Archive for April, 2010

 Although Koootenai Environmental Alliance has made a pact with the IRS to not endorse candidates or otherwise engage in political work, we can still get the word out about the citizenship basics of election processes. And our friends at Conservation Voters for Idaho reminded us today that the primary election in Idaho is only 26 days away, and we’d thought we’d pass along their advice:

Some elections will be decided in the primary coming up on Tuesday, May 25th.  Friday, April 30th is the last day to register to vote before the primary election. You need to register or re-register if you have recently moved, changed your name, or have not voted in the last 4 years.

Go to www.IdahoVotes.Gov for voter registration information or directly download the Voter Registration Form (pdf). If the form is postmarked by the close of business on April 30th you will be registered to vote in the primary. You can also register to vote in person at your polling place with a valid photo I.D. that shows your current address.

Voters do not register with any political party and you can vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary. You will receive both ballots when voting and if you mark choices on both ballots your vote will not count so be sure to only fill out one.

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Some of the things interesting to us lately:

The first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency talks about environmental protection in these times — Wall Street Journal

March 2010, another very warm month on the planet — NOAA 

A new kind of non-non-profit corporation to benefit society — Chronicle of Philanthropy

Greening your company is good, but giving green is maybe even better — Huffington Post

The Giant Palouse Earthworm – FOUND! — University of Idaho

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Even as we refine our on-line presence (We’re on Twitter! And Facebook!) , we try not to get too caught up in click-counting here at KEA 2.0. Just as lawn signs are not a good predictor of election day outcomes, clicks are not necessarily a good indicator of commitment.

Still, we were fascinated as to why our blog’s most popular post, by far, was the one about the federal statute that created Woodsy the Owl. Well, it seems that our blog posting, for whatever reason, has made it to number one on Google if you’re searching for Woodsy Owl images.

For what it’s worth, we borrowed that particular public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. Still, we welcome the search engine traffic to our North Idaho outpost. So here are a couple more Woodsy the Owl images for our blog visitors from around the world.

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Our friends at Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are ramping up their efforts to get commitments for wilderness designation for some of North Idaho’s best landscape.  The idea has been around for a long time, and we agree that it’s about time that we see some movement. Indeed, here in the KEA offices, we just came across an old fact sheet about Scotchman Peaks describing an early proposal.  So it got us to reading some stuff:

— Let’s protect Scotchman Peaks Wilderness once and for all — Idaho Conservation League, and an op-ed in the Bonner County Daily Bee.  (Take action at a nifty Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness page which will allow you to email your congressional representatives.)

— Meanwhile in Montana, EarthJustice has problems with Sen. Tester’s proposals about logging and wilderness — New West

— Politically, how’s Obama doing on western land policy? — Rocky Barker’s blog

— Climate and wilderness forces should be combined — Firedoglake

— Fine dining and wild rivers (featuring our friends at ROW Adventures) — New York Times

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Spokane River at State Line

In the post-Earth Day Sunday paper, the Spokesman Review published our take on the Spokane River cleanup. We agree that Idaho isn’t being treated fairly, but it isn’t like we have clean hands on our side of the border.

Here’s hoping we can just get on with the difficult business of getting the nutrients out of the river.

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Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens played a leading role in the development of modern environmental law — Legal Planet

Food and climate change and Anna Lappe at Get Lit! in Spokane — Out There Monthly

Off road vehicles vs. land protection — USA Today

A diminished environment is the new normal — Yale Environment 360

Two more glaciers gone at Glacier National Park — Spokesman Review

Idaho needs to re-start water quality monitoring.  Someday.  — Rocky Barker’s Blog

Where exactly do we live?  Some very interesting maps. — NRDC Switchboard  and The Map Scroll

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The CDA Press recently reported and editorialized about the recent development forum, which focussed attention on frustrations with County approval and enforcement processes in the Kootenai County Building and Planning Department.

 As perhaps the ardent environmentalists referred to in this CDA Press editorial, we would only say that not all of the blame can be laid in the Department. A huge problem is the failure of the Commissioners to adopt even minimal fixes to horribly dysfunctional building codes, zoning codes, hearing procedures, and site disturbance and flood control ordinances. And, of course, a comp plan decision is way overdue.

 It isn’t just the comp plan that is stuck in the Commissioners’ bottleneck. The County Commissioners have had a draft ordinance to fix at least some of their outmoded and inefficient hearing procedures sitting on their desks since last summer.  They’ve held hearings, but deliberations have stalled.

 Fairness, clarity, and consistency are values we can all agree on, but the Department could also use some supportive legislative action in that regard.  When it comes to the basic rules governing the county, the Department doesn’t have much to work with.

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The Environmental Law Clinic at Gonzaga’s Law School represents Kootenai Environmental Alliance on Clean Water Act issues — currently including our efforts to clean up after the mess made by the Fernan Lake road project, and our efforts on behalf of the Spokane River.  While this is a relatively new development for KEA, and while this clinic is a new incarnation at Gonzaga Law, environmental law clinics around the country are doing important work for small environmental groups like ours.  

 Recently, a number of law clinics have come under attack for their work, including teh nationally ranked clinic  at the University of Maryland, my law school alma mater.  Legislators in Maryland went after the Maryland Law School’s budget after a large poultry producer complained about the Clinic’s Clean Water Act enforcement case against the producer and its contract farmer for polluting the Chesapeake Bay.  After a national outcry, the law school’s budget was restored, but the Environmental Law Clinic will be required to file a report to the legislature regarding its clients and cases.

 Environmental law is a complex field, and having firsthand clinical experience is important legal training for increasingly specialized lawyers-to-be.  But it is also extraordinarily valuable to groups like KEA. We wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the legal fees that can accrue in complex environmental cases, and we wouldn’t otherwise have access to young, bright, and motivated law students to work on our behalf on such complex matters.  As we try to protect water quality in North Idaho, we’re glad to have Gonzaga’s clinic on our side.

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This posting from KEA’s local food hero, Korrine Kreilkamp:

After several successful years of collecting and distributing over 16,000 lbs. of fresh produce to feed the hungry, the Community Roots program of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance is creating a new way to further strengthen our local food system.

 Starting this spring, the program plans to build a charitable Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Dalton Gardens called “The Roots CSA.”  The CSA model is an arrangement between a farmer and the community. In exchange for financial support in the spring from a group of community supporters, the farmer commits to provide them with a box of healthy, sustainably grown food every other week throughout the growing season.

 What makes this CSA unique is that a large portion of the CSA shares will be accessible to families of limited means. These low-income subscriptions, offered at a discounted rate, will be supported by full-price subscriptions, low-income household sponsorships, and a significant percentage of volunteer labor.

 St. Vincent de Paul has partnered with The Roots CSA to provide low-income household referrals and a convenient food drop-off point at the new St. Vincent de Paul Help Center for produce pick-ups. Our CSA will focus on those households that, due to unforeseen circumstances such as rising medical costs or the loss of employment, are struggling to keep good food on the table.

“Many of the households that seek our services at St. Vincent de Paul could benefit from eating local nutritious food.” commented Jeff Conroy, Executive Director. “I see this The Roots CSA project as being a great way to enhance our existing life skills classes for low income households.”

photo by KEA BlackberryCam

 The project takes an unused piece of land in Dalton Gardens and turns it into a productive working landscape. In doing so it also allows a talented farmer, Caleb Goss, to market food directly to community clients and to demonstrate organic farming practices that inspire more agriculture in the area.

 In this challenging economy many people are in the midst of redefining themselves, and now is the time to close the loop in our charitable food system so that food handouts can become food how to’s.

If you would like to be involved as a supporter of The Roots CSA or if you would like to sponsor a low-income household for the season, contact Korrine Kreilkamp at rootsCSA (at) kealliance (dot) org

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Clean water wonks and TMDL nerds should spend some time reading the documents collected at Spokane River Forum relating to the Spokane River “dispute resolution” proceedings before Washington’s Department of Ecology.  KEA’s comments are posted there (and at our website), along with a lot other legal mumbo jumbo filed by a number of interested parties.   

Some breaking news there, perhaps:  In a letter  to Idaho’s Congressional delegation, EPA has agreed to not implement the TMDL in Idaho until the dispute resolution in Washington is completed. (A pdf here)

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