Dave Foreman of Earth First! Visits FLC

Without knowing what to expect when attending the Dave Foreman talk hosted by Fort Lewis College on April 5th, I would have to say I look at the state of the world from an entirely new perspective. Dave Foreman considers himself a conservationist and is co-founder of “Earth First!, an environmental advocacy group based in the Southwest. Earth First! was established by Foreman, Mike Roselle and Howie Wolke in response to an increased awareness of corporate influence on many large environmental advocacy groups. On earthfirst.org, you can find a more complete outline of their movement’s overall goals and their continuing mission to make people aware of the challenges we face as beings on this earth.

For the most part, a lot of the knowledge Dave Foreman shared was nothing new to the audience such as, earth being in its sixth mass extinction, the extinction of passenger pigeons and the human overpopulation conflict. However, if there was one thing I took away from Foreman’s talk, it would have to be his emphasis on human being’s desire to control everything in the natural world. “We are all earthlings,” Foreman said. The best analogy he used was to “think of earth as a 550 page story.” Complex life has only been around for as long as 550 million years and if you put humans in this story of our earth’s history we would be the last sentence of the last page. Yet, within that last sentence we have caused change that should have taken at least a couple chapters. Through our desire to control the nature that we have feared for so long, we consequently have blinded ourselves from what the earth itself needs to survive.

In order for us to have a world in the future that is similar to the one we know at the moment, “we must all become part of the neighborhood,” Foreman said. The heart and soul of the conservation movement, Foreman believes, is “to treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.” All earthlings are part of this world—our neighbors. It is time for us to treat other living things as such.

By Hunter Mallinger

Zach Conde: A Look at the NEW EC Intern and His Projects

My name is Zach Conde and I am doing an internship at the Environmental Center. I have joined the Zero Waste team, and I am working on auditing the Sustainability Action Plan. I started my internship at the beginning of the semester and I have jumped into many great projects and I am already having a blast doing them.

First of all I would like to comment on what a great group of people that are involved in all aspects of the EC. They have welcomed me with open arms and have been awesome in helping me transition to a new work environment. From the time Rebecca Schild told me I could do my internship at the EC until now, everyone has been very friendly and nice. So a big thanks to all my coworkers!

The Zero Waste team that I have joined is a group with many great ideas and we have some really cool projects going on. Our “Conservation Campaign” has multiple themes which change every month.

We have started out with “reuse” for the month of February. For this we have focused on trying make the campus community aware of how many things can and should be reused instead of just being thrown away. For this you may have seen our “free Store” which has been in and around the student union building every Thursday. Here students can drop off items to the EC, and they are showcased and given away for free on Thursdays to anyone who wants them. We also had a reusable bag decoration table set up in the student union building on Thursday February 17th, where we had free reusable bags for students to decorate and use for many years to come. We also are hosting a “get crafty” competition which invites students to send a picture of themselves and their reused item via email to ec_waste@fortlewis.edu. These pictures are due by Friday February 25th 2011, and we will be holding a table in or outside the student union building on Monday February 28th to have people vote for who they think has the most useful, most creative and most reused material. The winners will be awarded with gift certificates to local businesses. If you haven’t submitted anything yet, do so immediately because YOU could be a winner!

For the month of March we plan to have the theme of “recycle”. For this we will be focusing on making the campus community more aware of the impacts they can have on the planet by recycling or not. We will be having tables set up once a week with demonstrations on how to recycle properly. We will also be providing each residence hall with new recycle bins, and allow people from each hall decorate their bins as they see fit.

The month of April will be dedicated to “reduce”. Here we will be focusing on trying to make the campus community have a smaller impact on the environment by reducing the amount of consumption. We will be showing the movie “Tapped” to make people more aware of the impacts of bottled water. We will also be promoting reusable water bottles instead of single use plastic water bottles.

I am also working individually on auditing the Sustainability Action Plan. This is a Plan that has a goal to make Fort Lewis a more sustainable campus. It is a very comprehensive plan with many small goals within the big goals that have been set. Improving our sustainable performance, making the community more educated and engaged on becoming more sustainable, providing service, research and partnerships to the entire region, and getting coordination and support from the community are the main goals to the plan.

Stewardship is a goal within performance which strives to decrease and maximize our water use on campus, maximize our land use on campus, and make the surrounding environment as healthy as possible. Another goal within performance is consumption which strives to reduce our purchasing consumption, reduce our waste stream, and increase our recycling rates. The last big goal within performance is climate. This goal is to build more sustainable buildings, decrease our overall energy on campus, and reduce our impacts to the earth from transportation.

Education and Engagement is a big goal for the SAP. This goal specifically focuses on getting the community educated, trained and have there be a big public involvement with the goals for the plan. This goal is very important to the entire plan. We need the involvement of not only the Fort Lewis community, but also the entire community of La Plata County in order to gain the support we need to achieve all the goals.

All of these goals are imperative to the completion of the SAP. The plan is set to be complete by 2015 and was started in 2010. The reason for my auditing of the plan is to see that everything is being done that possibly can be done at this time. There are responsibilities that each department is involved with achieving these goals. Keeping each department on track is the focus of my audit and will provide future students with a stepping stone to use the next time the plan needs to be audited.

Working at the EC has been a great experience so far. The people that work there and the projects that we are taking on are awesome! Keep your ears and eyes open for these people and projects as the semester continues in order to recognize and get involved with the fun we are having!

Water, Water everyhere but not a drop to drink

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Water is always a big topic in the west. Water is required for life. Without it our crops die, our cities dry up, and eventually we would die. According to a Durango Herald editorial, Colorado’s Front Range is seeking new sources of water to fuel their population. Where do you think they’re looking? Across the continental divide, to the green and fertile western slope, at least that’s how they see us. One plan designed by Aaron Million, a Fort Collins developer, calls for a private pipeline that would carry as much as 250,000 acre feet of water from the Green River to the Front Range. The Green River, which begins in Wyoming and travels all the way into Utah where it merges with the Colorado River, is the primary water source for Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Southwestern Wyoming, and is one of the more popular river routes in the region. Luckily, Governor Bill Ritter does not support the idea of taking water from the Western Slope to support the Front Range. Gov. Ritter sees that while the Western Slope may have more water running through it, it is also a very arid region. Ritter also believes that the water from one watershed should not be used to support another, especially one that drains to the east instead of the west. If you want to learn more about this discussion check out the Durango Herald’s article here.

Is the Western Slope that wet? The Durango Herald reported that the Animas River, the river than runs through Durango, Colorado, is well below what it was in 2002. Why is this important? 2002, was one of the worst drought, and fire, years in Colorado history. The low water levels have been attributed to early runoff and a dry monsoon season. Hopefully, Colorado will have a snowy winter that will make up for the lack of a monsoon. But only time will tell. If we don’t get a good winter base it is likely that we could find ourselves in a drought with fires raging around us. If that happens we might need to steal some water from the Front Range.

– Ben Rogers