. The association’s MLS board also contributed funding for doggie waste-stations on the trail, and the REALTORS® provide scholarship support for a popular week-long day camp at held at Pine Street Woods.
The REALTORS®’ ongoing association with the Kaniksu Land Trust and Pine Street Woods includes plans for an arboretum project that will identify many of the plant and tree species with special signage. Thanks to a subsequent Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party, they’ll be teaming up with a local cycling club to create a connecting trail between the Pine Street Woods and a trail system on the other side of the mountain: the REALTORS®’ support will fund a map kiosk, a bike rack, and another bench.
“Our members are so happy to be a part of these projects,” says Rief. “They know from their own lives how much these trails enhance the local lifestyle, and of course, that’s a big selling point here. The open space is what attracts folks to our area, so we do all we can to maintain it, improve it, and make it accessible. We’re so grateful for these grants that help us to do that.”
To learn more about how the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® is making it easier for all to enjoy the great outdoors in the Sandpoint, Idaho area, contact Association Executive Stephanie Rief at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208.265.2227.