North Idaho’s Bonner County is blessed with scenic vistas, refreshing lakes, abundant wildlife and friendly folks. So it’s no wonder that it is among the fastest growing counties in the West.

For those who love the Sandpoint area and want to keep the water clean and clear, the rural character intact, and the wildlife abundant, we have engaged in an effort to create a “Greenprint” to help guide conservation efforts in the area.

We are working with the Trust for Public Land, Kaniksu Land Trust and the cities of Sandpoint and Ponderay in guiding the Greenprint process-which brings a variety of stakeholders together to map places important to protecting water quality, wildlife, recreation opportunities and working lands.

Using a large variety of data sources, the GIS experts with the Trust for Public Land are working on maps that compile many layers of data and help identify lands that provide multiple public and natural resource benefits. As TPL’s Fred Gifford explained, the resulting maps are a blend of science and preference.

City planners say the Greenprint will help guide the cities’ comprehensive land use plan updates, inform decisions about how the cities want to grow and set budget priorities. The Greenprint will also help attract funding for open space and/or trails.

The Kaniksu Land Trust can use the Greenprint to prioritize its work with landowners for the voluntary protection of private lands that are key to protecting water, wildlife, working lands and recreation.

“Oftentimes we are reactive,” said Eric Grace, executive director of the Kaniksu Land Trust. “This allows us to be proactive.”

Federal and state agencies, local officials, ranchers, loggers and others have participated in the steering committee guiding the Greenprint, which is expected to be completed early next year. For more information, contact me.