Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ERC looks toward next 20 years

Eco-minded group celebrates anniversary

Express Staff Writer

Molly Goodyear

The Environmental Resource Center, an eco-minded nonprofit organization in Ketchum, has come a long way since its inception in May 1993.
    Then, they had a tiny part-time staff and a focus on recycling. Now, Executive Director Molly Goodyear said the ERC is branching out into energy use, sustainable food systems, water use, and maintaining a connection to nature as part of the organization’s 20th anniversary year.
    Goodyear is serving as the ERC’s executive director for the second time. She previously led the ERC from 1999 to 2001, but departed to give birth to the second of her two children. Goodyear said she was working as a veterinary technician at the Sun Valley Animal Center last summer when ERC board member Kingsley Murphy approached her and asked if she’d be willing to take the reins.
    “I was missing environmental work,” she said, adding that the opportunity to come back was “compelling.”
    She arrived to find an organization that had focused on recycling, due to former director Craig Barry’s experience in that field. But when the county took over the Blaine County Recycle Center in 2011, Goodyear said the organization needed to figure out what to do next.
    A lot of major undertakings are still in the works, including the ERC’s Green Living Initiative, which will help residents, businesses and event planners be more eco-friendly. But Goodyear said the organization is already preparing to revamp its program to pick up dog waste.
    Renamed P.U.P., or “Pick Up for the Planet,” the program started in 2005 as a way to clean trailheads of unsightly and often hazardous dog waste. Goodyear said the ERC collaborated with the Blaine County Recreation District, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to bring bags and bins for dog waste to popular area trailheads.
    “If you have a lot of dog waste near waterways or seeping into the ground, it’s an environmental hazard,” she said.

“There aren’t many organizations that have been around for 20 years, and it’s a huge accomplishment.”
Molly Goodyear
Executive director

    The program will be the focus of a major fundraising campaign that Goodyear said would officially launch next month. The group hopes to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 to erect new educational signs and to put out new dog-waste bins that will be covered and protected from the elements.
All waste bags will be made out of 100 percent recycled plastic—not biodegradable or compostable bags, Goodyear said, because the nearest dog-waste composter is in Colorado and biodegradable bags require sunlight to break down.
“We feel really confident that we can raise the money,” she said. “People are very vocal about [this problem].”
The ERC headquarters on Washington Avenue in Ketchum will also get a facelift this year. The building is separated from the street by a bare yard shaded with giant conifers. Goodyear said that by June she hopes to have the entire area filled with seats made of boulders, drought-resistant and shade-tolerant plants, as well as educational signage and decking.
“The yard doesn’t really reflect how we feel about ourselves and what we do,” she said, adding that much of the material for the project will be recycled or renewable materials, demonstrating the organization’s commitment to the environment.
    Goodyear said she hopes to begin construction next month, while continuing to work on the myriad of other projects the organization hopes to unveil before its official anniversary celebration in August.
“It’s a big deal,” she said of the 20th anniversary. “There aren’t many organizations that have been around for 20 years, and it’s a huge accomplishment. [But] this is just the beginning.”

Kate Wutz:

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