Successes need to be celebrated, recognized

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A lot has happened since my last post. I’d like to first share with you some great successes that really need to be recognized and celebrated.

First, the incredible work that has been done to develop access to natural areas for recreation, connectivity and education is truly monumental. 2018 marks the centennial of the Little Sand Creek Watershed. It amazes me that Sandpoint City Council had the foresight, wisdom and resolve to invest in protecting the city’s primary water source way back in 1918. In 100 years the City has secured roughly 4000 acres. In 2014, the city partnered with Pend Orielle Pedalers, Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Selkirk Recreation District to build the Watershed Crest Trail which is envisioned as a crestline trail, with expansive views in all directions as it wraps around the entire watershed. Last week I, along with 16 other eager trail builders, spent a gorgeous Saturday carving out another quarter mile as construction now enters phase two of a project that will likely take several more years to complete. It now extends out Uleda Ridge a mile and a half, offering breathtaking views from Lake Pend Orielle to Priest Lake. Built with the steadfast support of Equinox Foundation, LOR Foundation and teams of volunteers, it promises to put Sandpoint on the map for the best in hiking and biking and all varieties of non-motorized touring. The trail aspires to include nordic skiers in later phases as linkages to lower elevations and lesser gradients are developed. You can show your support for the project by becoming a member of the Pend Oreille Pedalers (pendoreillepedalers.org) or just showing up to the next work party as it is posted on their Facebook page.

Another monumental win is the completion of phase 1 fundraising for the Pine Street Woods project. Kaniksu Land Trust has succeeded in raising an incredible $2.1 million in just two years through tremendous broad based local support and a number of key philanthropic partners, including Equinox Foundation, Innovia, LOR Foundation, US Forest Service, ID Department of Parks and Recreation, ID Forest Group, Middle Fork River Expeditions, and many others. This is enough to purchase the property and devote significant funds toward trail construction. Phase 2 of fundraising now begins with the goal of building an educational pavilion to support Kaniksu’s programming which enables kids to learn the value of the natural world. The Land Trust has attracted the interest of the International Timberframer’s Guild to partner with a local army of volunteers and build the pavilion. Come to the Squatchfest fundraiser on Oct. 6 from 4-7 p.m. at the Granary to learn more and get involved.

Also worthy of celebration is the launch of the first municipal mobile app in Idaho and the Inland Northwest. The app, Engage Sandpoint, is available for Android or iPhone and can be downloaded through the app store. Powered by SeeClickFix, it enables users a whole new way to engage the city. You can pay utility bills, parking tickets, sign up for a rec program, report a safety issue, register your bike, view the city GIS map or the City Council agenda and use many other features right in the palm of your hand. It has never been easier to engage your local government. Download the app to see how powerful and user friendly it is.

I’m sure many of you have heard that scoping for the proposed Silicon Smelter in Newport, Wash., has recently begun. For those who haven’t been able to attend one of the hearings over the last couple weeks, you still have time to submit written comments to Washington Department of Ecology until Oct. 26. You can find out more information, including how to provide comment by going here: https://ecology.wa.gov/Events/AQ/PacWest-Silicon-EIS-Scoping/PacWest-Silicon-Newport-comment-period-closes-Oct

I, along with City Council, will be providing scoping comments at the next City Council meeting. It is critical that we speak out on this issue. The proposed smelter will not only significantly impact our air quality, it will effect water quality and our identity as a community which fosters an incredibly high quality of life. Quality of life underpins our economy, attracting quality employers in technology and a workforce that sustains our economic health. This proposed project offers a few jobs across the border at the expense of our community’s economic health across every sector, from tourism to technology. Please contact your county commissioners, your state elected officials and your governor to let them know how important this issue is to you and your health.

Mayor’s Roundtable continues this Friday, Sept. 28, from 8-9 a.m. at City Beach Bistro. Please join me to discuss these issues and more.

Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at mayor@sandpointidaho.gov.

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