by Cara Gardner

Litter Bugs -- SPOKANE -- Highway drivers throughout Washington state are litterbugs, according to the Department of Ecology. The amount of trash that's being collected by youth crews who clean up litter along the highways of Washington state is increasing. In 2003, youth crews picked up 9 million pounds of litter -- 41 blue whales' worth -- along Washington's highways. That's two million more pounds than the previous year.

"Judging from the amount of litter picked up in 2003, people still don't get it," says Gary Lambacher, manager of the Ecology Youth Corp program in Spokane. Cigarette butts are, of course, the most common item discarded from cars; Ecology research estimates that about 260 million cigarette butts are littered each year. In addition to the obvious highway wastes like plastic wrappers, fast food containers and debris from unsecured loads, Ecology says some of the most unpleasant litter youth crews deal with is human waste, tossed by drivers too impatient to pull into a rest stop.

Youth crews can be spotted throughout the summer all over Washington state picking up litter. Ecology wants to reminds motorists to slow down when they see crews at work. Under the state's "Litter and it will Hurt" campaign, tickets for littering range from $103, for unsecured loads or fast food wrappers, to more than $1,000, for potentially hazardous litter such as lit cigarette butts and human waste.

Fab Farming -- PRIEST RIVER, Idaho -- Many of us frequent the farmer's markets during the summer to enjoy all the delish local produce, but rarely do we get to see the actual farms our food comes from. Enter Rural Roots, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people to their diets and encouraging sustainable farming. Based in Moscow, Idaho, Rural Roots has been supporting and promoting local farming since 1997. Part of their work includes taking people on tours of local farms. The next one coming up is a tour through Four Seasons Farm on Sunday, July 18.

"They're a small, diversified family farm located between Priest River and Sandpoint," says Jennifer Farley, Rural Roots Communications Coordinator. "[The owners] sell custom pork, flowers, eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables at the Pend Oreille Valley Farmer's Market in Newport Valley," which is open on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm.

Toni and Ron Carey, owners of the farm, will take visitors through their gardens and pastures to learn about production methods and see how they rotationally graze their livestock.

"The main purpose is to create healthy, vibrant and sustainable food-based systems in the Inland Northwest and promote education about those systems," Farley says. "We help small acreage farmers in marketing by connecting them with the right people."

The Four Seasons Farm tour will be held on Sunday, July 1, from 2:30 pm-4:30 pm. Guests must pre-register by Friday, July 16; call 208-883-3462 or visit Tickets are $8 for members; $10 for non-members.

Good Gaming -- AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -- The Kalispel Tribe is hosting a workshop on responsible gaming for the Inland Northwest community from Tuesday, July 20, to Thursday, July 22. Due to state studies showing that Washington had between 144,600 and 270,900 "pathological" gamblers, and that at least five percent of the state's population has or has had a gambling problem at some point, the Tribe set out to address the issue.

"It is our responsibility to do everything we can to help problem gamblers and their families recognize that there is help out there," says Ricki Haugen, behavioral health director for the Camas Institute, a Tribe-run organization with the objective of encouraging physical and spiritual health. The institute also runs a responsible gaming program for problem gamblers, which includes support for families of problem gamblers, self-barring programs at Northern Quest Casino and staff training at the casino.

The workshop is for healthcare workers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, educators, tribal employees and other human service professionals.

The Responsible Gaming workshop will be held from Tuesday, July 20, to Thursday, July 22, from 8 am-5 pm each day (with a lunch break) at Gonzaga University Law School in the Barbieri Moot Court Room. To register, call 343-4179 or the Camas Institute at (800) 561-7714.

Publication date: 07/15/04

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