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When Coldwater Creek, one of Sandpoint’s largest employers, declared bankruptcy a few short years ago, predictions of doom and gloom for the local economy soon followed.

But a report by Headwaters Economics, found that Bonner County has shown surprising resiliency. The area has seen slow and steady growth, with the majority of jobs landing outside of tourism and travel.

One of the reasons credited for the area’s success is one simple fact: people want to live here. Sandpoint and its neighboring communities are blessed with a high quality of life, thanks to ample opportunities to play in the outdoors-whether it’s boating on Lake Pend Oreille, hiking in the nearby peaks, or skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

One of the key ways people enjoy the surrounding lakes and mountains-and get from one place to another-is by trails. In fact, a recent survey, also by Headwaters, shows that trails are an essential part of daily life and that a large majority of people support expanding the existing trail system.

But the area’s trail network is fragmented, so the potential to grow this outdoor amenity and further enhance our quality of life remains an untapped opportunity.

ICL has been working with multiple stakeholders in the county to help develop a countywide trail plan to address the gaps in the system and create a blueprint to follow in developing new trails. For two years, the Trail Mix Committee has been meeting and collaborating on the trail plan, with the support of the Trust for Public Land’s Greenprint GIS services.

The final plan is nearing completion, and then stakeholders will continue to meet and work together to grow the trail network and support Bonner County’s great quality of life.

Learn more about the results of Headwaters trail survey and the countywide trail plan at Ales and Trails, an ICL After Hours event 5-7 pm, Thursday, Mar 24, at MickDuff’s Beer Hall.