Lake Pend Oreille Land Protected for Scenic Beauty, Wildlife Habitat, Water Quality and the Good of the Community
Visible for miles up and down Lake Pend Oreille, and nestled against National Forest lands at the base of the Green Monarchs, the Peters property is a new keystone of conservation. For the last 40 years, Doug and Claudia Peters have owned and cared for their nearly 80-acre tract of forest land on Lake Pend Oreille.
One of the largest undeveloped parcels on the east side of the lake, the property contains trees of up to 150 years old, two small streams that cascade down its slopes—bringing cold, clear water to Lake Pend Oreille—and a multitude of mammals, birds, and native plants. It also has a beautiful meadow with stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside, a place where the Peters family and the Kilroy Bay and Pine Cove communities come to picnic and to celebrate special occasions.
And now, they have a very special occasion to celebrate: the permanent protection of this incredible property, with the Thad Peters conservation easement. The easement, named in memory of the Peters’ late son and celebrating his spiritual connection with the land and lake, allows sound forest management to continue but shields the property from ever being subdivided or developed.
This breath-taking property provides significant natural wildlife habitat. Mammals abound and include elk, deer, mountain goats, mountain lions, bobcats, moose, ruffled grouse, and snowshoe rabbits. Birds include bald eagles, red tail hawks, and pileated woodpeckers. Vegetation includes western larches, western red cedars, ponderosa and lodge pole pines, paper birches, quaking aspens, wild roses, snowberries, fairy slipper orchids, queen’s cup bead lilies, wild ginger, glacier lilies . . . and huckleberries. According to Inland Forest Management forester Bill Love, 95% of north Idaho’s native plants and tree species are found the property.
The Peters’ land is perched above the eastern shore of Lake Pend Oreille at Kilroy Bay, starting on a level bench above the lake and then sloping steeply up Schafer Peak. As an enormous expanse of undeveloped natural forest with rock outcroppings, it is visible to thousands of residents and recreationalists around and on the lake. It adjoins the Panhandle National Forest on two sides, insulating the Green Monarch Mountains from nearby development and providing an extension of stream corridors and wildlife habitat.
Doug and Claudia purchased the land in 1977, just after it became part of the American Tree Farm System. It has not been grazed for 60 years, and the timber was last harvested about 25 years ago. Since the Peters acquired it, Doug has spent countless days pruning and thinning the forest, alongside a neighboring landowner. The goal is not only the health of the forest, but protection from wildfire. The Peters property already houses two water tanks and a customized pick-up truck that provides emergency fire protection for the Kilroy Bay and Pine Cove communities. Their land also provides a space for a future community wastewater system, which would replace numerous near-shore septic tanks.
Doug and Claudia Peters are thrilled to have a conservation easement on their property. In their own words, they want “to protect the property from development forever; to assure that the property will be retained in its predominantly natural, scenic, and forested condition; to provide a sustainable forest management that maintains the health and productivity of the forest; to provide relatively natural habitat for native plants and wildlife; and to prevent any use of the property that would significantly impair its conservation values.”
Together with Doug and Claudia Peters, Inland Northwest Land Conservancy is delighted to conserve this scenic treasure, as a haven for wildlife and a buffer against development. It’s also a wonderful neighbor for the Kilroy Bay and Pine Cove communities. Doug and Claudia hope other landowners surrounding Pend Oreille Lake will also consider conserving their lands for the benefit of future generations.