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Protection from Development

The bluff is surrounded by private property, so it's no surprise that the natural habitat and public access are constantly at risk. The yellow parcels on the map represent private property where public access is still [unofficially] allowed. The green and red properties are detailed below.


Tuscan Ridge

(Red Section in Map Above)

Tuscan Ridge, a planned development of up to 100 condominiums on 23 acres of land at 5600 S. Hatch Road, has a long history on the bluff.


The approved development plans would all but eliminate the most popular access point to the Bluff. The gently sloped road that hikers, bikers, and dog walkers now use will be gated. An extremely challenging trailhead is suggested in plans but would be prohibitively expensive to build. You can learn more about the plans by visiting their 2023 auction announcement.


We are asking for your help to conserve this property in its current state: Parking for 30 vehicles, an amazing view, and irreplaceable trails. 

If you are interested in helping in any way, please reach out to

Watermark John S on Bluff_web.jpg

Fish Camp

(Green Section in Map Above)

(Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)


In spring of 2021, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe stepped in to conserve the 48-acre property at the base of the bluff that was slated for a 96-home development. Since then, they have used to site to further their salmon restoration efforts; including re-releasing a salmon that had traveled all the way from the upper Hangman Creek watershed to the ocean and back. This salmon's return offers concrete proof that they could be restored if fish passage is added to certain dams.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe has expressed that they are excited to engage with the community, but need to complete their planning for the property before considering public access. We ask you to respect their wishes and only access the base of the bluff through the Qualchan Golf Course.

Coeur d'Alene Tribe releases salmon into Hangman Creek on their property at the base of the bluff.

Project Timeline





Jan., 2021

Sept., 2021

John Pilcher purchases 48-acre property at the base of the bluff.

Pilcher files an application for a housing development and nominated it for a Spokane County Conservation Futures grant.

Pilcher receives conditional approval to subdivide the property into 96 lots

Friends of the Bluff contacts several local conservation-minded organizations and asks for help. Over a dozen organizations express their support and meet with us every month to explore options. This group was named the LEAF Coalition (Latah Environment, Agriculture & Fisheries Heritage Project) by city officials. The LEAF Coalition used this video to promote the conservation of the property and collect over 500 public comments. 

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe expresses Interest in the property. The LEAF Coalition provides property information and assists with planning.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe officially purchases the property and names it "Fish Camp." The Spokesman-Review covered the story here.

Statement from the Tribe

The “Pilcher” property, a moniker coined after the name of the property owner John Pilcher, is a 48-acre property located in Spokane County, Highway 195 lying directly to the west, and Interstate 90 approximately 1 1/2 miles to the north. What makes this property so notable is that it holds 48 of the last of 150 acres of zoned agricultural land within Spokane city limits. This particular stretch of Hangman Creek flows for nearly half a mile through the property before joining the Spokane River just a little over three miles downstream, and is one of the last undeveloped stretches of Hangman Creek within Spokane County.


After a lengthy tug-of-war between the public and private sector over the fate of this flagship property, in June 2019 JRP Land LLC, the owner of the ‘Pilcher’ property received conditional approval to sub-divide the property into 96 separate lots for a potential housing development. This significant turn of events spurred on a renewed conservation effort by city officials and others, as the prospect for this new subdivision raised concerns about additional traffic on Highway 195, along with the loss of farmland and the potential harm to ecological function along the creek stemming from the residential construction process. In January 2021, the Tribe was asked to step in, in a final push to save the historical integrity and ecosystem functionality of this essential habitat from becoming another residential development project.


For Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan, this purchase represents “an important opportunity for the Tribe to reestablish a presence in our aboriginal territory.” He shares that this area, known to the Tribe as qu’yu (place where Oregon grape grows), “has a connection to our people, as old as time.”


Preceding its century-old incarnation as a farming homestead, historical records show that the area around the Pilcher property would have been used as a smłich (salmon) camp or village for both the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Tribes in the summer and fall months:


“[Tribes] would come here each autumn from miles around to lay in their winter’s supply of dried fish…At that season the white salmon used to come up the river in great numbers. I have seen them so thick that the rocks on the bottom would not be visible and the fish would have great sores on them from being thrown against the rocks while they fought their way upstream…They had traps sets set there and besides would spear and hook them in all sorts of ways…They would build high scaffolds of willow limbs and fish without salt and they would pack their fish and take it home.” James. N. Glover, 1873


A Coeur d’Alene man (known only as Antelope), living in Worley, Idaho in 1934, described this area saying, “This village was situated on Latah (Hangman) creek about a mile above the point where the highway bridge now crosses the creek. It was a populous permanent settlement valued as a salmon and trout fishing grounds and for the abundant game, including deer, antelope, and beaver which the surrounding territory provided.” (Pacific Northwest Quarterly 27 (2)).


The Tribe is looking forward to the possibility of developing new partnerships with the community on outcomes for the property including preservation, restoration and access. Ultimately, it is the Tribe’s goal to enhance the property’s ecological value in a way that promotes the return of salmon. Tribal Natural Resources Director Caj Matheson states: “This property will provide a unique opportunity for the Tribe to carry the message of salmon restoration further downstream in Hangman Creek and across the state line into Washington. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is pleased to be returning to its aboriginal territory and waterways; [our focus] is, and will always be, on returning salmon to these waterways and all of the different ways that can be achieved.”


‘ats’ qhnt’ wesh is the Coeur d’Alene word that describes its core value of stewardship, meaning “to care for all things with integrity, responsibility, accountability and social awareness in all spheres of life, human animals, natural resources, and the cosmos.” This purchase is an opportunity for the Tribe to reestablish themselves as stewards of this historically-significant place. It symbolizes a reunion of a people and place, commemorating a time when our ancestors once rendezvoused with other tribes to fish (q’aq’amiye’) and celebrate in the bounty of nature.

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