Kootenai County and resident clash over permitting his private property used for recreation

A place for hikers and bikers to enjoy in North Idaho might be closed off to the public soon. The county and the man who owns the land are at odds with how the property should be controlled.

Jason Evans, the man who owns the property he calls ‘Cancourse,’ said the county gave him an ultimatum in September.

“Get a conditional use permit, which of course there’d be conditions associated with that, or to shut it to public use,” Evans said. “Post signs that say ‘no trespassing’ or ‘public access,’ as well as taking down my website.”

Cancourse is one of the access points to the Canfield Mountain and the National Forest. Evans said there are not enough access points already, and his is close to the city.

Neighbors say that there’s too much noise and too many people parking in the area. Those homeowners went straight to Kootenai County, which says it’s trying to figure this out.

“There are these impacts are going to be things like barking dogs and dogs not on leashes, and you can imagine all the other things that happen with dogs not on leashes,” explained David Callahan, Kootenai County’s community development director. “Concerns of wildfires, potential for wildfire, trash and litter. The usual sorts of impacts that deal with people going through property and, in this case, unregulated.”

Drew Dittman, a homeowner who also has an engineering company that specializes in land development, said what Evans is doing with his property is generous, however he said there are already “severe parking issues” near the current trailheads. He said he just wants Evans to follow the rules.

“These rules are in place to protect the neighbors, community and the land owner, and to also make sure that adequate infrastructure, facilities and services are in place to accommodate the additional needs created by the project,” Dittman said in a statement.

Evans said this issue is divided for some neighbors. Some of them enjoy the outdoors and want this place to be open for people to use.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful resource for the community to just go out to their back doors, potentially just go right up the side of the mountain,” he said.

But others feel a different way.

“A few people here, they kind of want it both ways. They want their own private access, and they don’t want to share it. We can’t do that, right? Like that’s an unsustainable situation. It has to be something that’s beneficial to a large portion of the population for it to remain here long term,” Evans said.

After receiving the complaints, Callahan and his team evaluated the situation, and they believe the land should be operated under a conditional use permit if Evans continues to let others use it.

“The whole thing about conditional use permit is to have conditions so a land can be a good neighbor, and in this case I could imagine the conditions could be fairly simple,” Callahan said.

However, Evans is worried that if he does get a permit, it could someday be revoked.

“It’d be a really easy set up for shut down,” Evans said.

In Callahan’s 30 or so years of working in this position, he said the county has only taken away one conditional use permit.

“The county and the city agree that recreation is a good thing in this area. We’d all like it to continue. From my viewpoint, we’d just like it to be reviewed in the usual and customary way that we do these things,” Callahan said.

Right now, the fate of the property is up in the air. Both Evans and Callahan say a solution could be in the works including the City of Coeur d’Alene, but nothing is set in stone, yet.

In the meantime, Evans has filed an appeal. The county is taking public comment on this issue until December 9. A public hearing will be held on December 19 at 6 p.m.

To learn more about this issue, visit the Cancourse website.