We got word from some dedicated ice climbers that Kootenai County Parks and Waterways is considering the sale or disposal of Chilco Falls Park, one of the best ice-climbing spots in the entire inland northwest. Difficult to find, difficult to access, and with no park amenities whatsoever, the property is being considered for surplus, with the proceeds of any sale rumored to go toward facilities in more popular parks and waterways facilities in the County.
This isn’t the first time the County has had the idea, however. Back in 1998, the Spokesman-Review covered a previous attempt to unload the property. However, according to the article, “Chilco Creek was donated to the state in 1914 by developer C.S. Argo. He stipulated that the land must be open to the public ‘forever.’ It eventually became county property.”
The County disposed of the property back then, only to trade to reacquire it after recreationalists and nearby residents complained. As Spokesman-Review writer Dave Oliveria wrote at the time, “Here we have a park that requires low to no maintenance, is popular locally and offers an unusual recreation experience. The commissioners need to undo this booboo. Or be booed.”
We’re told the County Commissioners have asked legal staff to review the idea. Hopefully, though, they will learn from history and leave well enough alone.
P.S. In researching the history of the area, we came across this article about someone named Larry Spencer running a dumpy and illegal trailer sales business near the park. Is it the SAME Larry Spencer? Did he actually get his after-the-fact permit for his substandard trailer sales operation? Is THIS what he’s talking about when it comes to “property rights”? If anyone has any more details on this, we’re interested.
(Update 5/19: it seems the county’s Chilco Park web page has vanished and it has been purged from the facilities map.)