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Clean Water Act to be explored Wednesday by Spokane panel

ENVIRONMENT — Local experts will discuss “The Clean Water Act at 40” and its implications to the Spokane River in a public panel discussion Wednesday (Nov. 7), 6 p.m. at The Community Buildling, 35 W. Main St.

“In October of 1972 Congress signed in to law a historic piece of legislation that to this day continues to help clean up and protect the Spokane River,” says Spokane RiverKeeper Bart Mihailovich, sponsor of the event. 

The discussion and public Q&A opportunities will be moderated by Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice and a Clean Water Act expert.

Three panelists from Avista and local and state agencies will discuss a Fishable, Swimmable and Drinkable Spokane River.

Read on for details about the local panelists — and the REFRESHMENTS that will be available.

Regulators let bad idea slip past rules and reason at Coyote Rock

SPOKANE RIVER — Every regulator with a clue seems to agree that plans to build up to 30 docks at the Coyote Rock development are a bad idea for the Spokane River.                

The river has emphasized the sentiment — see photo above — as spring runoff swept around the bend past Plantes Ferry Park, damaged pilings and nearly ripped out the first two docks to be approved.

However, nobody at the city, county or state level seems able to thwart a bad plan and its threats to struggling native redband trout and the area aesthetics.

My column today, “Coyote Rock docks cause howl,” spells out the issue and the importance of the unprecidented upcoming trial before the Washington state Pollution Control Board.

Some paddlers, rafters and anglers are planning to rally with their boats for a play day at Plantes Ferry Park Sunday at noon.

But the real action will start Monday when the Spokane Riverkeeper, Gonzaga Law, and the Center for Justice begin a formal challenge of the permit issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife under the state Hydraulic Code. This is the first appeal before the board of the Hydraulics Project Approval process.

Robert Kennedy Jr. to speak on clean water in Spokane, Sandpoint

CONSERVATION — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an international leader in the cause for clean and healthy waterways, will be in Sandpoint on May 18 and Spokane on May 19 to promote cleaning up and protecting two of the inland Northwest’s signature waterways.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s support for local organizations like the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper and Spokane Riverkeeper is deeply inspiring,” says Jennifer Ekstrom, Lake PendOreille Waterkeeper.

“His presence is clearly a help to our efforts to raise public awareness about the critical issues we work on every day.”

Kennedy will speak at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint  at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 18th. Tickets for the Sandpoint appearance are $15 general, and $5 for students.

On Thursday May 19, he will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in Spokane, where admission will be $17 general and $7 for students. (Spokane tickets include a $2 historic preservation fee.)

Read on for more about Kennedy and his background in water issues and the Riverkeeper projects. 

Barker Bridge squanders river’s potential

SPOKANE RIVER — The City of Spokane Valley and the entire region apparently got short-changed in the $11 million Barker Road Bridge construction project.

City officials turned their backs on citizens and agencies that tried to work from the beginning of the project to improve public access to the river.   As these photos show, the post-construction site is eroded and the river access is even worse that it was BEFORE the city spent $11 million.

Anglers can forget launching a drift boat here.    Now that the City of Spokane Valley is walking away from the project, you need courage just to launch a canoe at Barker Bridge.

Currently there’s room to park on the sides of the bridge, but as the population grows and traffic increases, it’s likely that those parking areas could be eliminated and access rendered virtually impossible.

Is this a way to take advantage of the potential the Spokane River has for improving quality of life and promoting this area as a place to live, work and visit?

I covered this more thoroughly today in my column, Valley’s new Barker Bridge erodes soil, high hopes.   

However, there’s much more to this and the chronic way the city and state agencies – and maybe Avista? —  fail to improve the river and access and the way they fail to even protect what it gives us naturally.

Read on for more details.