Conservation Camo: A Peek Behind the Green Curtain
by Kathy Rose
In light of the recent lack of communications surrounding the Clagstone Conservation Easement, you need to know about the Greater Sandpoint Greenprint.
Haven’t heard of the Greenprint? We didn’t hear about the Clagstone Easement until the 11th hour, either. At a Commissioner’s meeting in early February 2016, Kurt Pavlat of the BLM gave an update. The Greater Sandpoint Greenprint was listed on the agenda, but the subject was only mentioned in passing, and questions were referred to the Idaho Conservation League (ICL).
Several Bonner County citizens met down with Susan Drumheller (ICL), Aaron Qualls of Sandpoint, Erik Brubaker of Ponderay, and Eric Grace of Kaniksu Land Trust. Here’s what was revealed.
In 2014, the Trails Commission hosted a meeting where speakers from the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) were featured. The TPL included an explanation of the Greenprint concept and many of those on the Trails Commission felt this would be beneficial for the Sandpoint area.
The ICL and the TPL implemented a survey in the Fall of 2014 and approximately 560 responses were received. Based on the results, it appears the answer choices were limited to ranking the importance of some handpicked items. The results were categorized: 1. most important regional values, 2. iconic natural resources, 3. most important places and features to preserve, and 4. strategies for growing the economy and retaining local culture.
It is plain that this was designed to focus on regional cooperation. Even though Ponderay, Sandpoint, and Dover were an integral part of the steering committee, only one member represented the county. Yet the Greenprint encompasses East Hope, Hope, Kootenai, Selle Valley, Samuels, Elmira, Laclede, Sagle, and Cocolalla.
The steering committee met 4 times in 2015. Facilitated by the TPL, the committee decided on the top four areas for prioritizing: 1. maintain water quality, 2. provide recreation, 3. protect wildlife habitat, and 4. preserve working lands.
Using a geographic information system (GIS), each parameter was mapped separately and then the committee chose how to weigh each one in order to combine them to develop one integrated map. The Greenprint prioritizes areas for conservation. It was stated that it will be used by land trusts to decide which properties and land owner to approach. Working with land trusts is voluntary, but there are incentive based conservation measures.
A major goal in the action plan is to incorporate the Greenprint into city and county government planning documents. It is presented as just a reference tool, but where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. The final map and action plan are due out later this Spring.
Some comments from the steering committee meeting minutes were quite concerning:
“…that it could help with preventing sprawl.”
“…the plan can be framed in terms of what we’d like to see in 100 years.”
“…the final online (interactive) version of the Greenprint that will drill down to the parcel level will not be public; it will be password protected and only available to project partners…”
“…the survey was not totally representative because urban residents were over-sampled.”
Overall, this shows the typical pattern
- Rushing through the process
- Use of a survey to give people a sense of participation
- Limited survey scope
- A push toward regionalizing
- TPL facilitating this process and the character of the survey further appears to be the Delphi technique.
- “Incorporating” into government documents is only the next step. No clear future plan revealed.
- It shows all the aspects of Agenda 2030 (aka Agenda 21).
- Clagstone was also facilitated by TPL, developed on under the radar accompanied by patronizing apologies.
- According to Senator Keough, Clagstone is only one of 6 conservation projects currently in development.
- Greenprint has been in the works for almost two years and now it is being finalized with little scrutiny.
- The “priorities” identified on the Greenprint are no surprise, everyone in Bonner County knows that Lake Pend Oreille, the Pack River, the creeks that feed them, the fertile valley, recreation, etc. are a priority.
- Conservation for recreation is an empty promise. Usually it is offered with great restrictions/conditions that can change in the future.
- Locking up land in a conservation easement eliminates all future rights to newly discovered resources such as minerals.
- Would we need more recreation land if Idaho took back its lands?
- As we try to get back the use, management, and ownership of our lands, conservation groups funded by NGO’s such as the Trust for Public Lands are enticing private land owners to sell their rights, piece by piece.
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