Archive for January, 2010

Thanks to the donations in the community, our Community Roots program delivered more than 9000 pounds of fresh nutritious food each week this past summer to food assistance facilities, shelters and transitional homes.

We’re proud of the effort, but we realized that maybe we should also be proud of our recipients too where our donated produce is turned into meals. What’s even more amazing, we deliver some odd vegetables sometimes.  Would YOU know what to do with broccoli rabe, beet greens, and lemon cucumber? 

So, we’ve decided to compile our first annual Community Roots Cookbook – which will feature our gardeners, farmers, people and facilities involved in our Community Roots efforts. And, of course, recipes!

Which is where you come in – send us your favorite fruit and vegetable recipes.  Especially recipes for the more unusual produce we come across, and for the more prevalent produce donations. (There’s decidedly NOT a shortage of zucchini and tomatoes in late summer around here.)  Help us help our facilities, and have your recipe published.  

Email recipes to amber AT kealliance DOT org, snail-mail them to Amber here in the KEA office, or post them to the Community Roots facebook group.

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Governor Otter has proposed eliminating Idaho’s Department of Parks and Recreation.  It’s a proposal that is causing, to say the least, a great deal of controversy.  I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about this — from us and from others.  Here are the basics:

The provisions of the deed creating Harriman Park created the Idaho Department of Parks. Get rid of the Department, you get rid of the park too? — Idaho Statesman and Rocky Barker’s Letters from the West blog

Disagreement within Idaho GOP on role of government when it comes to parks — Rexburg Standard Journal

Parks chief addresses lawmakers, says nothing — Eye on Boise

Eliminating Parks Department is a “false economy” — West Yellowstone News

Are Idahoans prepared to pay for parks? — Westword via Magicvalley.com

An online petition — Keep Idaho Parks and Recreation

UPDATE 1/18:  Gov. Otter already backtracking, looking to save face? — Idaho Statesman

UPDATE 1/24:  Indeed, Gov. Otter backs off. — Spokesman Review

And Here‘s the Governor’s Press release.  

Gov. Otter’s idea that Idaho parks still need to pay their own way remains a challenge, however. — Idaho Statesman

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We’ve been waiting quite some time for an announcement, and got the news today: EPA has announced the Obama Administration’s appointment of Dennis J. McLerran to be Regional Administrator for the region that includes Idaho.  (Region 10 is comprised of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Pacific Northwest Indian Country. Its headquarters is in Seattle. )

Because Idaho has declined to administer many of its own environmental programs, EPA has significant jurisdiction in our state, and the Regional Administrator is Idaho’s ultimate environmental decision-maker in many instances.  The Regional Administrator will be responsible for guiding EPA’s role in the Coeur d’Alene basin mine waste cleanup and Clean Water Act permitting. It is probably one of the most important government offices for Idaho not actually based in Idaho.

McLerran comes highly regarded, with lots of state and local government experience and a strong background in clean air.  He was Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, a regional entity that adopts and enforces air quality standards in Washington. 

We look forward to meeting with the new Regional Administrator and working with him on environmental protection in North Idaho.

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On forest issues in our region, “collaboration” is the latest buzzword. Can long-standing issues be resolved by local or regional stakeholder discussions? Or is it more complicated than that? Or much more complicated? Some readings:

The complexities of collaboration by the Forest Service — High Country News and a response from a newish blog A New Century of Forest Planning. The comments to the blog postings are also well worth reading.

The official blog for the Forest Planning Rule — USDA Forest Service

Snowpack, not temperature, may be most critical to sub-alpine forest carbon capture — Science Daily via Yale 360.

How to cut the costs of fighting wildfire — Headwaters Economics via Idaho Conservation League 

Collaboration in Eastern Oregon — about a project in the Bend Bulletin, about legislation in the New York Times

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My friends (all 1000 of them) back in Maryland posted this item recently, and wouldn’t it be nice here in Idaho!  According to a relatively new Maryland law, all key land use decision makers are now required to take an on-line training course in planning and zoning. 

We skimmed the course materials (here — a large pdf) and were impressed with the breadth and clarity and organization of the course, developed by the state’s Department of Planning.  Some of the concepts are very particular to Maryland, but some are relatively universal.  It seems like such an excellent idea and easy to implement —  a simple course to explain the terms and concepts of land use law and planning would probably be an enormous benefit to the often inexperienced elected and appointed officials here in Idaho.

As the Kootenai County Commissioners are scheduled to continue their stunningly slow slog through the draft update to the Comprehensive Plan on Monday, maybe a quick review of the Maryland materials would be a good refresher.

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As we wrote last month, we were somewhat taken aback by a developer’s request for a variance under the County’s site disturbance ordinance because, well, the ordinance doesn’t have provision for variances.  It turns out that the County hearing examiner agreed and recommended that the request for variance be denied as a matter of law.

In a well-reasoned opinion, hearing examiner Rebecca Zanetti recommended that a proposal for a walkway through the 25-foot buffer zone around Hayden Lake be denied to Timber Ridge, LLC, who is developing a controversial subdivision above the Lake. Zanetti walks through the possible legal theories under which a variance might be granted and explains clearly why it just can’t be done. Zanetti concludes, “Applying a variance procedure to the current Site Disturbance Ordinance would be akin to amending it, which cannot be done in a variance proceeding, by either a hearing examiner of the Board of County Commissioners.”

We’re told that unless there is a request for further public hearing, the Board of County Commissioners is likely to review Zanetti’s recommendation at their regularly scheduled deliberation meeting January 14.

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We were tracking our Twitter feed today, when an interesting item from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game popped up regarding the extended wolf hunting season in the state.  Last week, the Department issued a “reminder” press release noting that hunters who had purchased a wolf tag for the 2009 wolf hunting season would need to purchase another one for 2010 to hunt in the extended season. Plus, the Department reminded, there’s a hunting limit of one wolf per calendar year, so any wolves killed in this 2010 extended season would disqualify a hunter from the 2010 fall season. If there is one, of course. Oh, and don’t forget to renew your hunting license for 2010 too.

Maybe this bureaucratic juggling prompted by the new calendar year is something that comes naturally to wolf hunters.  But it seems to us that this is perhaps an administrative mess of unintended consequences caused by the hasty extension of the wolf season in Idaho. Or maybe it’s just simply a way to sell more tags to boost revenue.  Either way, and regardless of how one feels about the wolf hunt in Idaho, this doesn’t make much logical sense.

By the way, wolves will be the topic for our noon meeting this Thursday at the Iron Horse, as we kick off the 38th consecutive year year of these public informational gatherings.

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Between bowl games:

National Academy of Sciences reports that growth and development threaten parks and preservation — Oregon State and TPL

Activism on the internet is NOT overrated — FiveThirtyEight

A visit to new Owyhee canyonlands wilderness — Wilderness Society

Small forests with role in carbon solutions, says Rolling Stones piano player — CNN

Forests will need to migrate northward or uphill — Pacific Forest Trust

Federal agencies may soon need to consider climate in environmental impact statements  — LA Times

Former USFWS director says wolf decision makes Endangered Species Act sibject to “political manipulation” — Washington Post

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