Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The beautiful land we live in

by PAUL GRAVES / Contributing Writer
| September 23, 2023 1:00 AM

In the 35 years Sue and I have lived in Sandpoint, we have echoed the gratefulness of so many people for living in this beautiful part of America. Yet it’s so easy to take this beauty for granted, isn’t it. 
What we forget is how the forests and water we are surrounded by are both a magnificent, natural legacy of history, but also renewable resources we are responsible to nurture into the future.

September seems to be a great month for geezers-in-training to get acquainted with the beautiful land in which we live and play. So Sept. 12, we gathered at Pine Street Woods to learn from, and walk with, retired forester Bill Love.

Next Tuesday we will gather in the Community Room at Umpqua Bank to learn more about the land we live in. Our guest speaker will be Mike Lithgow, the Information and Outreach Coordinator and Policy Analyst for the Kalispel Tribe’s Natural Resources Department (KRND).

Mike will introduce us to the very critical work of caring for the land and water that nurtures us. He focuses his attention on the Kalispel Tribe’s passion for preserving and conserving the land.

Wanting to learn about more about the Kalispel’s environmental efforts, I simply Googled their website. I was introduced to a tribal history and some tenacious and impressive current-day efforts to responsibly manage the land we live in.

The traditional lands of the Kalispell Tribe and other tribes in the Inland Northwest cover land that begin in southern Canada and move southeast through what we now know as northeastern Washington and North Idaho into northwest Montana. For thousands of years, these “aboriginal homelands” (about 2.3 million acres) were lived in and cared for by Native American tribes.

A complicated and unjust history of with the U.S. federal government began in the mid-1850’s. The approximately 4,700-acre Kalispel Tribe Reservation was established by a 1914 Presidential Executive Order. Obviously, their passion for the land, legally and emotionally, crosses those borders. Now — still today — the efforts of Mike and his natural resources colleagues still focus their attention on conserving and restoring much of this vast area.

One of their restoration projects centers on what is called the “Sand Creek Corridor” in Sandpoint. Working in partnership with Kaniksu Land Trust (KLT), they hope a small portion of that designated corridor will be gifted to the Tribe to manage so they can retain its natural value and provide recreational access to canoers and kayakers.

Additionally, Kaniksu Land Trust has engaged Mike and the KNRD in working various sustainability projects at Pine Street Woods. I hope Mike will speak more specifically about how his work force (staff and volunteers together) are helping to manage Pine Street Woods in responsible ways.
I hope you will join us to learn more of what the Kalispel Tribe has been doing to preserve and protect the land they inhabited long before our current generations emigrated here. We gather next Tuesday 2:30-4 p.m. at the Community Room of the Umpqua Bank in Sandpoint.
I trust we will all leave the Geezer Forum more appreciative that we live in the land we call Bonner County.

Paul Graves, M.Div., is Lead Geezer-in-Training of Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or elderadvocates@nctv.com.

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