Bird’s Eye View

October 6, 2023

By Carol Corbin, Conservancy staff

Lake Pend Oreille, home of several conservation agreements held by your Conservancy.

Where is the Inland Northwest? It’s an insider term and I’d hazard a guess that those from outside this region wouldn’t know what you were talking about. But that’s ok. We know what we have here. Mountains, forests, prairies, crags, rivers, lakes, and all four seasons. This is why I live here. I can do all the things I love within 15 minutes of my front door!

But as much as I love our “service territory,” centered in Spokane and Kootenai Counties, I’ve never really been able to envision what it looks like. Yes, there are maps. But my brain has never been able to connect maps to what I see on the ground.

This week, though, I had the chance to experience the Inland Northwest from the air. Our generous partners at LightHawk, an organization whose mission is to accelerate conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight, took our Conservation Director, Mike Crabtree, Megan Kennedy from Rogue Heart Media, and me on a flight over this beautiful place we call home.

The Coeur d’Alene River hosts several lands under legal agreement to support the Restoration Partnership, working to clean up legacy mining waste.

Taking off from Felts Field, we flew over the Spokane River, the Little Spokane, Mt. Spokane, Priest Lake, Lake Pend Oreille, the Coeur d’Alene River and Lake, Mica Peak, and Newman Lake. We saw verdant, green riparian areas, flowing water, and healthy wetlands. We saw stands of trees teetering on the edge of autumn with hints of red and gold. We saw the impacts of wildfire and clearcutting. We saw boundaries of development pushing against green spaces, and bustling communities ripe for growth.

From left to right: LightHawk Pilot Rick Durden, INLC Conservation Director, Mike Crabtree, Philanthropy Director, Carol Corbin, Rogue Heart Media owner and videographer, Megan Kennedy

And I saw in full relief the reason I continue to call the Inland Northwest “home,” after 18 years. It is an honor, a privilege, and an immense responsibility to act as a local land trust–working every day to protect the most important natural spaces in our community. But the bird’s eye view reminds me that it’s worth every minute.

This work takes a community, and you’re part of that! Our team of nine can only do so much, and the support of people like you makes all the difference in the permanent protection of local lands and waters. If you’re wondering this year whether or not your gift makes a difference, I assure you it does. The shores of Lake Pend Oreille, the oxbows of the Coeur d’Alene River, the cougar and elk on the shores of the Little Spokane . . . none of them can speak for themselves. Your support of our work gives them a voice and makes them matter. It means we can keep working on their behalf, to protect them. Forever.