Rural Living

Country living demands self-sufficiency and the hard work of being a responsible landowner. Services may not be the same as you are used to in urban areas and cooperation with neighbors and community may be necessary for your health and safety as a resident of a rural county, especially during winter storms, firestorms or other natural catastrophes.


Emergency response from law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical services (EMT’s) may not be as quick as you are accustomed to in larger populated areas. There are several factors that contribute to the possibility of slower response times. Emergency response services are generally within a few miles or less of the need in a city but in many cases in rural living, the incident is miles from emergency services. The fact that you pay taxes for emergency services will not change the distance factor and other associated factors that will slow emergency services response times. Fire departments, for the most part, are volunteer organizations, although competent and skilled these volunteers have jobs they must leave to report to their station, retrieve their equipment and respond to the scene. During business hours this may result in slower response times. The inclement weather of Pend Oreille County will always be a factor in aid vehicle response times and should be understood by prospective property buyers and planned for accordingly. Public roads within the County are maintained by the Pend Oreille County Public Works Department. Total road inventory amounts to slightly over 754 miles. Many private residences and subdivisions are private roads for which the county has no responsibility to maintain. There are approximately 82 miles of non-maintained County roads. Non-maintained means that the county does not plow, grade, gravel or perform any type of maintenance on these road miles. Owners themselves or Home Owners Associations generally maintain them. You may be required to pay dues to the Association to help with the costs of road maintenance in a private situation.

It is important to note that the School Districts in Pend Oreille County generally will not travel on private roads. Parents may need to drive their children to a bus stop on a public road. For information be sure to contact your School District Office in Newport, Cusick, or Selkirk to answer any questions you may have regarding your student.

Do not expect neighbors to sign a petition asking for improved service from the county. Costs are kept down by the willingness of people to go without many of the things suburban and urban people regard as necessities. People cherish their independence and willingness to take care of their own. If your road is unpaved, it is highly unlikely that Pend Oreille County will pave it in the foreseeable future. At $250,000-500,000 per mile of construction money isn’t easy for the County to find. A portion of your property taxes goes toward the maintenance of existing county roads. It does not cover new road construction. Road dollars are collected by the State on the sale of fuels and re-distributed to counties and cities. Generally the amount is enough to maintain and improve a road, but not to construct new, paved roads. However, county standards require developers of new residential subdivisions to build access roads that meet current standards. This helps relieve the County of the burden and places the cost on those that choose to buy the lots.