A coalition of Palouse-area nonprofit organizations has kicked off a campaign to fund Moscow Mountain’s first legally-protected public access trail easement.

An initiative of Palouse Land Trust, with support from Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA) and Palouse Road Runners, the Moscow Mountain Forever project aims to raise $40,000 to fund conservation and public access easements for land near Idler’s Rest Nature Preserve. The near-term intent is to connect trails at Idler’s Rest to existing trails near Paradise Point.

According to Lovina Englund, Executive Director of Palouse Land Trust, the Moscow Mountain Forever initiative has long-term plans in addition to its current fundraising goal.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of a wonderful local landowner, we have an opportunity today to secure public access to land that is ideally situated for expanding access to the Moscow Mountain trail network for the community,” said Englund. “But we don’t want to stop there. We hope this is just the first big step toward protecting a contiguous wildlife, working forest, and recreation corridor on Moscow Mountain in perpetuity.”

With more than 60 miles of trails open to non-motorized use, the wooded ridgeline just north of Moscow is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, mushroom hunting, and other outdoor activities. More than 95% of those trails are located on private land and open to public use at the discretion of the landowner.

“We have great long-standing relationships with many landowners on Moscow Mountain who have graciously allowed us to build and maintain trails for public use,” says MAMBA president Sandra Townsend. “It’s exciting to see a landowner stepping up to allow that access to continue forever.”

Patricia “Trish” Hartzell is voluntarily placing 57 acres of property under legal safeguard by Palouse Land Trust. The property will remain under her ownership and be subject to two easements. A conservation easement will permanently limit the uses of the land to protect its conservation values while a trails easement will ensure permanent public access to trails on the parcel.

A proposed trail, to be built and maintained in coordination with MAMBA and volunteers, will start at Idler’s Rest Nature Preserve and continue up Moscow Mountain about one half mile to connect with the existing MAMBA trail near Paradise Point known as “Jack’s Route.” The new trail would be open to non-motorized use, including hiking, trail running and mountain biking. The trail is targeted for Summer/Fall 2022 construction, pending a successful fundraising campaign and completion of the easement process.

Donations can be made at the Moscow Mountain Forever website at moscowmountainforever.org.