Throwback Thirty

March 10, 2021

This Spokesman Review article from September 1991 speaks to the vision of our founders and the importance of protecting this region’s special places in perpetuity. Thirty years later, we are grateful for that vision as we celebrate more than 22,000 acres protected, including three public preserves and 125 miles of waterways in the Inland Northwest.

New group aims to save fragile habitats

Spokane-area residents plan to put land in trust
By Julie Titone, Staff Writer

A new local conservation group is focusing its attention on wetlands and rare ecosystems in eight counties of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The first project for the Inland Northwest Land Trust may involve helping complete the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River, said attorney Randall Gaylord, secretary for the group.

“I can’t be more specific than that, but it concerns the Barker Road property,” he said. “We’re also exploring an opportunity with a landowner in Stevens County involving a meadow habitat.”

The trust was formed in March by Spokane-area residents who believe that the natural bounty of the land should be saved for future generations, according to president Bob Richardson.

“Although there are nearly 22 land trusts in Washington state, only The Nature Conservancy, a national organization, is actively preserving Washington land east of the Wenatchee area,” Richardson said.

Land trusts acquire properties through gifts and purchases. They also protect land through conservation easements, leases agreements, exchanges and cooperative ventures. Fundings come from individuals, foundations and corporations.

There are 800 land trusts in the United States.

“Most land trusts get started when someone wants to buy a piece of land,” said Gaylord. “We took the other approach, saying we want to get all of the red tape and organizational things done and be ready when an opportunity arises.”

The trust will look for properties to protect in Spokane, Stevens, Lincoln, Adams, and Whitman counties in Washington; and Kootenai and Bonner counties in Idaho. Those counties were chosen because they are close enough to Spokane to be monitored effectively, Gaylord said.

The idea for a local land trust was brewed over cups of coffee by people who wanted a non-controversial way to protect the environment, Gaylord said.

He described Richardson as an engineer “with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm for this project.” The other volunteer board members are Debra Schultz*, a teacher; Thomas Richardson, a Cheney city planner; Betsy Coombs, an activist with The Nature Conservancy; Sam Angrove, Spokane County parks director; Fred Dayharsh, a Spokane city planner; Doug Pineo, a Department of Ecology staffer; Jeffrey Maichel, a financial officer; David Slack, a transmission line engineer; and William Steele, a geology professor.

*Debra Schultz has rejoined the Conservancy board in 2021 to continue her work in the protection of local lands and waters.