Keep Sewage Sludge Off Stevens County Farmland
Jan. 9, 2024: Residents near Tum Tum, WA, say they received late notice about Spokane County being in the process of contracting to dump municipal sewage sludge (a.k.a. “biosolids”) on the surface of agricultural ground near Hwy. 291 and McAlister Road. The dumping area has an aquifer under it and drains into Lake Spokane. The neighbors in this community have many questions and little information. They are circulating an online petition to organize a meeting to discuss the proposal. Please consider adding your name.
Sewage sludge is filth, not fertilizer. It’s against the law to expose food crops to filth. Sewage sludge contains toxic substances but is never tested for the hundreds and hundreds of toxins any single batch might contain. Not to mention micro-plastics. Or PFAS. Washington taxpayers have spent billions setting up and maintaining municipal sewage treatment plants all over the state to clean up our wastewater before it’s discharged into natural water systems and yet the state insists on putting all the pollution the taxpayers had paid to remove from the environment right back into the environment to leach into our waterways and poison our wildlife. The state of Washington needs to BAN the application of sewage sludge on agricultural and forest lands. It is reckless to allow the dumping of sewage sludge at McAllister Rd to 2450 feet west of McAllister Rd, from Scotts Valley Rd to 2220 feet south of Scotts Valley Rd, Stevens County or anywhere else. It must be taken to properly-designed hazardous waste landfills or cleanly incinerated at very high temperatures.
Sign the petition:
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners has this “Biosolids Application” on their agenda. The Board meets each Monday and Tuesday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The public can access via video using Microsoft Teams or by phone. Comments may be emailed to the Stevens County Commissioners:
Commissioners’ meeting schedule:
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group is suspending our regular monthly meetings.
If you would like to continue to be active on farmland preservation issues in Spokane County, please consider joining the Regional Food and Agriculture Committee of the Spokane Food Policy Council as a non-voting community volunteer.
Coeur d’Alene Tribe Preserves Spokane Farmland in Latah Valley Purchase!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 16, 2021
Contact: Chrys Ostrander
914-246-0309 (voice and text)
Sept. 16, 2021, Spokane, WA – The people of Spokane and future generations have the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to thank for preserving 48 acres of some of the last zoned agricultural land in the city with the Tribe’s purchase of the property that closed on Tuesday. Sometimes referred to as the Pilcher farm after one of the former owners, the property abuts the High Drive Bluff Park south of the Vinegar Flats neighborhood. Hangman Creek flows through the property which historically was a major salmon run and essential to the indigenous food system. The Tribe seeks to "enhance the property’s ecological value in a way that promotes the return of salmon."
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group made a significant contribution to the process that has culminated in this historic achievement. The Working Group sounded the alarm early when a conditional permit to build 94 homes on the farmland was approved by City Planning in 2019. The Working Group is an independent committee of concerned individuals. It developed an outreach campaign to educate the public about the threat of losing this valuable open space. As a result, city officials heard from constituents that alternatives to development should be explored including possibly spending public money to buy the property.
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group then joined the Latah Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Heritage Project (LEAF). LEAF is a coalition made up of city staff, local nonprofits and interested citizens that explored various scenarios in an effort to piece together a plan for the purchase of the land so it would remain open space.
In late October 2020, LEAF organized a tour of the property. Representatives from several conservation organizations, City of Spokane officials and a Spokane County Commissioner gathered at the farm, hosted by JRP Land, LLC, the property owners. Topics of discussion revolved around restoring the shoreline and preserving the open space including by means of public acquisition.
Ultimately, with no viable public option identified, in January LEAF facilitated the initiation of negotiations between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the landowner that resulted in this week’s purchase by the Tribe.
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group is very pleased with this auspicious outcome of a long and difficult process and is grateful to the Tribe for making it possible. The land is now safe and in good hands.
Spokane's New Sustainability Action Plan!
With wide community support, the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan was adopted by the City of Spokane. The plan was compiled by the Sustainability Action Subcommittee of the Spokane City Council. It updates the City's 2009 sustainability plan. It makes many bold recommendations for strengthening the Spokane regional food system and supporting local agricultural production.
For the first time, this plan emphasizes the local food system as an integral part of meeting the City's sustainability and climate goals. Now is the time for the community to rally and make these important recommendations a reality. Please make your voice heard.
New: Report from American Farmland Trust:
Farms Under Threat: The State of the States
A brand new comprehensive assessment of U.S. farmland loss by the American Farmland Trust and a Call to Action.
There are many reasons we should
preserve farmland in our community.
Click/Tap to read more under each heading >>
Local food is a valuable natural resource.
Isn't it a miracle how dollars can grow out of the ground in the form of food the same way that dollars are pumped out of the ground in the petroleum industry. The added benefit of local food is that it can mitigate climate change instead of exacerbating it.
Farming and value-added processing provide local jobs.
When a dollar is spent on locally grown food, it tends to change hands with other local businesses which significantly multiplies its value to the local economy. A vibrant local food system contributes to regional economic gain, increased food security and stronger community resilience.
Local food production improves food security.
The availability of local food improves the health and wellness of a community. When a community develops its own food resources instead of depending on imported food or the industrial food sector, it is not as vulnerable to the effects of drought, transportation failures, natural disasters, or other misfortunes. Robust local food production can also make sure people of all incomes have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other locally produced foods.
Arable lands in production, managed responsibly, provide open space and perform important ecosystem services...
...like wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. Farms in a community improve quality of life, provide educational opportunities and keep people connected to their food supply and the people who grow it. A vibrant local food system is dependent on the preservation of arable working farmland and maintaining access to that farmland by those who want to farm it.
Local policy is failing to preserve farms and farmland.
Recent examples involve proposals to develop housing units on land within the City of Spokane that is zoned ‘Residential Agricultural’ (RA*) Almost all of the agricultural land in active production in 2019 (about 55 acres) could be covered by these houses and lost to farming forever. One proposal called "Deep Pine Overlook" seeks to build 94 homes on 48 acres of USDA "Prime" farmland in a flood zone adjacent to the already-polluted Hangman Creek. These houses would add a surge of new traffic to a notoriously treacherous patch of State Route 195. Opposition from citizens concerned about the loss of these agricultural resources was voiced at hearings, but developers’ interests are prevailing and construction permits are being approved for these parcels regardless of neighborhood and ecological concerns. Read more about our efforts to find an alternative to the Deep Pine Overlook development.
*"The RA zone is a low-density single-family residential zone that is applied to areas that are designated agriculture on the land use plan map of the comprehensive plan. Uses allowed in this zone include farming, green house farming, single-family residences and minor structures used for sales of agricultural products produced on the premises." –From the Spokane Municipal Code, Section 17C.110.030
We won't preserve farmland until we get serious about it.
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group advocates in favor of the community's desire to protect farmland from development, as reflected in language agreed to in the Comprehensive Plans. The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group is developing proposals to achieve more farmland preservation and strengthen the preservation policies governing our region that are currently failing to preserve farmland.