Recently Gonzaga came together with colleges and universities to help found the Sustainable Partnership of the Northern Rockies (SPNR). SPNR is a compilation of universities and colleges who have come together because of bioregional similarities in order to advance the sustainability of these organizations in hopes to promote the entire sustainability of the bioregion itself. The bioregion that this group encompasses is Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Montana as they share many of the same base resources used to sustain life.
SPNR has outlined some of the environmental and economic "wealths" that this region shares:
-Warm dry summers, cold wet winters, precipitation during winter and spring months, seasonal drought, increasing weather variability and extreme events.
-Forests where there is sufficient precipitation, grassland and shrublands elsewhere
-Riparian areas are biological hotspots (attractors)
-Animals mostly depend on vegetation and topographical patterns
-Invasive species, often exotic
-Loss of biodiversity as well as extent of habitat
-Increasing Human demands and conflict with other biota
-Potential or real lowering of ground water tables (consumption)
-Soil productivity follows availability of moisture. Agriculture can lead to soil degradation through erosion, salt accumulation or nutrient loss. Evolving management practices
improve rather than degrade soil.
-Mineral and rock extraction continues which support the local economies. There has been extensive degradation of biota and land and water resources from mining.
-Cleanup and restoration activities are increasing, which also support local economies, and will provide a more realistic view of the cost of extraction.
Tribal reservation life
-Rich traditional ecological and cultural knowledge
-Opportunities to improve living conditions
-Small to medium size communities dominate
-Opportunities to provide living conditions
-Ranges from strongly supported to lacking.
-Many non-profit organizations are dedicated to service and improving conditions
-Potential for a person or family to have an economically sufficient lifestyle
-Continued use of non-renewable extracted resources without full regard for the tradeoffs
-Opportunities to improve wealth by improving sustainability
Note: These descriptions came from SPNR's bioregion description which were formulated from the book Ecoregion-Based Design for Sustainability by Robert G. Bailey.
To find a map of a variety of levels of ecoregions visit http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions.htm
SPNR is open to new members in this area and for more information on how to join this group contact Alecia Hoene at firstname.lastname@example.org.