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Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge community work party

Not too far from my alma matter, I frequently made trips out to the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge and became fascinated by its landscape and unique habitat thanks to the Ice Age floods from 15,000 years ago. After the floods, volcanic eruptions in the Cascade Range deposited layers of ash, forming water-tight seals and creating 3,500 acres of sloughs and wetlands on the refuge, which are used by more than 200 species of waterfowl and songbirds.

Today, the Refuge protects 16,000 acres of scab land habitat. 

It's important we keep this gem healthy, so I'm happy to report there's an upcoming opportunity to help.

On October 4th from 9am-noon, the Friends Of Turnbull, the Spokane Audubon Society, and The Lands Council are teaming up to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species. They will have hundreds of native saplings to plant, and fencing to build at the project site to protect the trees from deer, elk, and moose browsing. All are welcome. 

Everybody will meet at the refuge headquarters. Drive five miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road. turn left on Smith Road and drive 2 miles on gravel road to headquarters. Be sure to bring a long-sleeved shirt, work pants, sturdy boots or shoes, gloves.

Teaming Up To Restore Watershed

The sun-dappled water glistened in the late morning light and so did the foreheads of the teens who planted trees along Hangman Creek last week. While some kids learn about sustainability in air-conditioned classrooms, students from M.E.A.D. put classroom knowledge to practical use thanks to a partnership with the Lands Council and help from Spokane Teachers Credit Union. For every member who switches from paper statements to e-statements until June 30, STCU will donate money to plant one tree along Deep Creek, Coulee Creek or Hangman Creek/Cindy Hval, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: From the foreground, Amanda Parker, Aleu Aleu and Isaiah Mitchell poke cuttings of willow branches into the muddy banks of Hangman Creek in Valleyford on May 7)

Question: Have you ever planted a tree? When? Where? Why?

The Lands Council partners with Sheriff Knezovich for “The Green Sleeves Project”

The Lands Council has developed a new effort, "The Green Sleeves Project" in which they will be working with Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and the Spokane County Corrections Labor Program (SCCLP) to restore, and revitalize local watersheds.

It sounds like a win-win with the goal of reducing recidivism and promoting alternative sentencing in Spokane County, while at the same time cleaning and protecting our local watersheds.

Here are the three main components:

1. A hands-on, labor effort in which SCCLP will work to remove invasive weeds and plant/water trees on the banks of Hangman, Deep, Coulee Creeks, and their tributaries. They are also putting together a stormwater proposal for the City of Spokane that will involve Green Sleeves.

2. A secondary education and labor effort directly targeting offenders participating in the Jail-Alternative program in hopes of promoting more alternative forms of sentencing.

3. A hands-on education program located in Geiger Correctional Facility. This will include traditional classes taught on site, and field classes taught in a native tree and plant nursery also located at Geiger.  

Spokane Riverkeeper Partners with Groupon Grassroots for Weeklong Local Campaign

Our friends at the Spokane Riverkeeper have partnered with Groupon Grassroots, the philanthropic arm of Groupon, for a local campaign to fund water quality monitoring efforts on Hangman Creek and the Spokane River; monitoring that will help assist a larger watershed restoration effort being undertaken by Riverkeeper and other local organizations.

The Spokane Riverkeeper local support campaign will be available on the Spokane, Washington Groupon Grassroots page beginning on Wednesday, August 8th and running through Tuesday, August 14th. Utilizing Groupon Grassroots’ collective action model, Groupon subscribers can pledge support for the Spokane Riverkeeper local support initiative in increments of $8 with each $8 providing the ability to run water quality tests of different sections of Hangman Creek and the Spokane River, including tests for phosphates, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and turbidity.

A dam good bill with some teeth in it

OLYMPIA — Beavers making a nuisance of themselves in Western Washington could be relocated to Eastern Washington areas that need their help in damming streams, but the furry critters from Eastern Washington couldn't be shipped west under a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate.

Seems there's already too many of the tree-chomping mammals west of the Cascades.

The proposal, described by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, as a "cute, furry little bill," allows the Department of Fish and Wildlife to set up a system in which a landowner who wants to improve groundwater or downstream flows can request beavers being captured elsewhere and removed from land where they are creating a nuisance. It also provided several legislators some much-needed work on their joke delivery.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Volunteers needed for tree potting

The Lands Council
needs your help. They received a surprise second delivery of over 1,400 seedlings last week and need more help planting seedlings into pots and arranging them into rows at their nursery site.  Below are some additional potting days from Kat Hall:

Tuesday, 4/19, 3-6 p.m.

Wednesday, 4/20, 3-6 p.m.


The Lands Council prepping for annual banquet

ENVIRONMENT — A few tickets remain available for The Lands Council's 16th annual April Showers auction and banquet on April 16 at The DoubleTree Hotel in Spokane.

The event always features good food and wine along with live and silent auction items in a fundraiser to benefit the group's efforts to preserve, protect and revitalize Inland Northwest forests, water & wildlife.
  • Tickets: $60 per individual or $400 per table of eight.
  • Reservations: Amanda Swan, 209-2851.

Pullman served with a Clean Water Act 60-day notice letter

Press Release

City of Pullman Up to Its Neck in Waste

Pullman, WA — April 21, 2010 – The next time you consider swimming or boating on the South Fork of the Palouse River, you might want to consider what you are getting into.

Based upon information obtained from the Washington Department of Ecology, The Land’s Council today sent the City of Pullman a Clean Water Act 60-day notice letter. The notice letter explains that the City’s stormwater system, sewage collection system, and wastewater treatment facility are impairing recreational and environmental uses of the South Fork of the Palouse River and the Palouse by discharging illegal and unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria, chlorine, PCBs (a known carcinogen), and ammonia, among other pollutants. Following the 60-day notice period, The Lands Council intends to seek legal remedies against the City of Pullman for its violations of the Clean Water Act.

The water quality problems facing the South Fork of the Palouse River pose a danger to local residents recreating in the water. One such person is Lands Council member Scott Cornelius, who recreates and maintains a trail for others to recreate along the South Fork of the Palouse River. “It is unfortunate that the contamination has risen to this level,” said Mr. Cornelius. “But we believe with a little push in the right direction, Pullman can begin fixing its pollution problems.”

One major problem facing Pullman, and the residents that use the water, is the excessive discharge of fecal coliform bacteria. These bacteria are found in human feces. Their presence in streams poses a health risk to swimmers and other water contact activities. Another problem is the discharge of toxins, such as PCB’s and the pesticide dieldrin from Pullman’s stormwater system. These carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting pollutants are persistent and attach to fatty cells in humans and fish, posing a long term health threat to those that come into contact with the water or those that eat the fish caught in the polluted water.

Yacht Rock, part deux

It’s not often we get to say this but there’s good news concerning the Blackwell Island controversy: As part of the Marine Yacht Club expansion, which involves dredging the lake bottom, a revised plan will move contaminated sediments from a floodplain where Lake Coeur d’Alene flows into the Spokane River to a landfull.

According to the Center For Justice, “Under an earlier proposal, the Marine Yacht Club, LLC, would have left 15,000 cubic meters of highly contaminated sediments on the island. With the new change, however, the sediments will be hauled to an off-site disposal area. Blackwell Island is situated right where Lake Coeur d’Alene empties into the Spokane River, in an area that also provides recharge to the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.”


Because MySpace is now the Detroit of the internet…

…join the lively discussion on Twitter. We’ve been pumping it up lately but entries shift from serious—-hebalYODA@BarackObama-STOP THE MISSION REPOSITORY- silvervalleyaction.com—- to informative recycling tips for lids on bottles. And yes, the Beaver Solution is a dam good idea. Check us out: http://twitter.com/DTE_Spokane.

Local story roundup + Lands Council letter

Lazy north Idahoans up in arms over potential drive-through ban in Sandpoint – but will they actually get off the couch to submit comments before the city council. (we had to)  A proposal to prohibit drive-through services just recently passed the city’s planning and zoning commission and goes before the city council in May - and locals aren’t happy.  The ban is part of Sandpoint’s attempt to make their city more attractive and more walkable, but DTE applauds the attempt as one small step at curbing carbon emissions. Last summer, The Star in Toronto told of a man on a personal mission against drive-throughs because of their contribution to increased carbon emissions – by his calculation – some 118 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants annually for this city’s 29 drive-throughs.

Carl Spackler reporting for duty.  The Spokane Parks Department has a ground squirrel problem at the Finch Arboretum, and they’re calling in the big guns - more like the big explosion.  In what is being called the most humane way to take care of the infestation, the Parks department will use Rodenator Pro - essentially a giant underground shock wave that kills the pests and collapses their tunnels (burying alive those that don’t die instantly from the shock wave).  But is it the most humane way?  Not according to a Spokesman-Review story commenter who left the link to a Colorado-based company that would suck the rodents out of the ground with a giant vacuum and let them free in the wild.  That sounds better than the shock and awe treatment.  Anyone else? 

Eastern Washington water stories hit The New York Times.  Two seperate regional water-issue stories were published in The New York Time last week - Industrial farms could leave eastern Wash. with dry wells, and Wash.’s Yakima Basin storage project dies — or does it?  In both of the stories, the work of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy is on full display.  The Center was founded in 1993 to serve as a voice for the public interest water resource management and preservation in Washington state.

Shoreline Master Plan

When it comes to environmental news, it seems like Spokane County can’t escape controversy. (See wastewater and racetrack more recently.) On February 24th, the County will hold a public hearing on the Shoreline Master Plan that has been justly criticized for reducing waterway protection. 

The Lands Council and Futurewise are urging citizens to take reasonable action, and voice your opinion. On their respective sites, the non-profit organizations set up clear methods to thoughtfully comment on the plan. A few quick points from the Lands Council on the “top things to tell the commissioners”:

*The Planning Commission are volunteers who have the community’s interest in mind. Tell the county that the Planning Commission recommendations should be given greater consideration, especially the High Quality Area designations that will improve protections for water quality and rivers, streams, and lakes.

* The proposed shoreline master program will reduce buffers on rivers from 250 feet to 50 feet. Tell the county to adequately protect wetlands, rivers, and streams by either using the buffers and other provisions from the county’s critical areas regulations within shoreline jurisdiction or adopting buffers that are as protective as the critical areas regulations in the shoreline master program. This is necessary to protect the water quality of rivers, streams, wetlands, and lakes.

Green Economy Part 1

Photobucket Welcome to a DTE mini-series on the economy. This isn’t going to be too high-concept, since we’re armchair economists at best, but we firmly believe that a way out of this downturn is in the possibility of clean-energy and green-collar jobs. The following posts will seek to highlight examples of innovative thinking and what we can learn from other cities as it pertains to Spokane in terms of sustainable practices and a potential economic revival. Let’s start with our neighbors to the east: Missoula. Members of the Greenhouse Gas and Energy Conservation Team are trying to help the city launch a clean energy project that calls for selling “renewable energy certificates,” which would help subsidize construction costs in the community. “It’s really low risk. There’s no investment involved. There’s minimal expense. And there’s a potential for some revenues to be generated,” said Brian Kerns, a member of the Conservation Team, in the Missoulian.

Lands Council Quarterly Open House

There’s no denying it: Tonight’s weather is going to be miserable but you will still see many people out on the downtown streets because it’s the First Friday Artwalk in Spokane and it’s always a good time. Be sure to check out The Lands Council offices from 5-7pm at 25 W. Main, 2nd Floor. You’ll learn about their work to reduce childhood lead poisoning in Spokane with an interactive display and see the art of Jillian Foster.