Environmental conference hits fifth year

The April 2 seminar will look at the island’s eco-health.

While island environmentalists can claim many victories in the last five years, there is still much more work to do.

That’s the theme of the fifth-annual Bainbridge Environmental Conference on April 2, which aims to express a “state of the union on Bainbridge Island” and set a vision for the future.

“When you look back on the last five years of your life, it’s natural to look ahead five years, and that’s what we intend to do,” said Charles Schmid, a member of the Association of Bainbridge Communities, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

The conference will focus on what’s been accomplished to restore and preserve the island’s ecological health.

A documentary film will feature successful efforts to clean up the Vincent Road dump, preserve shorelines and forests through the city’s Open Space Commission and efforts to ensure a steady supply of clean water.

Participants will then brainstorm about ways to tackle new environmental issues over the next five years.

The conference will include site tours, including a visit to the reclaimed landfill.

“Over 30 years ago, garbage was dumped in the ravine and garbage was just burned,” Schmid said. “Now that 40-acre site’s cleaned. We want people to see that success, and show that there can be more of these stories.”

Other site tours include stops at the Close Property wooodlands, and a possible boat ride around Eagle Harbor to highlight efforts to save Pritchard Park and the Hall Property.

Last year’s conference, which drew 100 participants, highlighted the island’s dependence on a finite groundwater supply. Water will again take a prominent place at this year’s conference.

“But there are still many questions, especially with the upcoming drought,” Schmid said, foreshadowing discussions about conserving the island’s water supply.

“We can’t get water from other places, so we need to think about our water in the long-term.”

The conference begins at 8 a.m. with a continental breakfast served in the foyer of the Bainbridge High School LGI Room. The video begins at 8:30 a.m. with discussions following. Lunch will be provided at 12:30 p.m., with participants setting out for tours afterward. Fees are $15 for registration before March 25 and $25 thereafter. Call the Bainbridge Island Land Trust for more information, at 842-9483.

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