Posts Tagged ‘interns’

Intern Kayla  Baker reports on the excellent IdaH2O Master Water Steward program she attended last month. Programs like these (including forestry and master gardening) at the University of Idaho Extension could be threatened in the Kootenai County budget process.

The IdaH2O Master Water Steward Program, offered by the University of Idaho Extension, is only a year old but shows promise in educating North Idaho citizens about water quality monitoring. From my experience with the program, I believe that it is an excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in the health of our local water systems. In just a day, citizen volunteers learn how to assess streams and lakes on a number of bases: habitat (riparian and canopy cover, streambed substrate, human use, etc.), physical (water transparency, stream width and depth, stream velocity, etc.), chemical (water pH levels, dissolved oxygen levels, amount of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphorous), and biological (survey of present invertebrates).

The program’s lecture portion is to the point and is enlightening. I feel the most important thing one will learn from this seminar is how human use of water can impair water quality; for example, the overuse of fertilizers containing phosphorous or nitrate can lead to a lack of oxygen in the water, which is dangerous for the aquatic ecosystem as a whole. Following the lecture period, volunteers are given a hands-on experience to apply themselves in a local stream. This is important for program goers, as they are given the optional task of carrying out annual water monitoring on a stream of their choice, and are given all the tools required to carry out the monitoring. The IdaH2O program hopes that the data collected by their certified water stewards will someday help agencies institute standards for water quality in the area.

I was very fortunate to take part in the program due to my internship at the Kootenai Environmental Alliance. After taking a course in Environmental Science at North Idaho College, I find the IdaH2O program to be a great supplement in a hands-on and more personal way. Personally, my favorite aspect of the course was biological assessment, as I hope to become a wildlife biologist in the future. It is important to me to see that our water systems have an appropriate amount of biodiversity in order to keep a healthy balance of life, and it is essential that close attention is paid to organisms that serve as indicators of environmental health.

With what I have gained from this program, I hope to make a change as a student. I am currently forming a student environmental group at North Idaho College, and I am planning to start a water monitoring site and include student members in assessment. This will hopefully culminate in a campus-based campaign to raise awareness of how to keep our watershed healthy.

I am glad to have the opportunity to take this class, and I hope that many citizens will take a little time to discover how truly important water is, and hopefully to discover our true duty as stewards to our community and our planet.

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KEA Summer Interns Kayla Baker and Trevor Frank - photo by KEA BlackberryCam

The best part about summers at KEA? Probably the nice weather in North Idaho. Second best? Interns!

Meet Kayla Baker and Trevor Frank — this summer’s interns in the office at KEA. Kayla joins us from North Idaho College where she is currently studying zoology with an eye toward a career in wildlife conservation. Now, though, she’s helping us with pretty much anything and everything that a small local conservation non-profit organization needs to have done.

Interns Kayla Baker and Trevor Frank actually working on stuff - photo by KEA BlackberryCam

Trevor rejoins KEA part-time this summer from University of Oregon’s law school where he will be a 3rd-year student in the fall. Trevor was a member of last summer’s crack legal team and he is back this year doing legal research and causing serious  problems for local polluters.

We’re really pleased that they are taking time from their valuable summer break to help us out.  Also, otherwise, we’d be stuffing envelopes by ourselves.





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Interns Wanted

It is almost the summer intern season, and we’re looking for a few good ones to help us out this year.

More specifically, we are looking for motivated, reliable, and energetic summer interns who would like to gain hands-on experience with community outreach, marketing, non-profit events, and conservation research and advocacy. The internships would be unpaid, but we will provide a great summer experience, a great working environment, and flexible part-time or full-time hours. No experience necessary, but good writing and communication skills are certainly preferred, some college preferred but not necessary, and a strong commitment to our environmental mission is essential. If you are looking to get involved in an environmental non-profit, gain valuable experience, and give back to the community, we want to hear from you.

How to Apply: send a letter of interest and resume to KEA@kealliance.org by May 15.

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This week, the Kootenai County Planning Commission will consider two draft amendments to the county’s site disturbance ordinance.  One draft, submitted by County staff, would add variance and appeal procedures to the ordinance. Another, submitted by a local planning and development firm, would create several potentially broad new exceptions to the ordinance.

 The site disturbance ordinance, of course, provides detailed regulation on how a property can be developed, and in particular, the ordinance creates critical undisturbed and vegetated buffer zones which protect our local waterbodies from runoff and erosion.   

 Some months ago, the Kootenai County Commissioners agreed with a hearing examiner and KEA that the current site disturbance ordinance provided no legal authority for a variance, and thus a request for a variance to allow disturbance of a portion of Hayden Lake’s shoreline was denied. In an effort to plug the regulatory gap, the County’s planning and legal staff has drafted an amendment to the ordinance (link to pdf here) that would allow for variances and appeals, which most land use laws allow.

 Meanwhile, e2 Planning and Design, a Post Falls firm which represents developers (and which represented the development denied the variance on Hayden Lake), has drafted an amendment to the site disturbance ordinance which would allow “installation of new improvements” in the buffer zones if they are recommended by a “design professional” and they “meet the definition of a best management practice.” The County planning and legal staff has attempted to amend the developers’ draft to provide clearer guidance and tighter language (a pdf of the county’s amended  draft is here), but at a workshop meeting of the Planning Commission this morning, the development firm appeared to balk at the County’s re-write.

 KEA is currently developing comments on the two proposed amendments and will appear at the Planning Commission’s public hearing on Thursday evening.  KEA has minor concerns about the County’s proposed variance and appeals amendment and major concerns about the development firm’s amendment.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE 6/25:  More on this later this weekend, but last night, the Planning Commission unanimously passed the County’s proposed variance legislation, and it unanimously tabled the proposal from e2 Planning and Development until concerns from KEA, DEQ, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the County were resolved.  Legal interns Sean Waite and Jeff Briggs testified most impressively and wrote the bulk of KEA’s comments available at our website.

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