Patricia (Patty) Ericsson and Preston Andrews of Sandpoint are members of ICL’s Advocates for Idaho monthly giving program. They are also both retired professors of Washington State University and volunteers with ICL’s Water Quality Monitoring Program in North Idaho.
The North Idaho Lakes Advocacy program focuses on protecting the waters of Idaho’s panhandle from degradation, pollution, and poor land use management. It ensures that places like Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Priest Lake, the Kootenai River, and other waterways stay protected for now and future generations — a mission important to Patty and Preston.
“We live in an area where lakes are plentiful and clean water is abundant. But we can’t assume this will always remain if we don’t pay careful attention and work to preserve our water resources,” reflects Patty.
Becoming involved with ICL’s water quality monitoring in North Idaho just made sense for the pair — both are passionate about water and were involved in water quality monitoring in Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River for five years with the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. When ICL took over those duties, it was a natural step for Patty and Preston to continue their citizen science efforts.
“Preston and I have been part of the monitoring program for the past six years, collecting samples in wind, rain, icy temps, but mostly on incredibly beautiful days,” Patty shares. “The past three years we have been sampling at the same site, Morton Slough. Being familiar with the water and wildlife at one site has been an important part of our monitoring. This spring we noticed the absence of Ospreys in the nests that are typically active at the Slough. In August, we noticed the abundance of algae and especially noted bubbly, lime green areas. We reported this to ICL who then gave the info to DEQ who tested the water and found the presence of cyanobacteria.”
Seeing the results of their hard work is rewarding for Patty and Preston, and helps motivate them to continue.
“I’m impressed with ICL’s initiation of a comprehensive North Idaho Lakes Advocacy program,” shares Preston. “For those of us who live and recreate in northern Idaho, water is the dominant natural feature and resource. While we have plenty of mountains and forests here, water is what sustains all of north Idaho’s natural beauty and resident species.”
In addition to being active volunteers for organizations around North Idaho, Preston and Patty kayak, sail, garden, bike, ski, sail, and walk their Australian Shepherd, Jazz. They enjoy traveling to visit their families, which include five children and eleven grandchildren.
To become a member and make a contribution to support programs like the North Idaho Lakes Advocacy program, visit idahoconservation.org/donate.