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A Green Business Investing in Restoration & Community
by Jim Carpenter

Green Business is the emerging corporate paradigm for the postmodern age. Across the spectrum, industries are re-assessing their operations to reflect this interest-as a good management tool, a necessity for securing raw materials, or simply as a marketing strategy. Whatever the motivation, it is clearly an idea whose time has come.

Riding this wave-both literally and figuratively-New Earth has been in the green foods business for more than two decades, harvesting the abundant organic microalgae from Upper Klamath Lake. The lake, considered eutrophic-highly enriched with nutrients-has sustained algae blooms for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Labeled by some as nuisance algae, it has been studied with a view of trying to get rid of it. All the while, the nutritional properties had remained largely unexplored. All this changed as New Earth has distributed the freeze-dried blue green algae-Aphanizomenon flos-aquae- throughout North America. This has transformed the "nuisance algae" into Klamath County's single largest agricultural commodity, with up to $200 million in annual sales. "Green" has been particularly good in this business and provided the economic engine to drive a variety of programs and projects designed to sustain the ecosystem and the community.

A "self funded environmental organization," New Earth is able to direct considerable resources into the restoration of the ecosystem that sustains its livelihood. Not through grants or fund raising drives, but through a network of Independent Distributors operating their own businesses. Socially conscious and environmentally aware, these Distributors are interested in taking a stewardship role in personal and planetary health and expect the company to model this in the Klamath Basin.

As earlier noted, Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath Basin are some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world. Home to the (formerly) largest Ponderosa Pine forest, world class Red Band Trout and largest wetland complex in the West, the Basin is both a cornucopia of natural resources, and fertile ground for ecosystem recovery projects designed to sustain the environment.

Over-used water: Since New Earth built its business wildcrafting the blue-green algae from the waters of Upper Klamath Lake, it seemed natural that we would take an active role in water quality and quantity issues-there certainly are plenty. The forests have been cut, wetlands drained, habitats lost, and the water itself overallocated to the point that there is no longer enough water for all who claim an interest. We are currently involved in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that aims to find creative solutions in anticipation of a lengthy and contentious adjudication of the Basin's water. The hope is that through creative dialogue, solutions will be found that make the ultimate winner the natural resources of the Basin.

In addition to staying as the table in search of consensus, New Earth has also been building partnerships on the ground with tangible projects designed to augment water supplies, provide habitats and improve water quality.

A Riparian Park: On a piece of surplus city property that was scheduled to be sold and developed, New Earth is constructing a 3.5 acre riparian park with nesting islands and uplands planted with native species like bulrush and black cottonwood. Though not a large park, its public access and urban location on the lake make it an easy educational trip for school groups, bird watchers, and fisherpersons. The construction is proceeding with a crew of at-risk teenagers-learning horticulture and environmental awareness as foundational job skills.

The Williamson River delta: This Upper Klamath Lake wetland restoration project is huge. It is 4700 acres in the middle of some of the most important habitat for two listed species of endangered fish. The goal is that once restored, this habitat will lead to the recovery of these two species. New Earth, PacifiCorp, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Nature Conservancy, along with the help of many others, are partnering this important effort. In addition to being the richest farmland-the source of many of the commercially grown seed potatoes in the Basin. Recognizing the importance of both farming and species habitats, 1100 acres will continue to be farmed as the delta is restored to develop complementary and synergistic agricultural practices. The production of food needs to be in balance with the environment-not one at the expense of the other.

Bald Eagle Habitat: When Weyerhauser sold its eastern Oregon timberlands it offered to give 400 acres along the lake to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Unfortunately, ODF&W was unable to take on any more property due to severe budgetary constraints. New Earth was able to facilitate the transaction by providing a endowment that will pay taxes and the fire assessment in trust for the property. In the future the land will be managed for eagle habitat-rather than timber production.

Community efforts: It isn't all wetlands and wildlife though. The "eco" in ecosystems speaks to home. New Earth supports several community efforts. Environmental Studies and basketball at OIT; WaterFest; the Bald Eagle Conference-the oldest bird festival in the US; Headwaters Ancient Forest Activists Conference; the Oregon Lakes Association Conference, and the Harbor House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

The Klamath Basin is an amazing watershed with 10.5 million acres of incredible diversity and opportunity-and it needs a lot of help. Our feeling is that the only way to meet our goals is through partnerships at every level. Cooperation in restoration is the only way to ensure everyone's needs are met and Green Business is the sustainable
"economic" model that can make it all happen.

Join our sustainable Green Business and make a positive contribution to the environment

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