Archive for April, 2010

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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We were simply happy with our invitation to the County Commissioner’s “Community Development Forum” scheduled for Monday.  But at a regularly scheduled deliberation meeting at the Board of County Commissioners this morning, Chairman Rick Currie took some time to explain “the purposes and intent” of the now-controversial meeting.

 Reading from a prepared statement, Chairman Currie explained that it is, of course, the job of County Commissioners to meet with different constituencies and that they do it all the time. He said this planned meeting with the “building community” was similar to successful versions in other counties, and was somewhat in response to a suggestion in a Coeur d’Alene Press editorial that such a meeting might be useful here.

 Currie said that they don’t necessarily extend invitations to everyone in every instance, but that “the public is always welcome to attend” any of the Commissioners’ meetings.  As an example, Currie said that “We meet with Highway Districts, but we don’t invite the Senior Centers” to those meetings.

 Well, sure. But certainly Commissioner Currie should understand the distinction in this case.  

 The requirements of the state’s open meetings law notwithstanding, a “Community Development Forum” should probably include more than just the “development and construction communities.”  The entire community has a stake.

UPDATE 3:30 pm: The County released Currie’s written statement, and we have it here: Public Information Release

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