Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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?
CONSERVATION — A local credit union is linking a promotion to the roots of conservation.
For every member who makes the switch from paper statements to e-statements between April 22 and June 30, STCU will donate the money to plant one treealong Deep Creek, Coulee Creek and Hangman Creek (also called Latah Creek). Work will be done in North Idaho, as well, although exact locations have not been selected.
Up to 400 Inland Northwest high school students will help plant the trees, said Amanda Swan, Lands Council director of development and communications. Students from Mead Alternative School, The Community School, On Track Academy, Lewis and Clark High School, Coeur d’Alene High School and Post Falls High School and St. Maries High School will participate.
“The benefits are in reducing erosion in the watershed,” Swan said. “Tree planting helps stabilize stream banks, reducing sediments and toxics from entering our watersheds and eventually the Spokane River. There’s a public health benefit that goes beyond doing something great for the environment and planting trees.”
PUBLIC LANDS — A pine beetle outbreak that has left many Western states with vast stands of dead and dying trees has eased for the second consecutive year, the U.S. Forest Service says.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that more trees are dying at higher elevations as beetles take advantage of warm winters to gain a new foothold.
And with trees on roughly 42 million acres killed by various beetles since 2000, it could take decades for some forests to fully recover.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sent lamest of lame responses to Terry Harris of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance re: the 4400 signatures collected to save the Dike Road trees: “This is in response to your letter dated Nov 28, which expressed concerns about the planned removal of trees located on the Federally-authorized levee in the city of Coeur d’Alene. I apologize for the delay in responding. I appreciate the importance of this issue to the city and to the members of your organization. In fact, it is a matter of intense interest to many communities and groups across the nation. Because of pending litigation on this issue, I cannot comment further at this time. However, thank you for your letter and for your interest in the Army Civil Works Program.” More here.
Top city officials said they're confident the city will be able to save the trees on the dike, and they weren't giving it any political spin. City Administrator Wendy Gabriel and Mayor Sandi Bloem said they believe they are very close to certifying the flood plain through a third party at the price of around $200,000. That would allow the city to keep most, if not all, of the 500-700 trees the Army Corps of Engineers has ordered removed. Details and meetings will be worked out in the coming months, but Gabriel said the chance at tree-keeping is “very good.” Bloem seemed even more confident/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
“The number of trees on the dike? Exactly 705. The good folks at North Idaho College walked it recently” — TerryatKEA via Twitter.
We lived through a BIG storm in Puget Sound last week: snow, ice, wind and today black ice on the roads.
When talking with friends, the first topic was always, “Got power?” But after that the litany of loss took precedence. And at the top of that list? Trees.
“We lost the apple tree,” friends say wistfully. “Bethy would always go sit in the crook of that tree when she was mad, upset. Now the tree is down and destroyed.” Bethy is now a woman in her mid-twenties.
Trees provide shade, shelter for our creatures and a sense of home. We measure our time through their growth.
The maple tree I gave my husband for Valentine’s Day 18 years ago survived, but lost a branch.
The memorial tree planted after my dad died, didn’t appear to even bend through all the raging weather. Come to think of it, Dad never did either.
(S-R archives photo)
We got the phone call the other day and an email confirmation yesterday, and we’re pleased to say that KEA will be represented on the City of Coeur d’Alene’s new ad hoc committee to deal with the dike road trees. An initial meeting will be scheduled for mid-November. Recall that a Corps of Engineers inspection is calling for removal of the 500 mature trees along the levee between North Idaho College and the waterfront. KEA has initiated a petition drive calling on the Corps to review its levee vegetation policy as applied here in Coeur d’Alene. Along with KEA, appointees to the committee include representatives from North Idaho College, the Centennial Trail, Fort Grounds homeowners, the 4-Counties Natural Resources Committee, Councilman John Bruning, and State Senator John Goedde/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here. (KEA Blog photo)
Question: Are you satisfied with the representation on the Dike Road tree committee?
In “other business” tonight, the Coeur d'Alene City Council will discuss formation of a Dike Road ad hoc committee, to fight the demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear cut trees, including viewtiful ponderosas, along Rosenberry Drive (b/n the waterfront & North Idaho College). After much uproar, some City Council members have shifted position from reluctant acceptance of the demand to opposition. Many in the community are dead set against cutting the trees as a possible deterrent to a major flood. The army corps has received much criticism in communities around the West, including Sacramento, Calif., for issuing a one-size-fits-all demand to remove trees from flood-prevention levees. The corps maintains that the tree roots weaken the levee. But a study it conducted sez that they sometimes don't. Meanwhile, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance has collected 3,000 signatures in opposition to removing the trees. You can read the council's agenda for tonight's meeting here. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)
Question: Have you signed a petition in opposition to tree removal, either on line or in person?
A new study by the Army Corps of Engineers says that trees growing on levees can strengthen the flood-control structures in some circumstances, but indicated that results vary by soil type, climate conditions and levee design. “These results cannot be generalized to apply to every levee system,” said Maureen Corcoran, an Army Corps research geologist. Trees and their root systems can either increase or decrease levee safety, she said, and must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. The city of Coeur d’Alene learned this year that hundreds of mature ponderosa pine trees growing along Rosenberry Drive, also known as “the dike road,” don’t comply with the corps’ national levee standards/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: Any guesses re: how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will respond now that the city of Coeur d'Alene has decided not to be bullied by the agency to clear-cut Dike Road ponderosas?
More Info: In a procedure that will set up action at the next City Council meeting, Councilman John Bruning made a motion (seconded by Councilman Edinger) that would have the city formally opposing the Corps position, and would set up an ad hoc advisory committee to help the city fight the Corps and protect the trees. The motion passed unanimously setting up final action at the September 20th meeting. Councilman Bruning, reading from prepared remarks, said that the City needed to be clear in its opposition and needs to “draw a line in the sand and say no to a federal agency.”
Question: Is this a signal that the City Council was listening to the community?
Coeur d’Alene isn’t the only community miffed at the loopy demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear-cut viewtiful trees from flood prevention levees. Sacramento, Calif., is, too. The corps, as you may recall, freaked out after Hurricane Katrina, ordering communities to remove trees and vegetation from levees (like the ponderosas on Coeur d’Alene’s waterfront dike road), claiming the vegetation destabilizes them. Cash-strapped California communities and flood agencies could spend millions of dollars removing trees and shoring up levees to meet the corps’ inflexible demand. In an editorial urging the corps to revise its levee policy, the Sacramento Bee pointed to a study conducted by the agency that shows some levees are strengthened, not weakened, by trees. The Bee concludes that corps muckety-mucks should heed the findings of their own study and “develop a more flexible, case-by-case policy for levee maintenance nationwide.” Bingo/DFO, Huckleberries. More here.
Weekend SR columns:
- Eagles prove riffraff can play rough/John Blanchette
- WSU nets $1.8M classic angling book collection/Rich Landers
- Program makes running a family affair/Cindy Hval
- Spokane's Thin Air Radio grows closer to regular air/Jim Kershner
- Federal officials giving tribes more authority/Betsy Z. Russell
- Ugly lights give me a bright idea/Doug Clark
Terry Harris/Kootenai Environmental Alliance has just launched an online petition drive to save the viewtiful ponderosas and other trees along Rosenberry Drive (NIC Dike Road) from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clear-cutting dictate. Petition language reads: “We, the undersigned, object to the levee vegetation policy as currently implemented by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which would result in the removal of hundreds of trees along the Rosenberry Drive levee embankment in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The trees are not a danger to flood control and they provide the city with significant and irreplaceable environmental, aesthetic, and recreational values to our community. We urge your reconsideration of the policy so that we may preserve our trees.” More here. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)
Question: Are you interested in signing and/or circulating the petition?
When it comes to trees and levees, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to revise its one-chainsaw-fits-all policy. A new study by the Corps reveals why. The study, conducted by an Army Corps research unit in Mississippi, examined how trees affect flood-control levees in California, the Pacific Northwest, New Mexico and Mississippi. It found that trees actually strengthen levees in some situations. It also urged that engineers conduct site-specific evaluations to determine if trees on levees are harmful or beneficial, according to a report Saturday by The Bee's Matt Weiser. The Corps didn't need to commission a study to inject some common sense into this debate. But we are glad it did/Sacramento Bee Editorial Board. More here. (SR file photo/Kathy Plonka: Roger Smith, a retired civil engineer from Coeur d'Alene, said the Ponderosa pines in question are an “aesthetic heritage feature” for the city)
Question: Do I sense that momentum is changing in this debate (which includes the Corps of Engineers goofy demand to clear-cut Coeur d'Alene Dike Road trees)?
After years of receiving a passing grade for safety from the Army Corps, our local dike was examined by an independent contractor who found over 100 flaws in the dikes’s structure and then recommended the city should remove all the trees. It’s another Alice in Wonderland moment. First the verdict, and then the trial. The trees must go, but the Army Corps admits there is no scientific evidence to suggest our trees are destabilizing the dike. That’s yet to be determined. Let me be clear. The real, everyday issue is not flood prevention but the prevention of high flood insurance rates. A major flood has not come in the 58 years that my husband, Scott, and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene, and it may not come within our lifetimes/Mary Lou Reed, Inlander. More here. H/T: Terry Harris, KEA Blog
Question: Are you willing to sacrifice the trees along the Dike Road (NIC's Rosenberry Drive) to protect the home insurance rates of Fortgrounds residents?
Terry Harris & his KEA troops have taken their petitions to save the picturesque Dike Road (Rosenberry Drive) ponderosas from a clear-cut U.S. Army Corps of Engineers one-size-fits-all mandate. You can get your copy to download, print out, and circulate to friends here.
The Corps is presently doing some of this research. And with any luck it’ll be done sooner rather than later. Because, as Councilman Mike Kennedy put it last night (to the best of my notes), “It would be a crime to cut down all the trees only to be told the next day that the Corps has changed its policy due to new science.” Given the circumstances, buying as much time as possible is about the only good option for the City of Coeur d’Alene right now. And we’re glad the Council took that approach/Terry Harris. Full post here.
Question: How often do you visit and/or use the area along the Dike Road?
Friends and foes alike listen when the respected Kootenai Environmental Alliance speaks. Sorta like the E.F. Hutton of the enviro world. That’s why the Coeur d’Alene City Council should heed a KEA blog post re: the demand by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to level the picturesque trees along the Dike Road (aka Rosenberry Drive): “An incompetent Corps of Engineers and an inflexible FEMA are about to destroy a Coeur d’Alene treasure unnecessarily. The out-of-town and out-of-control federal agencies are blindly calling for the City of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of mature trees from the dike that follows the lake and riverfront around City Park and North Idaho College”/DFO, Huckleberries, SR. More here.
- Can't write? We'll do the work for you/Doug Clark
- Spokane taking fresh approach/Shawn Vestal
- Burning down the house/Gary Crooks
- Pac-12 networks offer 24-hour break from reality/John Blanchette
- Summer fun with nuns, street kids/Jim Kershner
- Green Job Corps teaches teamwork, entrepreneurship/Cindy Hval
In this photo from KEA Blog, endangered trees are on the left, between Rosenberry Drive & Lake Coeur d'Alene.
An incompetent Corps of Engineers and an inflexible FEMA are about to destroy a Coeur d’Alene treasure unnecessarily. The out-of-town and out-of-control federal agencies are blindly calling for the City of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of mature trees from the dike that follows the lake and riverfront around City Park and North Idaho College. (News coverage here, here, here, and here.) Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s, the dike runs just less than a mile and it purports to protect NIC and the Fort Grounds area from 100-year flood events. The main significance, however, is that the dike protects NIC and the Fort Grounds from unreasonable flood insurance premiums/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here.
Question: Do you agree with KEA Blog that Corps of Engineers is incompetent and FEMA inflexible on the issue involving Dike Road?
Deanna Goodlander: The facts are, that FEMA who are the flood insurance folks have told the Core of Engineers who oversee levees that they must more stringently clear levees in order to make them less inclined to fail. After Katrina and more recently the Mississipi River levee failures they are getting more strict. If we fail to act, the entire fort grounds area will have increased rates and the insurance will not cover the full cost of replacement or repairs. With millions of dollars worth of private property, as well as, the college and wastewater plant the costs and risks will be astronomical. Fortunately even if we have to cut trees they will only be on the slope and the ones on the level can stay. More below.
Before it can compromise, the city of Coeur d'Alene will likely comply. A subcommittee recommended Monday the City Council adopt a mitigation plan to begin removing vegetation and addressing other concerns regarding the levee along Rosenberry Drive in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' March order. “I don't love it,” said Deanna Goodlander, City Council and Public Works Committee member, on moving forward with the plan. “I don't even like it.” The Public Works Committee recommended the City Council adopt the mitigation plan during its Aug. 2 meeting, saying the city's hands were tied because of possible insurance increases for the surrounding neighborhood should it not adhere to the changes/Tom Hasslinger, CdA Press. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: Are you surprised that the city is rolling over on this one?
Item: These trees won't fall easily: Residents hope city will explore all options to keep ponderosa pines/Tom Hasslinger, CdA Press
More Info: Tom Torgerson is one Coeur d'Alene resident who wants the community to crunch its own numbers before even one of the 500 ponderosa pine trees is removed. “I would say I'm cautiously optimistic,” said Torgerson on the chances of success fighting - or at least questioning - the federal findings that rule those trees are a hazard sitting on the dike. “I couldn't sit back and not try.” What's needed, once the Army Corps of Engineers releases its data in the next month, is “an overwhelming abundance of proof that they pose a danger,” he said. That should be determined not just by the federal study, Torgerson said, but with local engineers and arborists studying the same terrain.
Question: Is it wise to get a second opinion on the trees along Coeur d'Alene's Dike Road — to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn't overreacting to problems it has encountered elsewhere?
TomTorg: (re: Corps: Cut trees along NIC Dike Road): The Army Corp of Engineers is demanding the city of CDA cut down all the trees on the dike road as they are a risk to the levee’s failure!!!!!! This must be stopped! Our local leaders are not going to support or agree with this but may have their hands forced! Contact your state and federal (Mike Crapo, Raul Labrador, Mike Simpson and Jim Risch) leaders and demand this idiocy stop!!!!! They made the same decision on the St. Joe and then “pulled back” after they had cut down most of the Cottonwoods. Back off, Feds!
Question: Do you plan to call our Idaho delegation to demand, as TomTorg sez, “this idiocy stop”?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling for the city of Coeur d’Alene to remove hundreds of trees from its levee, which separates North Idaho College and the Fort Grounds neighborhood from Lake Coeur d’Alene. Rosenberry Drive, otherwise known as the “dike road,” draws thousands of people year-round as a place to park when headed to the college or the beach or events like Art on the Green. A section of North Idaho’s Centennial Trail also stretches along the road and is popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. “I don’t think anybody in our community is going to be thrilled about removing 500 trees,” said Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem. “Obviously, we’re going to try to find a solution other than that.” Bloem said city officials are reviewing the Army Corps report and looking for alternatives/Alison Boggs, SR. More here. (SR photo/Kathy Plonka: “I can’t believe they would even think about removing these trees,” said Daryl Rise as he walked with Cristy Hodgkins on the dike road Tuesday at North Idaho College.)
Question: How should the city of Coeur d'Alene handle the Corps of Engineers demand?
The Historic Hillyard Merchants Committee is hosting a yard sale in Hillyard on Saturday, May 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Don't miss this great opportunity to forage for some great deals - and of course you can stop at as many other yard sales as you want on your way to Hillyard.
So the blog wants to know: do you yard sale? Have you ever held one? How did it go? And are there special items you are looking for?
The photo is from the Liberty Lake Yard Sale a couple of years ago
The Abor Day tree give-away in Hillyard was a success. About 1,200 trees were given away during the week of Arbor Day - 400 went to North East Youth Center alone. The remaining trees will be planted in and around Hillyard for everyone to enjoy.
Angel Smith of Sorensen Elementary created this picture to win the annual Coeur d'Alene Parks Department Arbor Day Poster contest for local fifth-graders. Hailey Turner of Skyway Elementary was second, and Emily Palus of Ramsey Elementary was third. This year's theme for the posters was, “What trees mean to me.” The Parks Department received 90 entries.
Question: Are you as good at drawing and art as a fifth-grader?
Hillyard's participation in Arbor Day this week is going somewhat okay - but there are more than 1,000 trees left. Some are White Pine, some are Ponderosa Pine and some are Spruce.
These trees need homes - stop by a participating store and pick one up.
In celebration of Arbor Day, the Historic Hillyard Merchants Committee is giving away a ton of trees. The merchants already have 950 trees ready to give away, and there are 500 more coming… Among them are 200 larger trees specifically designated to children. The trees are given away on a first come first served business. Participating businesses have tree posters in their windows.
Larry Spencer: After doing some more research, I haven't found a requirement that the Idaho forest practice act requires that it be harmonized with the federal law, as I believed yesterday that it did. So my current take is that no, Hart was not legal in taking trees from Idaho forest land but he would have been legal if he had taken them from the federal forest land. More below.
Question: Would you feel better about Rep. Phil Hart if he'd taken trees without paying for them from federal land instead of state endowment lands that support Idaho schools?