Water Needs Air -- SPOKANE - The majority of the Spokane River violates the water-quality standard for dissolved oxygen set by the Department of Ecology, meaning river water doesn't hold enough oxygen to stay healthy.
Today, a public workshop will be held to discuss plans for how best to reduce pollution in the river, and increase the level of dissolved oxygen.
"What we're working on right now is a cleanup plan," says Jani Gilbert, public information officer for Ecology. "We're looking for ways we can increase dissolved oxygen."
The Spokane River is polluted with nutrients like phosphorus, which uses up oxygen and leaves aquatic life literally without enough air to breathe.
"The sources of pollutants can be wastewater plants or storm water collection," Gilbert explains. "They can come from our own gardening practices, by using chemical fertilizers and from pet waste, or letting livestock into a waterway. We'll be looking at all of these sources and coming up with strategies for reducing phosphorous and other nutrients."
Ecology recommends a 50 percent reduction in the amount of phosphorous entering the river.
"We're not actually writing strategies yet," Gilbert explains. "That will take input from the public, and those comments will be taken into consideration."
The plan will include working with the sources of phosphorous, Gilbert says.
The workshop is on June 26, from 9 am-4:15 pm at the Washington Department of Transportation Office, 2714 N. Mayfair St. Call: 456-2926.
Pledging to Fight -- Boise - You probably recited it every day in school without a problem, but the Pledge of Allegiance became a controversial topic last year after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that the pledge's statement "under God" violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Now attorneys general Lawrence Wasden of Idaho and Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma are leading a campaign by the attorneys general from all 50 states asking the Supreme Court to consider the Ninth Circuit's decision.
"For almost 50 years, willing Americans of all ages have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance," Wasden said in a written statement. "Very few of us ever dreamed that a federal court would decide the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes an establishment of religion."
But that's exactly what happened on June 26, 2002, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance violates the rights of atheist Michael Newdow's daughter.
The wording "under God" was added to the pledge in 1954, and all states currently protect students from having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance if it interferes with their beliefs. Wasden says the Ninth Circuit is wrong to rule that the wording violates individuals' rights.
"It's clear," says Bob Cooper, spokesman for the Idaho Attorney General's office, "that the courts have addressed this [issue] on several occasions, and the Ninth Circuit is not in keeping with the precedent."
Kettle Range Revisited -- SPOKANE -- The Kettle Range Conservation Group (KRCG) has been around for more than 25 years, working continuously to preserve the wild and wonderful areas of Washington state. On Tuesday, June 24, the group is hosting an open house for members, politicians and anyone who is interested in hearing about its work.
"It's going to be very informal. Our goal is mainly to reacquaint people with what's going on with the Wild Washington Campaign," says Derrick Knowles, community and forest outreach coordinator for KRCG.
The Wild Washington Campaign is made up of a coalition of 200 businesses and organizations.
"The campaign is working to protect the remaining roadless areas and public forests," says Knowles, adding that the only wilderness area in Eastern Washington is the Salmo-Priest wilderness area, just 3 percent of the entire Colville National Forest.
For those wanting to experience these wilderness areas on their own, the KRCG is hosting a series of hikes, beginning with a free hike and campout around Sherman Pass on June 28.
"This is a great chance to see firsthand the land we are talking about," says Knowles.
The open house is on Tuesday, June 24, from 4:30-7 pm at the KRCG offices in the Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave. Call: 747-1663.