News Archive

Trail Dispatches: Doggie Do’s

by Susan Drumheller

The dog days of summer have arrived and with them come the perpetual joys and challenges of socializing and training our beloved pets so they can coexist easily with others on the trails and in other public spaces.

The Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail is a favorite haunt for pups and people alike. This shoreline trail is an oasis where dogs and people can run free of leashes. But along with the intense use the trail has been getting this spring, come the complaints.

The most common is failure to pick up doggy doo-doos. Eclipsing the concern over fecal matter on the shoreline and on the trail (or those little plastic bags filled with dog turds that do not actually disappear without help) is the complaint of an overeager or even semi-aggressive dog that accosts a walker or a runner or another leashed, or better behaved, canine.

Numerous complaints have led the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail to remind all trail users that not everyone appreciates a dog barreling toward them, no matter whether it intends to lick or snap.

To drive home that message — and a couple others — the Friends of the Bay Trail will be installing signs with a few gentle reminders to keep your dog under control and to clean up after your furry companion.

Coincidentally, the city of Sandpoint is inviting residents to take a survey about dogs in parks. This was partly in response to a request that dogs be allowed at City Beach to provide a deterrent to the flocks of geese that pollute the shallow swimming area and the promenade with their own slimy droppings.

This is a fabulous idea, because the “official” trailhead of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail (“Bay Trail” for short, or — for you diehard locals out there — “Bum Jungle”) is actually at City Beach. The distance markers along the trail installed several months ago are measured from the point where the beachfront promenade in front of the Edgewater Resort meets the sidewalk that encircles City Beach.

You can see the Master Trail and Interpretive Plan on the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail website (pobtrail.org), which has a conceptual design for what that trailhead might look like. The city embraced the idea of a trailhead in its latest proposal for the makeover of City Beach, and that trailhead may also include some dedicated parking spaces for trail users.

However, dogs are well-established on the Bay Trail. That’s why it only makes sense that dogs are allowed — at least on leash — at City Beach, so that they and their owners can get to the shoreline trail and run free.

Once there, along the water’s edge and in the dappled sunlight of the forested trail, make sure your dog is under control at least by your voice, so that peace can prevail in our collective front yard.

So what would Emily Post say about dogs and people sharing the trail? After doing some research, here’s what the Friends found to be the most common dog etiquette guidelines;

• All dogs need to be under control at all times when using the trail. This means that if your dog is off leash, it should be under voice control. If this is not possible, keep your dog on a leash. Dogs should also be within sight at all times, and should not harass/chase wildlife or other dogs or people.

• Dogs should only approach other people and dogs after there has been communication with the other people. Do not let your dog run up to other people or dogs without asking first.

• Pick up after your dog. If you don’t have bags, grab a couple at the head of the trail, where they are provided for free and use them to help keep the Bay Trail beautiful and clean for all.

• If someone is trying to pass you and your dog, move yourself and your dog far enough off the trail that the other party can get by comfortably. This means bringing your dog close to you, perhaps holding it as others pass, and making sure that everyone is safe and comfortable while passing.

Susan Drumheller is president of Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, and secretary of Trail Mix, a local collaborative group of land managers, government entities, trail groups, and others with a stake in access, maintenance and expansion of trails in Bonner County. Trail Dispatches is an educational effort of Trail Mix.

Cleanup and Underpass Plans Move Ahead for Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail

Susan Drumheller
President, Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail

PONDERAY – As the seasons change along the Bay Trail, bringing snow, mud, flowers and golden leaves, stiff breezes and gentle sunshine, we also have our corresponding seasons for planning Bay Trail events and improvements.

Last spring and summer we had the BUILD grant application season. Unfortunately, the city’s application for a multi-million-dollar federal grant to build a railroad underpass to connect Ponderay citizens to the lakeshore fell short of the Secretary of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) desk.

This year, the BUILD grant season has arrived earlier than usual, with a mid-May deadline. Also new this year, Congress mandated that the U.S. DOT spend at least $15 million for “planning grants.” That means the city has the opportunity to apply for a grant to design, engineer and secure environmental permits for the underpass, before applying for the higher dollar construction expenses.

With that in mind, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail has secured the services of Sustainable Strategies, a Washington, D.C. consultant that specializes in helping communities secure big federal grants. Their expertise should help improve Ponderay’s chances this year.

Last fall was the local option sales tax campaign season. The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail encouraged the city of Ponderay to pursue the local option tax as a way to harness some of the retail dollars flowing into the city for recreation purposes.

The city was successful in winning the super-majority of votes necessary to pass the 1 percent sales tax, which will sunset after 5 years. In the interest of not hurting local businesses that sell big ticket items, the City Council made sure the local option tax only applies to sales less than $1,000. The city estimated bringing in $2 million per year from the local option tax, but it’s too soon to tell if that estimate is on target or not.

Those funds can be used to assist with the proposed underpass (a portion could be used as local match for the federal BUILD grant, for instance), and other expenses related to providing lake access to citizens, as well as for the proposed Field of Dreams sports complex on the northern Ponderay city limits.

Meanwhile, the Friends also worked with the city and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to land a federal Environmental Protection Agency grant application for planning and cleanup of the city’s shoreline property that’s contaminated with lead and other heavy metals from a historic smelting operation. The city was successful in securing the $800,000 Brownfields grant and planning for that project is underway.

The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail is a partner in the city’s public outreach and education efforts and we’ll be helping to develop videos and plan outreach events that help engage the public in the Brownfields cleanup, which has the potential to open up more shoreline for public use in the future.

While much of the funds that the Friends raise goes toward planning efforts such as these, we also are working on some improvements along the existing trail: constructing rock steps by the Humbird Mill ruins, to help people get to the lake bed safely in the winter and in the summer provide a landing for kayaks and swimmers. We are working with a contractor now, the city, the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the project permitted and designed.

This spring we’ll also be felling dangerous trees and cleaning up the trail prior to the 8th Annual Bay Trail Fun Run, the Friends’ primary fundraising event. The family 5K and 10K professionally timed run will be held on Sunday, June 7. Registration is currently open for the run, and all participants are entered into a raffle for a pair of Brooks running shoes (two prizes awarded), courtesy of Outdoor Experience. Go to www.pobtrail.org for details and to register.

As you can see, nearly every season is Bay Trail season!

March 2019 Bay Trail Update

Bay Trail Ambitions Alive and Well
By Susan Drumheller

PONDERAY – Like a leisurely stroll along Lake Pend Oreille, progress on a Bay Trail connection to Ponderay may seem sometimes slow, and the destination far away, but the journey continues with purpose and appreciation for how far we’ve already come.

This past year has been a busy one for Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and the City of Ponderay. The Friends, which is a non-profit organization supported by community donations and grants, hired Panhandle Area Council to assist the city with two federal grant applications for needed funds that would help finance a railroad underpass from the shoreline to downtown Ponderay and also to cleanup Black Rock, a local landmark that’s contaminated with historic mine waste.

Ponderay is a small city with a very limited budget. Despite the presence of major retail businesses in the town, only a tiny fraction of sales taxes come back to the city because of the state’s revenue sharing formula. Without large federal grants or other major funding sources, it will not be possible for the city to construct an underpass or cleanup the hazardous materials present on the shoreline.

The first grant application was to the highly competitive BUILD program under the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). The city requested funds for planning, design and engineering for a pedestrian underpass – large enough for emergency and maintenance vehicles – under the railroad tracks on property the city owns behind the Hoot Owl Restaurant.

The grant awards were announced in December, however, Ponderay was not among the recipients. The good news was that our project was ranked as “highly recommended” by the first tier of review – the DOT’s technical feasibility committee – and may have been the only planning project with such a high ranking, according to a DOT employee who debriefed the city and Friends in January. 

The application did not make it to the next level only because it was not for construction, and the Trump Administration chose to prioritize on-the-ground work. But the good news is, this administration is prioritizing rural projects, so our reviewer encouraged the city to try again. So, the city and the Friends are currently focused on steps necessary to clear the next hurdle, “project readiness,” and apply again, but this time for a construction grant.

A few hundred yards east of the proposed underpass along the shoreline trail is the metal gate, where the trail dead-ends. Some of that property beyond the gate is owned by the City of Ponderay and some is private. As a sign hanging on that gate explains, Black Rock and the surrounding area is contaminated by lead and other heavy metals from a historic smelter that operated briefly more than 100 years ago. In fact, Black Rock itself is not a natural formation, but actually a slag heap from those operations.

In January, the city applied for a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the property and make it safer for people to visit. We are still awaiting news on that grant, and if it’s successful, the hope is to eventually extend the trail further along the shoreline.

In the short term, this spring the Friends is organizing it’s Seventh Annual Bay Trail Fun Run. This is the Friends’ signature fundraising event, which not only supports our non-profit operations and pays for things like feasibility studies, but it also brings runners and walkers together to enjoy this spectacular trail. The Fun Run is scheduled for Sunday, June 9, and registration information will be on our website soon at https://pobtrail.org/events/.

Also this year, we have plans near the Sandpoint trailhead to construct rock steps from the Humbird ruins through the jagged rip rap rock to the lakebed. In winter time, when the lake is drawn down, these steps will provide a safe way down to the sandy lake bottom. In summer, they’ll be a landing for swimmers and kayakers to get in and out of the water.

Rock steps are among several proposed trail amenities that are contained in the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Master Trail and Interpretive Plan, which can also be accessed at our website,.https://pobtrail.org/links/

Donations can be made online to the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, and those funds are being used to make small improvements along the trail and leverage larger grants for more ambitious improvements that will enhance the quality of life for people in Bonner County.

 

Susan Drumheller is President of the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

 

2018 Trail Update

On a decent day, about a couple hundred people use the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. They jog, walk their dogs, stroll with children, take photos by the old Humbird Mill ruins, or power walk purposefully out and back from the Sandpoint trailhead.

Since 2011, when the City of Sandpoint authorized the purchase of the first waterfront parcel from the Hall Family, the 1.5-mile trail has been open to the public. The shoreline trail has become a favorite get-away for residents, workers downtown and even out-of-town visitors.

The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail hosts an annual Bay Trail Fun Run to raise money for maintenance and improvements along the trail, and a growing nest egg to finance future trail improvements. Proposed improvements are outlined in the Master Trail and Interpretive Plan, and include projects such as increasing trailhead parking and installing steps in the rip rapped banks to make it easier and safer to access the water.

One top priority is to connect the trail to Ponderay and Kootenai with a railroad underpass in Ponderay. It’s an ambitious and expensive project, but necessary due to the high incidence of trespass across railroad property by people who are trying to get to Lake Pend Oreille.

The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail has been working with the city and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to gather information necessary to apply for federal funding, including engineering studies, cost-benefit analyses and environmental documents.  

Recently, with funding from the LOR Foundation, the Friends hired Panhandle Area Council, an economic development organization serving the communities of North Idaho, to assist with the federal grant process. The ideal funding source is the federal highway’s TIGER program, but the future of the grant program is uncertain under the Trump Administration.

In preparation for a future underpass, the City of Ponderay purchased property along U.S. Highway 200, near the Hoot Owl Restaurant. The city and the Friends hosted a community celebration at the property last fall, to help build a sense of community and to raise awareness about the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and other community projects in Ponderay.

Ponderay Neighbor Day was generously supported by the LOR Foundation, the SPOT Bus, P1FCU, Schweitzer, Kaniksu Land Trust, Kootenai-Ponderay Sewer District, Keokee Publishing, Montana Shed Center, Cygnus, Northwest Autobody, Sandpoint Furniture/Carpet One, Waste Management, Ace Septic Tank Service, Columbia Bank, Idaho Forest Group, Pend Oreille Veterinary Clinic and many other businesses and individuals.

An estimated 500 people attended the family-friendly event, and the Ponderay City Council plans to host a second Ponderay Neighbor Day – with the help of the Friends and local businesses – this fall.

Other upcoming events that support the Pend d’Oreille Bay trail include an Earth Day Work Party on April 29 and the annual Bay Trail Fun Run – a 5K and 10K timed run/walk – on June 10. Check the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Facebook Page, or check back here on our website at www.pobtrail.org for more information.

Ponderay Neighbor Day featured lots of kids activities and even a celebrity or two.

Ponderay Neighbor Day featured lots of kids activities.

 

TIGER Grant Program – and Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail – At Risk

For the last two years, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and the City of Ponderay have been preparing to apply for a federal TIGER grant to help fund a much-needed underpass for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. Without an underpass under the railroad tracks, citizens of Ponderay and Kootenai have no access from their communities to the lakeshore and the trail. As a result, people typically trespass across the busy Montana Rail Link/ BNSF tracks to get to the lake from Ponderay or Kootenai.

Railroad underpasses are extremely expensive, and a federal grant is one of the only ways that Ponderay can afford to build one. The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and Idaho DEQ have spent thousands of dollars on studies to help support this grant application, while the city of Ponderay has purchased property in the vicinity of the proposed underpass. We are nearly ready to apply.

However, the Trump Administration’s recent budget proposal calls for eliminating the popular TIGER grant program, essentially killing our project if Trump’s budget is adopted.

Please help us convince Congress to continue to fund TIGER.

BACKGROUND on TIGER:

The very popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grant program has funded more than 420 multi-modal infrastructure projects across the country – including all 50 states, both in rural and urban areas since 2009. The program spent more than $5 billion and leveraged billions of dollars to accelerate key projects that drive local, regional and state economic development. These projects aren’t eligible for funding under traditional federal highway or state funding programs.

The Trump administration has suggested that local communities turn to other programs to fund their projects, but those programs are not designed to meet the same needs as TIGER, which funds multi-modal projects, including trails. Projects that have been funded through the rural TIGER program in our region include a $10 million grant to Kalispell, MT, to relocate railroad tracks from downtown and replace them with a linear park and trail. In 2013, Missoula County landed a $4.5 million TIGER grant to build the Missoula to Lolo bike path. In Idaho, TIGER has funded complete streets in American Falls and Hailey, a transit center in Moscow and U.S. Highway 95 improvements.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

The budget proposal now goes to Congress and so we can still save TIGER.

Comment onlineTell Congress to fund TIGER.

Write a letter to our Congressional Delegation. If you only want to send one letter, send it to Sens. Jim Risch or Mike Crapo. Here are their addresses:

  • Mike Crapo – 610 Hubbard St., Ste. 209 Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814
  • Jim Risch – 610 Hubbard St., Ste. 213, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
  • Raul Labrador – 1250 Ironwood Dr., #241, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814

Or you can send an email  by going to the Senator’s website or using the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s online Take Action. 

TALKING POINTS:

Here are a few points to consider including in your letter/email:

  • First and foremost, ask them to fund TIGER. TIGER is an important transportation infrastructure funding source for local communities;
  • TIGER is very competitive with each project competing on its merits. As a result, the monies are spent very efficiently;
  • TIGER encourages local investment and has brought 3.5 other dollars to the table for every federal dollar awarded;
  • TIGER supports locally driven economic development opportunities. This is the kind of infrastructure program that improves the local economy and is sustainable over time;
  • There are virtually no other federal funding programs to fill the void for TIGER;
  • The TIGER program has provisions for rural areas, so communities in Idaho don’t have to compete with large urban areas for funding, but with other rural areas;
  • Mention the projects in Idaho that have been funded through TIGER;
  • Talk about the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and the need for an underpass to allow safe access to Lake Pend Oreille. Eliminating TIGER will likely put a halt to plans to one day provide access from Ponderay and Kootenai to the lake and the trail.

Master Trail Plan Finalized

After about a year of working with hired consultants, the Master Trail Plan for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail has been finalized.

Check it out here!

This plan will help guide future improvements to the trail that could include interpretive kiosks that would help tell the cultural, historic and ecological stories about the trail, as well new amenities on the trail, signage and expansions to the trail. These plans also help determine the costs for any improvements and help raise funds for those improvements. Thanks to consultants Jen Zung and Randy Blough at Harmony Engineering and Design for all their hard work and thanks to all the individuals that gave their input.

 

Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Update, Winter/Spring 2015

Now that Phase 1 (the purchase of the Hall waterfront property) is complete, people keep asking us – what’s next? Does this mean the gate is coming down at the end of the trail?
The answer to the second question is, not yet.

The Hall family property stopped short of the gate. Beyond the gate is private property and Black Rock, which is also private and heavily contaminated with heavy metals. The fact that the property beyond the gate is private, and that Black Rock is officially a Brownfield site that needs remediation, means that trail users need to turn around at the gate.

But here’s a few things that are happening now to help determine the future of the trail:

  • Master Trail and Interpretive Plan: We were fortunate to secure funding to hire a consultant to put together a Master Trail Plan and an Interpretive Plan for the trail. These plans will help guide any future improvements to the trail, including signage, amenities and how to tell our natural and cultural history stories along this linear outdoor classroom. The plans will also help raise funds for those improvements. The planning began in the fall of 2014, and this spring we’ll see the initial proposed designs and plans from Harmony Engineering and Design and interpretive planner, Jane Rohling. Our Ales and Trails event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at Laughing Dog Brewery, will give folks an opportunity to weigh in on the designs for the trail.
  • Brownfields cleanup: The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is working with the city of Ponderay and the Black Rock property owner to enroll contaminated properties in the state’s voluntary cleanup program. Once the properties are enrolled in the program, cleanup alternatives will be determined and funding secured to remove the contaminated materials from the site, or to safely contain those materials in an onsite repository.ponderay greenway and pathway plan
  • Lakeside Neighborhood Plan: The city of Ponderay secured funds to hire StreetPlans, a consulting firm, to come up with a “subarea” plan for the lakeshore and upland neighborhood in the vicinity of a possible underpass, or crossings, that would allow access from Ponderay to the lake and the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. The plans are conceptual in nature, but will guide a specific zoning code that allows for a certain type of development in that area. City Planner Erik Brubaker is trying to develop a plan that would allow for a gradual, organic development to occur, with multiple property owners, over time that would blend with the city’s existing neighborhoods.
  • Underpass planning: We are working with the City of Ponderay, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Trust for Public Land and URS/AECOM, an international engineering firm, to get a technical feasibility study conducted for two potential underpass/overpass locations for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. It is our hope that this feasibility study will help secure the support of the railroad and future funding for an underpass.

So, as you can see, while it may seem to be a quiet time for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, much is happening to eventually connect this trail to Ponderay and to enhance the experience of users of the trail. We will continue to need the financial support of the community to keep these efforts moving forward.

Our primary fundraiser is the annual Bay Trail Fun Run which takes place on June 7 this year.

Please consider either participating as a sponsor, a runner or a volunteer!

You can also give your input by completing this quick and easy survey! It’s actually very interesting with lots of wonderful archival photos and new design illustrations. Give us a hand and complete the survey before May 1!

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