In north Idaho and northwest Montana, our communities are more than the places we work. The landscape represents our playgrounds and livelihoods, and brings deeper meaning to our lives. By inspiring more people to value and protect the natural world, we can lay the foundation for future conservation of our shared natural heritage.
Kaniksu Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that promotes healthy lands and healthy communities with the understanding that the two are inextricably linked. We facilitate voluntary land conservation by working with landowners to keep important lands intact. We also engage our community with land in order to overcome challenges related to health and education, and to encourage an ethic of long-term stewardship
To date we have completed 26 conservation projects, protecting over 3,600 acres of land. From the beautiful Bull River Valley to the shores of Morton Slough and the Pack River, this work is critical to preserving our area’s natural landscapes and resources that contribute to economic security and quality of life. KLT’s conservation programs have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts.
We currently have four professional staff and an active Board of Directors, and we were recognized as an accredited land trust in February of 2016. KLT is one of just 411 accredited land trusts out of approximately 1,300 land trusts operating in the United States.
Kaniksu Land Trust has adopted the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices to ensure that professional and ethical policies and procedures are applied to all KLT transactions and operations. KLT has gone through a rigorous independent organizational assessment to ensure that our processes and policies adhere to the highest standards for excellence. To learn more about accredition and what it means for KLT, click here.
The organization was originally founded in 2002 as the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy with the purpose of supporting the land conservation needs of Avista Corporation’s protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures which are required under the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement. Signed by 27 public and private entities, the Settlement Agreement became part of Avista’s federal license to operate the dams at Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.
During KLT’s formative years, conservation was primarily driven by projects that had high value for fish habitat, specifically for the threatened bull trout. Early conservation easements protected properties with frontage along the Bull River, Prospect Creek, Pack River and Twin Creek. KLT partners closely with Avista’s Natural Resources Department; Idaho Department of Fish & Game; and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for the protection of habitat for various species including waterfowl, moose and the threatened bull trout.
In 2009, KLT expanded its focus to include the protection of forest and ranch lands. With the closing of the Gold Creek Ranch conservation easement in the Selle Valley, approximately 640 acres of forest and working ranch lands were preserved forever. Another 600 acres of historic forest and ranch land abutting the Morton Slough Wildlife Refuge on the Pend Oreille River were permanently protected in 2011.
In the summer of 2012, the land trust changed its name and re-branded itself as Kaniksu Land Trust in order to better reflect its regional land and water conservation mission and to provide an identity recognizable to its constituents. This new chapter also focused on organizational development, community outreach and the development of a fundraising program to establish a sustainable funding base for the organization into the future.
Also beginning in 2012, KLT began to concentrate on creating public access lands and recreation opportunities in addition to its more traditional priorities. The public benefits directly from the Sherwood Forest / Syringa Trails conservation easement which provides access to hiking and biking trails convenient to downtown Sandpoint. Since conservation easements do not guarantee that a property will stay open to the public, it is important for visitors to treat the areas with respect in order to retain the privilege of using them.
While KLT has recently been focusing on organizational development and community outreach, its expanded mission remains the same: KLT is committed to supporting the vibrant communities of north Idaho and northwest Montana, and preserving the lands and waters that sustain them.