Develop or Preserve?
The Coeur d’Alene tribe answered that question Thursday by purchasing 48 acres of agricultural land in the Latah Valley along US Highway 195.
The tribe announced Thursday that it had bought the land from owner and developer John Pilcher, the former chief operating officer of the city of Spokane. In a statement, the tribe wrote that their plans for the property include “conservation, restoration and access,” with the ultimate goal of encouraging salmon return.
The acquisition is “an important opportunity for the tribe to reestablish a presence in our Native American territory,” Coeur d’Alene tribal chairman James Allan said in the statement. According to the tribe, historical records show that land in the area was used as a salmon store during the summer and fall.
The tribe did not disclose the price at which the property was purchased.
The purchase ends a long period of uncertainty about the future of the property, which comprises 48 of the last 150 acres in the city of Spokane. It’s between Latah Creek and the base of High Drive Bluff Park.
Pilcher had essentially pursued two possible outcomes for the property since 2016 when he both filed for housing developments and nominated them for a Spokane County Conservation Futures grant.
The property appeared ready for development when Pilcher received conditional approval in 2019 to divide the property into 96 lots.
Conservation efforts threatened to fail because the county was never able to secure the property with a grant from Conservation Futures.
In March, a lawyer representing Pilcher warned that “we are nearing the end of the time to keep the property off the market”.