Local Treasures with Pia: INW Land Conservancy

Spokane, Washington – Together with an army of volunteers, the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy takes care of 125 miles of waterways and shorelines and protects more than 22,000 acres of land. Some of this property is wild and some is farm land, or large chunks of private property that’s been given in trust to the conservancy.

The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy – which is a recent Avista Foundation grant recipient – also operates three public preservation areas, a task that comes with a lot of upkeep.

“We take care of the land and are mindful of always leaving it better than it was when we arrived,” said Rose Richardson, stewardship manager with the Land Conservancy. “We do many different things. We install native plants and treat noxious species. We clean up and maintain trails.”

Late in 2020, The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy bought the Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve. It’s a 95-acre area on the banks of the Little Spokane River, and in 2021 Tribal Fisheries released 51 adult Chinook salmon into the Little Spokane River there. That was the first time in 111 years that the native Chinook returned.

“We protect the land in many different ways,” Richardson said. “We thin out the forest to prevent catastrophic wildfires, and we clean up social trails so the wildlife can have its space.”

A volunteer land steward program is staffed by 62 volunteers who help keep an eye on specific properties. These stewards also work on the public areas managed by the Land Conservancy, where some host hikes and participate in trail upkeep and management.

Richardson said work at Waikiki Springs will be high priority this summer.

“Little Spokane River is a very diverse place and it’s culturally very important to local tribes,” Richardson said. “We will be doing a lot of forest care there, and in the fall we will be planting quite a bit.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

To learn more and to volunteer for trail projects and tree plantings visit https://inlandnwland.org/.

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  1. Local Treasures with Pia