Trail group gets grant

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SANDPOINT — The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail have earned another big grant, bring the group well past the halfway point of its $400,000 goal.

A $75,000 grant from the Cloudsledge Conservation Trust, a private family foundation based in Hope, places the nonprofit’s coffers at $245,000, a comfortable amount of progress given the expected deadline of late 2014. Even more impressive is the fact that Cloudsledge Conservation Trust’s mission statement identifies the protection of Cloudsledge Forest as its primary goal, reinforcing the value of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

“We were thrilled to get this grant,” said Jon Sayler, board president of the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. “This is a wonderful deal that Cloudsledge would alter their mission somewhat for us.”

The Cloudsledge Conservation Trust grant comes on the heels of a $30,000 grant from the Confidence Foundation, another private family trust based out of Pasedena, Calif., earned at the beginning of July. In addition, a $75,000 match-funding grant from the Equinox Foundation secured earlier this year caps off the biggest contributions.

With those grants set against the smaller contributions earned so far, Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail officials said they are pleased with their progress so far. Their original goal was to have half of the $400,000 in place by the end of the year, so members are definitely making good time.

“This is huge,” group spokesperson Susan Drumheller said. “We’re definitely further along than we thought we would be.”

Once the full $400,000 is raised, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail plan to buy the fourth parcel of the waterfront property and donate it for public use. Last year, the city of Sandpoint got the ball rolling by buying the first parcel. According to the established plan, Sandpoint is slated to buy the second parcel this year, while Ponderay will take on the third portion in 2013. It all adds up to about a mile of waterfront property that will be preserved for the public.

However, many residents have expressed concerns that recent difficulties with shortfalls in the local budgeting process might impact the viability of those purchases. When Sandpoint council members approved the city’s preliminary budget, they left a spot open for the purchase but offered no guarantee it would happen. Even so, supporters of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail are encouraged by that fact.

“We’re definitely excited that the city has included funding in the preliminary budget for parks,” Drumheller said.

However, to avoid laying off city employees for the sake of a property purchase, council members determined to only use impact fees and other funding sources only allowed to be used for capital improvements. The full details of their decision on the second Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail won’t be determined until later this year.

As for the city of Ponderay, it has the advantage of a little more time. Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail are collaborating with the city staff to identify potential funding sources at its disposal.

“We’ll keep working hard in that direction, and hopefully, we’ll have a better idea of the situation next year,” Drumheller said.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of ways to help out the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail on an individual basis. Upcoming events that will benefit the trail include “Concerts for a Cause” starring Thom Shepherd, which will occur 5 p.m. Aug. 25 at Ponderay Garden Center.

From Aug. 24-29, the Arts Alliance, Redtail Gallery and the Idaho Conservation League invite local artists to create paintings from the trail. A reception at 5:30-8:30 p.m. Redtail Gallery reception on Aug. 31 will kick off a showcase of the works until Sept. 15. Proceeds from the event will benefit the trail. To participate, call the Arts Alliance at 265-2787.

Finally, the 5 p.m. Sept. 7 Firkin Friday at Laughing Dog Brewery will include live music and a silent auction to benefit the trail.

Of course, straight donations work perfectly well, too. Contact the Friends at 946-7586 to place a contribution or ask about ways to get involved.

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