History and Timeline

The Lands Council was inaugurated in 1983 at Sacred Heart and Deaconess Medical centers by a group of resident physicians committed to protecting wildlands in the St. Joe and Clearwater River regions of north Idaho. Our mission and scope of work expanded to include the protection and restoration of forest ecosystems, and rivers and lakes, primarily in north Idaho and eastern Washington, as well as northwestern Montana and northeastern Oregon. From our beginning we advocated for citizen participation in, and oversight of, decisions impacting our environment.

We were one of the first Forest Watch groups in the country and we taught citizens how to challenge bad logging projects and successfully reduced clear cutting by 80% in our region. TLC was hard line, zero cut, no compromise. We helped start, and led the National Forest Protection Alliance, which advocated an end to commercial logging. We also played a part in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designating much of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River as a Superfund site, which we called the Get the Lead Out Campaign.

  • In the 1990’s, we reduced clearcutting and roadbuilding on our regions National Forests by over 80%
  • We helped secure funding for an aquifer study of the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.
  • We met with over a thousand rural residents and written 125 wildfire protection plans to help those people prepare for wildfire.
  • We created the Get The Lead Out program to address mining contamination issue.
  • We contributed to the efforts that resulted in the Clinton Roadless plan to protect roadless areas on National Forests.
  • In 2001 we reached an agreement reached between The Lands Council (TLC) and Kettle Range Conservation Group (KRCG) and the U.S. Forest Service, to protect endangered grizzly bears and woodland caribou in northeastern Washington
  • We completed a study on natural water storage and began our Beaver Solution program that has relocated over 75 beaver
  • We helped create a plan to improved dissolved oxygen and removed PCB’s from the Spokane River
  • In 2015 we build 3 storm gardens in Spokane to keep contaminated stormwater from the Spokane River, using biochar
  • Since 2002 we have helped establish collaborative groups on three National Forests and found common goals in protecting new Wilderness areas as well as improved forest management.
  • To protect the Spokane River we helped pass a statewide phosphorus ban on dishwasher soap and lawn fertilizers.
  • As part of the Spokane River Toxics Task Force we are leading the country in eliminating PCB’s from products.
  • Since 2005, we have informed thousands of people, one by one, about eating contaminated fish in the Spokane River.
  • We created public support for a comprehensive Coeur d’Alene Lake Management Plan
  • Participated in the Spokane climate change task force and created a Sustainability Action Plan for the city
  • Established a campaign to reduce the coal and oil trains travelling through our region
  • We work to protect and grow our native Ponderosa Pine forest in the Spokane, in 2012, we planted 10,000 pine in one day.
  • Starting in 2009 we have recruited almost over a thousand community volunteers to plant over 20,000 native trees and remove invasive species along the Spokane River and Hangman Creek
  • To enable more tree planting and maintenance we established Project Greensleeves with the Geiger Correctional Institute
  • Since 2005, our environmental health program has educated over 12,000 at-risk members of our community about the dangers of exposure to toxins in the Spokane River and other waste sites
  • In 2008, we initiated a lead education/screening project to protect at-risk youth in our community from lead poisoning. Since the project’s inception, we educated over 1,600 families in Spokane neighborhoods and tested over 800 children for lead.
  • We have so far protected old growth on Mt. Spokane by challenging a ski area expansion and winning twice in court.
  • For over a decade, the monthly magazine Transitions was published by Dr. John Osborn
  • Restoring Hangman, Coulee and Deep Creek that flow into the Spokane River
  • Project Sustain takes students out of doors and teach conservation issues such as water quality and watershed restoration
  • Project Green Sleeves has us using Geiger Correctional Facility offenders to plant trees, weed, water, start a plant nursery, and help with our stormwater project
  • Participated in a collaboration which reached an agreement to take out Sullivan Creek Millpond dam