Snowmobilers and other winter recreationalists on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest now have a shelter in which to picnic, escape the elements and warm up, thanks to the efforts of the National Forest Foundation, University of Idaho faculty and students, the U.S. Forest Service, the Sandpoint Winter Riders and regional partners. 

In a true partnership effort, these groups worked together to design and construct a winter warming hut in the Lightning Creek drainage, an area that is a destination for snowmobile riders from throughout the Inland Northwest. 

The warming hut design is holding the heavy snow load well!

Partners involved in designing and building the warming hut gathered for a dedication ceremony in October 2016.

A fantastic showcase of Idaho wood products, the warming hut uses lumber donated by the Idaho Forest Group. The hut adds a component of safety for users recreating in all seasons by providing shelter in cases of emergency. Other partners who provided support include the Idaho Panhandle Resource Advisory Committee, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation and Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation.

A warming hut has been a dream of local recreationalists for years, and the NFF is pleased to have been able to play a part in turning that dream into reality. We have been working with the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and local partners over the last four years in the Lightning Creek watershed as one of our Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences conservation sites. 

Other projects include:

  • the installation of large woody debris in Lightning Creek to support natural sinuosity and fish habitat; planting of willows to stabilize the bank;
  • monitoring and treatment of weeds on roads and trails;
  • construction and maintenance of trails in this popular hiking area;
  • conversion of old roads to trails and repair of culverts to reduce sediment loading of the stream; and
  • surveying of whitebark pine in preparation for seed sowing and seedling planting. 
National Forest Foundation