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Archive for December, 2010

Because it is easy enough to do, and because everyone else seems to be doing it, we’ve tallied the clicks and the top ten posts here on the KEA blog in 2010 are listed below. With one amazing exception and one minor exception, the most popular postings are actually very reflective of the work KEA has been doing. The Spokane River, the M3/BLM land exchange proposal, the Coeur d’Alene Basin cleanup, the comp plan, elections, and wolves are all in the top ten.

Without further ado, the following posts got the most clicks in 2010:

10. KEA Expresses Concern With M3 / IFG / BLM Land Exchange Proposal

9. KEA Submits Comments on Spokane River Cleanup Plan

8. Breaking News: Osprey Association Files Cougar Bay Lawsuit Challenging IDL Rejections

7. Butch Otter’s Wolf Mistake

6. Meeting Keith Allred

5. Spokane River TMDL — It is not fair, not perfect, but not worth delaying

4. Hecla Mining and the Silver Valley Cleanup

3. Neighbors to the Rescue of East Side Llamas

2. Breaking News: Commissioners’ Comp Plan Decision to Fail

And the surprising winner and still all-time champ: an old post about Woodsy the Owl.

1. The owl is required to be fanciful and must wear slacks

The lessons to be learned here are: (1) readers are interested in what we actually do at KEA, (2) readers are also interested in what our members do, especially when accompanied with awesome pictures of llamas, and (3) search engines rule, and when people want to know about Woodsy the Owl, KEA is a leading source of information and images. Amazingly enough.

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We sent a version of this post to our friends and members earlier this week, and we thought we’d share our thoughts on 2010 here as well. We’ve had a pretty good year at KEA.

As this end-of-year letter is being written, the Kootenai County Commissioners are finally completing work on the long-awaited comprehensive plan. As you know, KEA has been involved at every step of the way. Although the final product is not all that we would have liked it to be, the new plan is still a vast improvement over the hopelessly out-of-date version currently in effect. KEA’s friends and members can take credit for most of the improvements within the new plan, and for fending off attempts to derail those improvements by developers, builders and misguided business interests.

In other 2010 accomplishments, KEA’s Community Roots program started up Kootenai County’s first, and only, charitable CSA in Dalton Gardens, making CSA fresh produce accessible to food stamp recipients. Meanwhile, the Roots program also maintained our plot at the Shared Harvest community garden and continued our fresh food deliveries to food assistance facilities in Coeur d’Alene.
KEA continues to comment on U.S. Forest Service proposals in the region, and was successful this past summer in pressuring the local USFS office to release overdue monitoring reports. We continue to be engaged in very preliminary collaborative conversations about forest management throughout the Panhandle, and we increased our coalition and coordination efforts with fellow conservationists and forest activists throughout the region.

In the past year, KEA spent a great deal of time and effort on difficult and controversial water quality concerns. With our partnership with the Environmental Law Clinic at Gonzaga Law School, KEA was successful in forcing the Federal Highway Administration to correct serious deficiencies in its Fernan Lake Road reconstruction project. KEA also provided substantial comments into the Spokane River cleanup process and EPA’s proposed cleanup for the Upper Coeur d’Alene Basin.

We know that the most successful strategy for environmental protection is a well-educated community. This is why KEA has worked hard to improve our communications and outreach efforts.  We have utilized social media to extend our reach to a wider audience than ever before via Facebook, Twitter and this KEA blog and we continue our work to improve our newsletters, e-news, and website.  Also, our 38th year of noon meetings at the Iron Horse may have been our best so far.

In October, our Second Annual Junk2Funk Eco-Fashion Show bigger, better, and more successful than the previous year. With more than 35 artists participating in this chic eco-fashion event, our annual event has made environmental/conservation awareness positively fun.

Looking ahead to 2011, we expect to make more progress, and new progress. This spring and summer, look for KEA to begin a new phase of our Hayden Lake Project with some demonstration projects in collaboration with local schools.

Look to KEA to gain greater protections for beloved Cougar Bay. And look to KEA to lead the efforts to re-write the zoning and development regulations in Kootenai County to protect natural and scenic resources, maintain rural areas, stop sprawl, and protect our quality of life.

If you’ve heard me speak about KEA, you’ve probably heard me say it it before, the most important prerequisite for environmental protection in our region is a healthy KEA. The strength, breadth and commitment of our grassroots members and supporters are what gives us influence and power to do the critical conservation work that none of us can do alone.


Please consider an end of year contribution. If you’re not a member, consider joining. If you are a member, consider an additional contribution. If you’re a contributor, consider contributing a little extra this year. We know that this economy is tough and your household finances are stretched thin. At the same time, the threats to our environment and quality of life remain, while KEA’s already-tight budget is projected to be even tighter in the new year.

We accomplish what we accomplish because of your support.

From all of us at KEA, our very best for 2011.

Terry Harris
Executive Director

 

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It’s done! Although I’m semi snowed-in today, I got word from the Kootenai County Commissioners that the long-awaited Comprehensive Plan is complete. Signed into official status as of this morning.

According to the press release sent by the County, the process that formally began more than four years ago, was completed with three Commissioner signatures on the document this morning.  The press release describes the long and tortuous process somewhat bloodlessly:

The updating of the Plan began in the fall of 2006 with the firm Kezziah Watkins conducting “Meetings in a Box” in order to gather a wide-range of public input. In January 2007, the Kootenai County Planning and Zoning Commission (Planning Commission) began an intensive Comprehensive Plan amendment process that incorporated public comments received at the many workshops and “road show” informational meetings they conducted. Following the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners provided additional opportunities for public review in order to gain final public and agency input.  Following an extensive review of the draft plan and supplemental public comments, the Board completed their deliberations on December 28, 2010.

The County’s press release was effusive in thanks: to the Planning Commission which clearly put in the most work; and to”the many state agencies, city mayors, councils, managers, planners, and staff from County departments for their effort in developing and reviewing this plan.”

But we thought the County was especially nice to acknowledge and thank “the hundreds of citizens who attended countless public meetings, workshops, local neighborhood meetings, and public hearings. Your thoughtful review of the plan and its goals and policies have been essential to capturing the spirit and vision of what makes and will keep Kootenai County great.”  We are pretty sure they are talking about KEA members.

Thanks and congratulations to everyone who has been to a meeting, testified at a hearing, wrote comments, or listened to me rant about it all.  The plan could have been better, but it would have been much much worse without your hard work.

 

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Does it seem that every single non-profit in the entire world has sent you an email in the last week or two? And something in the mail? And maybe a fresh newsletter?  There’s a reason for that. Not to give away the trade secrets or anything, but non-profits need money to survive, and people give generously at this time of year.

In fact, according to an annual survey, more than 3 out of 4 Americans plan on giving money to charities in the last 6 weeks of the year. Many wait until the last three days of the year. Some $48.4 billion (that’s billion-with-a-B) will be donated this holiday season. Most people give to at least two or three charities with most donations under $100. With high-dollar donors included, the average total gift amount is $281. Donors are giving through many different channels these days, and on-line giving is expected to be at an all time high.

Anyway. We just bring this simple explanation to your attention as a public service. And if you feel so inclined, consider an end of year donation to your local grassroots non-profit conservation organization. Our official end-of-year email will go out later this week.

 

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As the lame duck session of the U.S. Congress draws to a close, Idaho’s Senators threw some wild punches today and come away with nothing but embarrassment.

First, as the final debate of the START treaty got underway this afternoon, Senator Crapo brings up, of all things, the issue of wolves. From Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez:

Indeed, our Senator Crapo asked for unanimous consent to take up the issue, knowing full well that it was out of line and wouldn’t be granted, and then issued a press release decrying the lack of action on wolves.

Then there’s this exchange between Senator Risch and Senator Cardin on the START treaty, also reported  elegantly on twitter by CBS reporter Mark Knoller:

After first quipping that the plot of Mission Impossible IV will be the retrieval of these four Humvees by Tom Cruise, Knoller continues:

And the great deliberative body of the U.S. Senate gently sets aside our Senator’s Humvee issue and gets on with more pressing business:

Here’s hoping that 2011, and the 112th Congress, will bring better representation for our state.

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At a deliberation this morning, postponed from several weeks ago, the Kootenai County Commissioners signaled that they are nearing completion of the long-awaited comprehensive plan. After some unpublicized “workshops” with officials from cities on the prairie, which had criticized the plan at the most recent hearing, the Commissioners agreed to several tweaks to the most recent draft to accommodate some of their concerns. At this morning’s deliberation, the Commissioners completed all but the land use chapter, which is scheduled to be deliberated Tuesday afternoon.

Among the changes, the Commissioners agreed with KEA comments to clarify that a minimum of 70% of future development should be directed to municipalities. Commissioners did some rearranging of some of the goals and policies in some of the chapters, and made some wholesale deletions of mostly-extraneous text. Commissioners Currie and Piazza refused, however, to restore development densities into the plan – still a fatal flaw.

Based on today’s pace, and with only the land use chapter remaining, the Commissioners could complete the plan, for once and for all, on Tuesday afternoon.

 

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We got word today that the U.S. Forest Service has withdrawn the massive Lakeview-Reeder project which would have authorized commercial harvesting of more than 2300 acres near Priest Lake. According to a letter signed by Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Renotta McNair, “The Forest Service will not proceed with the activities proposed by the Lakeview Reeder Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project unless and until we undertake further analysis in accordance with all applicable law and make a new decision.”

The environmental community was sharply critical of the proposed sale on a number of grounds, but the Forest Service’s decision appears to be rooted in a recent federal appeals court decision that was critical of how the Forest Service manages wildlife habitat.

The wildlife biology is quite complex, and the court’s decision is quite complex, and the Lakeview Reeder project has very similar habitat issues to those criticized by the court. So we think it was probably a wise decision by the Forest Service to take another hard look at this project before moving forward with something that might not hold up in a courtroom.

 

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We recently heard from some of our friends and KEA members from the east side of Coeur d’Alene Lake about how a small herd of llamas at Arrow Ranch was struggling to survive the recent winter weather. We thought we’d pass along their story:

When the snow began last Monday [before Thanksgiving], I noticed the herd of fifteen clustered around the manger in the pasture.  As the week progressed, I would pass them on my way into town and again later in the day.  They were always standing there.  Oddly, I never saw them eating anything. Finally, I stopped to investigate.  Nowhere was there any evidence that these animals had been fed since the snow began.

After some conversations with Kootenai County animal control, the County located the owner who responded that the animals were being fed some 40 to 50 pounds of hay every two to three days. However:

All through the weekend, the llamas continued to stand, seemingly snowbound, in that same place.  Tuesday, I spoke to a man with the Montana Large Animal Rescue. He states that, in this weather, each adult llama requires 10 pounds of hay daily!  That means they should be getting 150  lbs total each and every day! How will this end for these animals?

The neighbors rallied. They delivered hay.

It has been very powerful watching many of our neighbors respond to this call for helping the llamas. This will be a day to day watch and many of us are willing to step in to make sure these innocent animals do not starve.

It is amazing how much one can learn about an animal, from going through a situation such as the neighborhood is presently facing regarding the llamas at Flying Arrow Ranch.  If you are out and about today and able to drive by Flying Arrow Ranch, take a look at the llamas right now – today.  They are behaving as fed animals in winter are supposed to behave.  They are clustered around the leftover hay (thanks to a neighbor for delivering that!), chewing their cud and they are no long begging – for now.

The neighbors getting involved want nothing more than to keep these animals safe and without suffering, especially during this extreme winter weather we are experiencing.

When asked about what KEA could do to help, we got these words of wisdom:

What is needed is some sort of system of animal advocacy. There are far too many animals suffering the ill effects caused by the economic situation and/or the lack of information on the part of their caretakers. The best thing people can do right now is to pay attention to the animals around them. Get information on the care of suspected neglected animals. And finally, do something — if things look wrong, they probably are. As Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

We couldn’t agree more. We certainly hope this ends well, but it’s early in the year, and there are a lot of animals in our county. In any event, thanks to our wonderful east side neighbors for coming to the rescue.

UPDATE 1/21: We heard from a commenter that the llamas have been recently checked out by a vet, and that they’re doing okay now.  Good to hear.

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This post from Korrine Kreilkamp at our wonderful Roots CSA:

Thanks to a grant from The Fund For Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Kiwanis, and numerous individual sponsors, this spring we were able to initiate the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Kootenai County. The CSA consisted of 17 full priced shareholders and 12 discounted shareholders. We received  72 hours of on the farm volunteer labor and we were able to grow and fill 232 boxes of fruits and veggies (each consisting of 6-10 varieties) starting in  July and running through mid October. One of the primary principles behind the Roots CSA vision is that in order for a real local food movement to take hold, the food must be enjoyed and supported by people of all income levels.

Along with receiving the freshest and tastiest produce, Roots CSA Shareholders also received regular newsletters with their share boxes that provided information on how to prepare the vegetables for eating, how to get involved in shareholder work days and how to participate in social outings at the Roots CSA.

Planning for next year is already underway. Our wonderful CSA farmer, Caleb Goss, is off to even greener pastures next summer, so we’re looking for someone to work the CSA next season. If you know somebody who likes to get their hands dirty, let us know. We’ve just posted a job description here.

We are very proud of what has been accomplished in our first season and we look forwarding to incorporating new energy and skill in the years that follow. If you would like to become a Roots CSA supporter, give us call at 659-0287.

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A great presentation today by Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures about the Lochsa megaloads. As promised, here is a quick follow-up. First, in response to a question as to “what standard” the hearing examiner would use to make his decision, the “general” standard is given in the IDAPA rule 39.03.09.100 (pdf) (our emphasis added) :

100.RESPONSIBILITY OF ISSUING AUTHORITY.

01. Primary Concerns. The primary concern of the Department, in the issuance of overlegal permits, shall be the safety and convenience of the general public and the preservation of the highway system. (4-5-00)
02. Permit Issuance. The Department shall, in each case, predicate the issuance of a overlegal permit on a reasonable determination of the necessity and feasibility of the proposed movement. (4-5-00)

Of course, the applicant for a SHT* load needs to comply with all of ITD’s other regulations as well. Including the “10-minute rule,” buried grammatically in IDAPA 39.03.16.100.01 (pdf) (our emphasis):

01. Overlegal permits will not normally be issued for movements which cannot allow for the passage of traffic as provided in IDAPA 39.03.11, “Rules Governing Overlegal Permittee Responsibility and Travel Restrictions,” Subsection 100.05, except under special circumstances when an interruption of low volume traffic may be permitted (not to exceed ten (10) minutes) or when adequate detours are available.

Thanks again to Peter Grubb for a great presentation, and his courage and persistence in taking on this fight.

*Super Huge Truck

Also as promised, here’s the video Peter suggested:

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