Paddlers anxious to dip their blades in water have a new trail to explore in northeastern Washington along the Pend Oreille River thanks in part to the National Park Service.
The 70-mile trail for kayakers, canoeists, motorboats, and even swimming, camping, and birdwatching, was developed with help from the Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program. That outfit worked with the Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance, Pend Oreille County, the Washington State University Extension Program, the Kalispel Tribe, and more than 20 other partners to create the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Plan.
The community’s vision for the water trail was adopted by surrounding towns, the Kalispel Tribe, and commissioners with Pend Oreille County and the Public Utility District last October. The plan contains ideas for uniform signs along the river, educational signs about safety, protecting wildlife, and respecting private property, and ideas for improving river access sites and creating new sites in the future.
Inspired by the river trail and community, local entrepreneurs helped high school youth launch a new kayak rental and shuttle business. The business, located at the headwaters of the water trail, allows anyone a chance to experience the river without having to purchase their own boat or worry about transportation.
Many partners contributed to the successful launch of the water trail. The water trail partnership is thrilled that the Kalispel Tribe’s Natural Resource Department has volunteered to take the lead in implementing some of the plan’s ideas. Other partners are contributing hands-on help and funding for signs, developing interpretive stories, access site improvements, and management of the trail.