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Recent Press:

For Immediate Release: April 14, 2015
Contact: Kerry McHugh, Washington Environmental Council, 206.902.7555,
kerry@wecprotects.org

Updated Oil Transportation Safety Bill Passes State House

Bill passes with bipartisan support; now heads back to Senate for concurrence

OLYMPIA, WA – Today and for the second time this session, the Washington House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation designed to modernize our oil transportation safety system and improve transparency with a vote of 58-40. The bill (SB 5057) now moves to the State Senate for concurrence. 

The policy measures in the updated bill were derived from a robust study and public input process last year, and the policies have benefitted from a broad base of support from local elected officials, emergency responders, tribes, and environmental groups. It bears the number of a bill previously supported by the oil industry, but it has been strengthened to reflect the key elements originally put forth by the Governor. 

 "As the Senate considers this bill, I hope they remember the Spokane area school children, hospital patients, and those who live and work near the busy rail lines carrying oil trains with potentially volatile cargo," said Spokane City Council Member Candace Mumm. "Giving our local governments and first responders the information to plan prevention and response is a basic first step in protecting our communities. Information is our best defense against a potential disaster."

Urgency around strong action on oil transport has increased over the last couple of years, with derailments and explosions happening across North America, most recently in West Virginia and Ontario, and pipeline spills in Montana and Michigan.

"This bill is a commonsense step towards updating our laws to reflect reality – oil trains moving through our state and oil tankers carrying tar sands and Bakken crude over our waters," said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. "The House has passed these urgently needed policies with bipartisan support twice. Delay on the part of the Senate is unacceptable."

Key components of the bill include:

·         Comprehensive reporting on the volume and type of oil transported, oil spills, and other information that will be given to first responders and that the public can easily access through a new website.

·         Directing rulemaking to adopt proven oil spill prevention measures like tug escorts for ships carrying oil in the most vulnerable areas of Puget Sound.

·         Authorizing the state to inspect rail crossings and push for repairs to degraded rail infrastructure.

·      

   Financial protections to ensure that the companies carrying dangerous crude oil shipments through our region, not taxpayers, can pay for response after any size of spill or accident.

·         Requiring oil companies to pay for increased oil spill prevention, paredness, and response needs.

Oil Transportation Safety Now is one of the 2015 Environmental Priorities.

###


Media Advisory, April 1, 2015

 

Contacts:

Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org

Shawn Cantrell, (206) 508-5475, scantrell@defenders.org

Mike Petersen, (509) 209-2406, mpetersen@landscouncil.org

Danielle Moser, (313) 550-4900, dmoser@endangered.org

Chase Gunnell, (206) 465-8591, chase@conservationnw.org

 

Wolf OR-7 Film Screening, Panel Discussion Set for Spokane's Bing Crosby Theater, Friday and Saturday Night

 

Event to Highlight Wolf Recovery, Coexistence

 

SPOKANE, Wash.- A documentary about the gray wolf who trekked hundreds of miles across Oregon and became the first wild wolf in California in nearly 90 years will be screened Friday and Saturday in Spokane. The film, OR7 - The Journey, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and panel discussion with some of the nation's leading authorities on wolf recovery and successfully coexisting with wolves. 

 

The film details the ongoing legacy of OR-7, a young, male gray wolf born in northeast Oregon who traveled more than 1,000 miles to southwest Oregon and California, prompting California to protect wolves as endangered. The documentary describes not only the remarkable journey of OR-7 across Oregon's spectacular wild landscapes, but the ongoing fight for gray wolves to fully recover and achieve sustainable populations in their historic territory.

Though wolves once ranged widely across the United States, they were nearly eradicated in the lower 48 by the early 20th century. Only now are they making a comeback in some parts of the country thanks to the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act and wolf recovery efforts in the states. Wolves have started to return to Washington, and the post-film panel discussion and Q&A are designed to provide information, updates, and details about how members of the public can stay informed and get involved.


WHAT: Film screening of the documentary OR7 - The Journey, followed by Q&A with the filmmaker and a panel discussion with representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, The Lands Council, Conservation Northwest and the Endangered Species Coalition. These groups will also be available in the lobby to provide information and answer questions.

 

WHEN: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

 

WHERE: Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave, Spokane, Wash., 99201

 

COST: $7.50 (plus small handling fee if tickets purchased in advance online). Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online at www.bingcrosbytheater.com or at www.ticketswest.com. This event is sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, The Lands Council and Conservation Northwest.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is a national conservation organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife has over 1.3 million members and supporters nationwide. 

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect our nation's disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places. 

The Lands Council is a regional conservation group that safeguards Inland Northwest forests, water, and wildlife through advocacy and community engagement. 

"Keeping the Northwest wild" since 1989, Conservation Northwest protects, connects and restores old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to the B.C. Rockies: vital to a healthy future for us, our children, and wildlife.

 


Court: Endangered Selkirk caribou critical habitat must be revisted

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- In response to a lawsuit from a coalition of six conservation organizations, a federal court on Monday ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its 2013 decision to reduce by 90 percent its designation of critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Selkirk Conservation Alliance, The Lands Council, Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife, and were represented by attorney Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West.

Full story


Press Release

March 18, 2015              For Immediate Release

Contacts:         John Roskelley:  john@johnroskelley.com

                        Fayette Krause, fkrause@olympus.net

                        Greg Gordon, Spokane Audubon Society, fightingbull63@gmail.com

                        Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, mpetersen@landscouncil.org

Today, world renowned mountain climber and former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley, Fayette Krause, former Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy, Spokane Audubon Society, and the Lands Council filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court, challenging the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission land use classification decision and approval of ski area expansion in Mount Spokane State Park.  The decision was made on November 20, 2014 on a split vote. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that the land in the PASEA provides crucial habitat for wildlife. 

John Roskelley, who served on the Washington State Growth Management Board said "Mt. Spokane State Park belongs to all the citizens of the state of Washington, not just to one small user group of skiers from the Spokane area for less than four months a year. Their politicized decision to classify critical wildlife habitat and an intact old growth forest on the northwest slopes of Mt. Spokane as recreation and authorize 280 acres of clear-cuts and logging damage to this irreplaceable alpine area fails to follow the Commission's mission."   

"This expansion will permanently destroy some of the best northern goshawk habitat in Spokane County, and fragment a native old growth forest that has stood for over two centuries," said Greg Gordon of the Spokane Audubon Society.

David Bricklin, Bricklin and Newman LLP (bricklin@bnd-law.com), and attorney for the plaintiffs said "Classifying these rare, old growth forests for recreational purposes is not allowed.  The Commission ignored its own regulations and policies which preclude a ski area classification for lands with high natural resource values" citing Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Policy on Protecting Washington State Parks Natural Resources (Policy 73-04-1), Policy E.1.:

Areas of a park containing natural resources of regional or statewide significance, unusual and/or sensitive habitats (e.g., bald eagles), or a species of concern should be classified restrictively to allow only low-intensity uses and minor facilities development. 

Fayette Krause has been instrumental in the preservation of forests in the State Parks system.  The Parks Commission approved his recommendations for the first nine State Park forests to be designated as Natural Forest Areas.  Fayette Krause said "I urge that all areas at Mount Spokane State Park identified in the Washington Natural Heritage Program's 1993 report, including the proposed expansion area, be fully protected and designated as Natural Forest Areas."

-30-


Press Release 
For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015

Contact:

John Mellgren, Western Law Environmental Center, (541) 359-0990

Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406

Timothy Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667

Bethany Cotton, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 327-4923


Conservationists Challenge Wildlife Services' Authority to Kill Wolves in Washington

Wildlife Services Activities Threaten Wolf Recovery, Healthy Ecosystems

Olympia, Wash. - Today, the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of five conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services program challenging its authority to kill endangered wolves in Washington state.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires USDA to prepare an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addressing the effects of employing Wildlife Services to kill endangered wolves in Washington. The agency completed a less-detailed Environmental Assessment (EA), but the document contains significant gaps and does not address specific issues that will significantly impact wolves and the human environment. NEPA review is designed to ensure all environmental impacts are analyzed and that the public has an opportunity to comment, and therefore influence, activities conducted using public funds.

The EA prepared by Wildlife Services fails to provide data to support several of its core assertions. For example, Wildlife Services claims that killing wolves reduces wolf-caused losses of livestock, yet recent peer-reviewed research from Washington State University directly contradicts this conclusion, finding that killing wolves actually leads to an increase in wolf-livestock conflicts. The EA also fails to address the ecological effects of killing wolves in Washington, including impacts on wolf populations in neighboring states and on non-target animals, including federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.

"Wildlife Services' activities related to wolves in Washington have been extremely harmful," said John Mellgren, attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. "The science tells us that killing wolves does not actually reduce wolf-livestock conflicts, but Wildlife Services is continuing its brutal assault on this iconic animal and it needs to stop."

Wildlife Services is a stand-alone federal extermination program under USDA that kills roughly 4 million animals per year, including wolves, grizzly bears, otters, foxes, coyotes, and birds-with almost no oversight or accountability. A 2013 internal audit revealed that Wildlife Services' accounting practices lacked transparency and violated state and federal laws. Concerns about the program's practices and effectiveness are the focus of an ongoing investigation by the USDA's Inspector General.

Washington has experienced Wildlife Services' recklessness firsthand. Last August, Wildlife Services' snipers mistakenly shot and killed the Huckleberry wolf pack's alpha female during a helicopter gunning operation. The killing was in direct violation of explicit instructions from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to not kill either of the pack's alpha members. The death of the Huckleberry pack's breeding female threatens the future of the entire pack.

Wildlife Services also ‘advised' WDFW in the contentous 2012 killing of Washington's Wedge wolf pack. In that instance, WDFW killed seven wolves after depredations of livestock on public lands, despite the rancher's failure to take sufficient action to protect his cattle.

"Wildlife Services' refusal to ensure its activities are based on the best available science strips the public of an opportunity to meaningfully understand and contribute to decisions impacting the health of ecosystems on which we all depend," said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. "Its past time that the dark practices of Wildlife Services are subjected to the sunshine of a transparent public process."

Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The species began to return to Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and the wolf population in the state has grown to 13 confirmed packs. Despite this growth, wolves in the state are far from recovered and face ongoing threats-including the threat of being shot and killed by Wildlife Services.

Western Environmental Law Center is representing the following organizations in the lawsuit: Cascadia Wildlands, WildEarth Guardians, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense, and The Lands Council.

###


Press Release: February 17, 2015

Oil Transportation Safety Now bill Advances in State House 

Urgency for bill increased with derailment and explosion of oil trains in West Virginia, Ontario

OLYMPIA, WA –Today, the House Environment Committee voted the Oil Transportation Safety Now bill out of committee.  The bill is prime sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell and Sen. Christine Rolfes.

This bill is supported by a broad range of local elected officials, emergency responders, health care providers, and environmental groups.

"Oil trains are already traveling under downtown Seattle and along Puget Sound. We need to pay attention to the risks to our communities," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I ask the legislature to take swift action on this bill." 



Press Release: 2/15/15

Today an oil train in West Virginia derailed and exploded, spilling oil into the Kanawha River and setting the nearby area on fire. In response Washington Environmental Council, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Lands Council issued the following statement:

"Today's derailment and explosion in West Virginia shows how dangerous oil transportation can be to our waterways, communities, and livelihoods.

Today's accident puts the drinking water and homes of West Virginians on the line and illustrates the frightening risks posed by oil moving through our communities. 

Here in Washington, we have an opportunity to modernize and address current gaps in our oil transportation safety system by passing a bill that takes action on public disclosure and oil spill prevention and response needs (HB 1449 / SB 5087). In addition, the state should not allow more oil to come through our region, increasing the risks of spills and derailments, by saying no to the terminal proposals in Grays Harbor and Vancouver.

Today's events are a tragedy and a warning. It's up to us to do what we can to protect our state."

###


Thursday, January 29, 2015 

Snowshoes and science

Mountain becomes classroom on water quantity for Post Falls students


MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK, Wash. - For T'ariq Arp, the mile-long trek up the side of a mountain here on Wednesday was well worth the exercise.

The mountain and its snowpack became the classroom for Post Falls High teacher Cindy Rust's Honors Biology class, which is studying snow science from runoff to avalanche danger.

"At least you're not sitting in a classroom learning from a PowerPoint presentation," said Arp, a sophomore, taking a break from collecting data. "A lot of us haven't been snowshoeing. Some students are hands-on, so this field trip helps them understand what's taught in the classroom better."

Read full article


January 22, 2015

Students snowshoe Mount Spokane, learn of safety, snowpack

 The Spokesman-Review

Their breath caught in clouds of frosty air, but the frigid temperatures didn't chill the enthusiasm of the 21 students from the Community School, as they gathered at Mount Spokane last week for a snowshoeing adventure.

This is the third year Kat Hall, conservation programs director for the Lands Council, has taken students to Mount Spokane to learn about winter safety and the importance of the snowpack in our region.

The field trip is part of Project Sustain, the Lands Council's environmental education program. "The point is for the kids to realize the snow they're digging in and throwing at their friends, will eventually be the water they put their canoes in on the river," Hall said.

Read full story


Long Lake pollution study worries Suncrest residents

The Spokesman-Review

Andy Gendaszek dove into the shallow water along Long Lake's shoreline earlier this week, targeting dark, weedy areas downstream from housing developments.

When he emerged, the U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist was grasping handfuls of pondweed.

Read full article


OUTDOORS - The spokesman review - rich landers

Field reports: Mount Spokane land classifications affect ski area expansion

PARKS – Land classification proposals that could make or break plans to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday in Bellingham.

The outdoors can be a bit hard to tame - but for restoration ecologist Joe Cannon, that's part of why it's worth preserving



July 6, 2014 
 The Spokesman-Review

South End Project aims to enlarge ATV access while protecting Colville National Forest land

For years, human activity has trashed the pristine ecosystem of Phillips Lake.

Campsites are strewn with human waste and beer cans. Signs and fences have been shot, pushed to the ground or stolen for firewood. Graffiti tags the boulders that rise high above the lake and reappears after every time it's cleaned off.

Read full article


June 11, 2014 by  The Spokesman-Review

Rules sought for conflicts over wolves

Northeast Washington ranchers have begun moving their cattle to remote Forest Service meadows, where many of the herds will spend the summer grazing in territory occupied by the state's growing wolf population.

With a high potential for conflicts, eight environmental groups have petitioned state officials to create rules that would place limits on killing wolves that attack livestock.

Read full article


March 6, 2014
The Spokesman-Review

Confluence Project lets science students get outdoors


MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK – Cass Hansen's head just crested the top of a snow pit that she and other Post Falls High School students dug on Wednesday.

The snow depth was 161 centimeters, almost as tall as Hansen's height of 5 feet 3 inches.

Digging through the first couple feet of snow was easy for the honors biology students, but they soon hit layers of harder, crustier material.

Full story



December 2,2013

Finch Arboretum creek to be restored for redband trout

The Spokesman-Review

A small creek that flows the length of John A. Finch Arboretum will soon become a better home for fish.

But that will require removing some structures built in an attempt to beautify the park.

Spokane's city parks department and several other groups will restore portions of Garden Springs Creek with the help of a $154,000 state Department of Ecology grant.

The natural creek, fed by springs above Finch Arboretum, flows through the city park, along a neighborhood, under two freeways and over a small waterfall before meeting Latah Creek near the 11th Avenue Bridge.

Full story




October 23, 2013

by BREANNA ROY & KREM.com

Posted on October 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM


The Lands Council's Green Sleeves project aims to make a difference for offenders and for the environment

KREM 2's Breanna Roy reports on our Green Sleeves project.

read full story


October 8, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Spokane stormwater gardens may help both river, city

A $30,000 contract with the Lands Council may help the city of Spokane siphon off some of the potential $350 million cost of separating and treating stormwater runoff.

It's a pittance, but if successful could be one of several steps the city hopes will whack $100 million off that treatment bill.

read full article



October 3, 2013

Shadle-area stormwater gardens will filter runoff

The Spokesman-Review

 The city is contracting with the Lands Council on a pilot stormwater management project in the Shadle area.

We are pretty excited about this," said Mike Peterson, executive director of the Lands Council. It's the first time the council, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the quality of life and the environment in the Inland Northwest has contracted with the city.

read full article






For three decades, The Lands Council has worked to inform and involve the public in preserving and revitalizing Inland Northwest forests, water and wildlife

Click here to learn more about The Lands Council's accomplishments, or explore our Council News newsletter archive to find out more about our work

Main Press Contact: Mike Petersen, Executive Director, 509-209-2406 or mpetersen (at) landscouncil.org




 

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