If there’s one thing we notice in the KEA office, it is that the days on the calendar keep flying at us. Every day is a new challenge. In the brief respite afforded by a slightly less frantic holiday week, here is a compilation of things we’ll be watching as the new year unfolds.
1. Dike Road Trees — At some point in 2012, we’re likely to learn the fate of the trees lining Rosenberry Drive. With our lawsuit, we’re hopeful that the order to remove the trees can be overturned. With our petition drive, we hope we get high-level attention from DC decision-makers. But there are other possibilities too — the City could find an alternative process or engineer a solution to allow the trees to remain on the dike. Removing the trees, we hope, is not an option in 2012.
2. Tubbs Hill — 2012 could bring wheelchair accessibility to the great Tubbs Hill. An ad hoc committee, meeting through the fall developed a consensus agreement to recommend accessibility upgrades to the east-side trail which would allow wheelchairs to access the lake views and forest experience that make the hill so spectacular.
3. Bonner County — The more extreme leanings of the Bonner County government will be further exposed early in the new year. The County Commissioners are taking aim at the designation of critical habitat for the Selkirk caribou. And the bizarre Property Rights Council is taking aim at drinking water protections. It remains to be seen whether these efforts will amount to anything more than rhetorical bluster, but the overt targeting of important environmental protections is most worrisome.
4. Forests — In early 2012, we expect to see a brand new draft forest plan for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The long-delayed and much anticipated plan will guide forest management for years. The new plan will address how the US Forest Service will protect wildlife habitat, watersheds, old growth forests and roadless areas. Or not.
5. Hayden Lake Project — Last summer’s successful launch of a floating treatment wetland will, we hope, lead to many more launches this summer. KEA hopes that our innovative hands-on approach to water quality improvement catches on.
6. The Legislature — as always, the new year signals that the State legislature is preparing to reconvene. With education and healthcare issues expected to dominate the headlines, and with a state budget significantly less dire than past years, perhaps the anti-environment mischief will be minimized this year. It’s tough to keep track of the day-to-day dealings of legislators from Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, so we’ll count on our friends at Idaho Conservation League to follow the machinations from their Boise offices.
7. Kootenai County Land Use Code — By the end of 2012, Kootenai County is likely to have completed the important modernization of land use and development codes. The code, which will govern development for at least a decade, has the potential to reduce controversy and increase protection of the County’s critical natural and scenic resources.
8. Community Roots — new Roots organizer Kara Carleton takes over our successful local food program this year. This year, Roots hopes to double the productivity at our charitable CSA in Dalton Gardens while expanding educational and outreach programs, continuing the cooperative efforts with Shared Harvest Community Garden, and maintaining our local food share program which has distributed almost 30,000 pounds of local fresh food to food assistance facilities in Coeur d’Alene.
9. Sustaining KEA — 2012 will be KEA’s 40th year. As the oldest conservation non-profit in Idaho, Kootenai Environmental Alliance has an extraordinary track record, so sustaining the organization in order to continue the work remains a priority. Our members and supporters have been generous with membership contributions and donations, even in these challenging economic times, but larger grants from shrinking foundations are much harder to come by. Raising the necessary funding is always hard work. Meanwhile, some 40 public events were on last year’s KEA calendar, and this year’s calendar is already filling up. Our annual meeting is coming up within the month, our 2nd annual Earth Gala just over the horizon after that. And, as always, there are “Lunch and Learn” meetings to schedule, newsletters to publish, and websites to improve…
10. What else? Well, we look forward to the new year when we’ll find out.