The Columbia Basin Trust is hosting free open houses and/or community engagements in 23 communities across the Basin. And the environmental organization Wildsight is urging people to attend, either in person or via Zoom, to advocate for continuing funding for environmental education.
Dates of all the community meetings can be found here
According to Wildsight, in the past year they learned that environmental education was no longer considered a strategic priority for the Trust, and that support for environmental education across the Basin was being cancelled.
“We have been grateful for the committed partnership with the Trust – for more than 20 years, it has allowed us to connect more than 3,000 students each year with their wild backyards,” Wildisght said in a statement. “These cuts don’t just affect us, but our partners at CBEEN and all other organizations offering environmental education programming in the Basin.”
Director of Communications for CBT, Delphi Hoodicoff, says that when consulting with Basin residents on the current Management Plan, which covers 2020 to 2023, environmental education did not emerge as a major theme.
“Projects that take direct on-the-ground action to restore ecosystems and to support climate resilience in the Basin did emerge as major themes when the Trust engaged with residents,” she said. “The Trust developed new programs to support those areas.
“The Trust is proud to have supported environment education programs delivered by CBEEN and Wildsight, and the efforts of their boards, staff and contractors in delivering programs.
“As new programs are developed or current programs continued, the Trust must make difficult budgeting decisions. When new programs are offered, funding for past programs often needs to be reduced or concluded so that limited resources can be used to meet the objectives of the Columbia Basin Management Plan.”
Hoodicoff confirmed current agreements for environment education programs with CBEEN and Wildsight conclude in 2023.
Basin residents looking to share their thoughts on the Trust’s next Management Plan are invited to join the public engagement process this spring. Residents can attend a community conversation, complete an online survey or join a Zoom meeting. More information about how to get involved is available at https://ourtrust.org/future. The community meeting in Kimberley takes place April 5, 2023.