How do you break down a multitude of barriers to outdoor access in the rural mountain West so people can connect with nature? The answer is simple: find a large parcel near town — and buy it. No matter what it takes.
This was the strategy that Kaniksu Land Trust in Idaho embraced nearly a decade ago when our small nonprofit with no capital campaign experience took on a $2.1 million fundraising effort to secure 180 acres for public recreation and education. Fast forward to today and, upon receipt of a national award recognizing the project's success, my colleagues and I are struggling to count all those who participated because there have been so many!
To be sure, any recognition for this project's success belongs to the community that made it happen. That includes a prestigious national award.
The Pine Street Woods project was recently selected in the Multiple-Use Management and Corridor Sharing category of the American Trails' Coalition for Recreational Trails Annual Achievement Awards. As the 2020 recipient, I spoke recently at a virtual awards ceremony and I'll travel next year to Washington, D.C. to receive the award in person.
As much as it excites me to have those events on the calendar, it excites me more to see the Coalition for Recreational Trails recognize all we accomplished with the Pine Street Woods project: helping the American public enjoy more outdoor recreation while boosting the local economy.
Moreover, we are incredibly proud of the fact that Pine Street Woods is for all users and all abilities. This award symbolizes what we — our land trust's four staff and so many more in our community — collectively worked so hard to realize for runners, cyclists, social walkers, cross country skiers and all outdoor enthusiasts.
Because at the end of the day, this award underscores that working shoulder-to-shoulder with community partners to create multi-use trails for all is simply the right thing to do.