Cage 749

Save Our Summers

Records, 1975-2004 (bulk 1990-2002)

Agricultural burning in the Palouse region of Washington State (undated photograph, circa 1995-2005)

Acquisition And Processing Information

The records of Save Our Summers (SOS) were donated to the Washington State University Libraries by Patti Gora in 2008 (MS 2008-21). The collection was processed by Lee Ann Powell in 2010.

Extent/Quantity Information

Number of containers: 28

Linear feet of shelf space: 15

Organizational History

Save Our Summers (SOS), a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, was organized in 1995 to raise public awareness about the environmental and health hazards of the agricultural practice of grass burning, and to strengthen regulations to protect public health and air quality. SOS was originally formed in response to practices in Spokane County, WA, and subsequently expanded its area of concern to include wheat stubble burning in the Palouse region.

Patricia Hoffman, a retired veterinarian, founded this nonprofit volunteer organization in Spokane. SOS recruited volunteers through membership drives, advertisements in local newspapers, and public meetings. Many members and their families had personally experienced health problems linked to smoke and emissions from agricultural burning. SOS challenged government agencies and farmers to more effectively regulate, reduce, and halt the practice. SOS pursued these goals by holding meetings, writing letters, lobbying government officials, circulating petitions, distributing educational literature, and initiating legal action.

At about the same time, the Clean Air Coalition (CAC) organized separately in Sandpoint, ID, to address similar agricultural burning on the Rathdrum prairie. The two groups made attempts to work together, but because most of the local organizing happened at neighborhood meetings, the geographical separation was problematic. Another group, Safe Air For Everyone (SAFE), was organized in 2001 following some of the worst burns on the Rathdrum prairie. SOS and SAFE worked cooperatively, using the court system in their efforts to end agricultural burning in the region.

SOS filed lawsuits challenging government actions and public policies in Washington and Idaho. In 1999, the group initiated three lawsuits against Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), and in 2000 filed suit against two State of Idaho departments, Agriculture and Environmental Quality.

SOS filed its first case in Thurston County (WA) Superior Court, the jurisdiction in which the Washington DOE headquarters is located, on March 19, 1999. SOS claimed that DOE had violated the state Clean Air Act by making a voluntary agreement in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) to reduce pollution from field burning. SOS also alleged that the agency violated state rulemaking requirements and failed to fully consider the human and environmental health consequences of this agreement. Judge Richard Hicks observed that he failed to see how an agreement that moved growers in the direction of less burning was harmful. The courts also ruled that since the MOU between DOE and WAWG was a voluntary agreement, failure to reach the goals stated in the MOU were not punishable offenses.

The second suit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on August 11, 1999. SOS alleged that DOE was in violation of the state Open Records Act for failing to disclose key documents relevant to reduction of agricultural burning. Specifically at issue was a report by the WAWG about their public relations plan to garner support for their deal with DOE. DOE was cleared of wrongdoing, but the judge ruled that SOS was correct in filing the suit and ordered DOE to pay SOS's court costs and legal fees. The judge also directed SOS and DOE to reach an agreement on any additional documents requested by SOS.

The third suit, initiated by SOS with families from Whitman County, WA and Kootenai County, ID, was filed in U.S. District Court in October 1999. They sought an immediate halt to field burning. SOS argued that DOE was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They argued that by failing to regulate the smoke generated by wheat-stubble burning, DOE was preventing access to public resources by people suffering from respiratory diseases severely aggravated by the smoke. A final ruling was delayed several times as the judge waited to hear from the U. S. Department of Justice over the question of jurisdiction in the case. Ultimately, SOS and all other parties in the suit agreed to resolution through a mediation process.

Collection Description

The records of Save Our Summers include administrative files, press clipping files about field burning and the group's advocacy activities, research files, and litigation files with materials related to lawsuits brought by SOS.

Collection Arrangement

This collection generally retains its original order, with a few adjustments made during processing to facilitate research use. It is organized in five series:


Environmental protection -- Washington (State)
Environmental protection -- Idaho
Burning of land -- Health aspects -- Washington (State)
Burning of land -- Health aspects -- Idaho
Smoke -- Physiological effect -- Washington (State)
Smoke -- Physiological effect -- Idaho
Air quality management -- Washington (State)
Air quality management -- Idaho
Pressure groups -- Washington (State)
Pressure groups -- Idaho


This collection is open and available for research use. Copyright restrictions apply.

Preferred Citation

The suggested citation for the collection is:

[Item Description]
Save Our Summers records, 1975-2004
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Washington State University Libraries
Pullman, WA


Materials are in English.

Container List:

Box Folder Description
    Series 1: Administrative Files, 1995-2002
1 1 Bylaws, undated
  2 Chronology narrative, undated
  3 Meeting minutes, 1995-2002
  4 Financial records, 1995-2001
  5 Flyers, 1995, 1996, 1998, and undated
  6 Newsletters, 1995-2002
  7 Contact lists, 2001 and undated
  8 Bullitt Foundation grant, 1995-1999
  9 Grants, 1995-1999
  10 Bullitt Foundation annual reports, 1995-1996
  11 Grant applications, 2001
  12 Petition for limiting grass burning in Spokane County, undated
  13 Petition to ban grass burning, 1995
  14 Field burning pamphlet produced by SOS, undated
  15 Communications proposal, 2001
  16-18 Correspondence, 1995-1997
2 19-23 Correspondence, 1998-2002
  24 "Strange correspondence," 1999
  25-27 Email correspondence, 1997, 1999-2003
  28 Overhead transparencies, undated
  29 Zahl letter to Jessernig, 1999
  30 Smoke complaints, 1996-1999
  31 Statements by Jeff Krautkraemer, undated
  32 Radio advertisements, 1999
  33 Negotiation handbook, 1999
  34 Planning and strategies for environmental groups, 1989-1999
3 35 Smoke complaint logs, 1993-1995
  36 Smoke photographs and descriptions, 1999-2001
  37-40 Burn calls, 2000-2004
  41 Burn diaries, 1999 and undated
  42 Smoke victims, undated
  43 Records request submitted to Department of Ecology, 1998
  44 Trespassing charges filed against group members, 1998
  45 SOS press releases, 1991-2001
  46 SOS cereal grain best practices proposal, 1998
  47 SOS website, undated
  48 SOS grass research meeting presentation, undated
  49 Northwest air quality agencies, undated
  50 Kootenai County Clean Air Coalition (correspondence, grass burning survey, flyers, and organizational history), 1990-1991
  51 Clean Air Coalition (correspondence, meeting minutes, flyers), 1997
  52 Magazine articles on field burning, 1995 and 2000-2001
    Press clippings (Capital Press, Spokesman-Review, Evergreen Daily, Tri-City Herald, Lewiston Tribune, Bonner County Daily Bee, Pullman-Moscow News, The Coeur d 'Alene Press, and North Idaho Business Journal)
4 53-62 1990-1997 and undated
5 63-69 1997-2000
6 70-79 2000-2003
7 80 Notes on various topics including research, contact information, and litigation, undated
    Series 2: Research Files, 1975-2004 (bulk 1990-2000)
  81-86 Capital Press Agriculture Weekly articles covering a wide range of agricultural topics, 1999-2002
8 87-93 Health and agricultural burning (articles and studies), 1984-2004
9 94 American Lung Association (pamphlets, correspondence, and articles), 1992-1998
95-96 Spokane County Physicians letters of support for ending grass field burning, 1996-2001
  97 Washington State Cancer Registry annual report, 1997
  98 Report on premature mortality due to particulate pollution, 1996
  99 Results from Spokane Health Study, 1998
  100 Washington State Department of Health public health report, 1996
  101-102 Agronomy (papers and articles), 1995-2002
10 103-104 Grass seed cropping systems (articles, reports, and conference proceedings), 1997-2003
  105 Direct seed intensive cropping conference (proceedings), 1998
  106-108 Biomass burn emissions (studies and articles), 1995-2001
  109 Weed and disease management articles, 1998 and 2000
  110 Tobacco Free Washington effective media interviews guide, 1995
  111 Washington State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences field day proceedings, 1995
11 112-114 No till-direct seed cropping (articles and studies), 1975-2003
  115 Public television appearance notes (KSPS: Mike Conley and Washington State University Grass Study), undated
  116-118 Farm Policy articles, 1995-2003
  119 Solid Fuel Burning Device Program annual reports, 1991-1999
  120 Hillyard rail yard hazardous waste burning site (report), 1995
12 121-122 Agriculture economics papers, 1997-2000
  123-124 Grass seed (studies, reports, and articles), 1990-2001
  125-126 Columbia Plateau Wind Erosion-Air Quality Project reports, 1995-1998
  127 Conservation Tillage Columbia Basin case study newsletter, 1993
  128 Columbia Basin Agriculture Research annual report, 1995
  129 Palouse Co-operative River Basin Study report, 1978
13 130-131 Solution to Environmental and Economic Problems (STEEP) water and soil protections program (news updates and reports), 1991-2000
  132 Air pollution and emissions from agricultural burning (articles, studies, and reports), 1977-2002
  133 Moses Lake Conservation District newsletters, 1989 and 1990
  134 "Where There's Smoke, There's Controversy--WSU involvement in grass burning, 1989-1997" (report), 1998
  135 Propane flaming and reduced fuel loading study, 1997
  136 Soil erosion (articles), 1989-1997
  137 Inland Northwest Field Burning Summit (correspondence, survey, and article), 1991-1993
  138 Agricultural Systems Assessment workshop and field tours (resource notebook), 1995
  139 Agriculture and Bio-diversity (electronic discussion list posts), 1999
  140 Wheat stubble burning thesis, 2001
  141 Residue data (1995-1998), 1998
  142 Chemical analysis of grass seed field straw (reports), 1993 and 1996
  143 Conservation Reserve Program (guide and report), 1994 and 1996
  144 The Nature Conservancy (article about group), 2003
14 145 Washington State agricultural data, 1997-2001
  146 Washington State emissions data, 1994-2002
  147 Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (information about the center), 1999
  148 Spring-Winter canola production outline, undated
  149 Uses for wheat straw (article and study), 1997 and 2002
  150 Soil quality information sheet, 1996
  151 Fertilizer placement information, 1997
  152 U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet on soil conservation assistance, 1981
  153 Environmental justice (articles), 2000
  154 [not used]
  155 "Amber Waves of Gain" (article about the Farm Bureau), 2000
  156 Clean Air Acts (articles and text of legislation), 1990s
  157 Field burning in Oregon (data, reports, and articles), 1978-2002
  158 Oregon grass seed production reports, 1991-1994
  159-160 Idaho agricultural burning (Idaho Farm Bureau and Idaho Department of Ecology documents, smoke management plan, field burning hearings, and field burning reports), 1999-2002
15 161-164 Idaho agricultural burning (continued)
  165 Agricultural burning in California (newsletter), 1980
  166-167 California rice straw (reports, handbook, burning information), 1997-2000
  168 12 Hour back trajectories maps (Washington and Idaho), 1999-2000
  169 Satellite smoke photographs (Washington and Idaho), 2001
  170 Coeur d 'Alene Tribe blue grass meeting (agenda, notes, and resolution), 1997
  171 Air pollution data from Spokane Crown Z and Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, 1997
  172 Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer map, undated
  173-175 Spokane County Air Pollution Control authority (air pollution public opinion survey, regulations, newsletter, and meeting minutes), 1991-1999
  176 Spokane County agricultural burning data and regulations, 1997-1998
16 177 Whitman and Latah counties air quality data, 2000
  178-179 Whitman County burn permits (application, reports, and permits), 1999 and 2001
  180-182 Steve Mader burn enforcement case (photographs, notes, correspondence, reports, and permits), 1995-2002
  183 Board of Whitman County Commissioners (correspondence and meeting minutes on field burning), 1998-1999
  184-186 Environmental Protection Agency (review of burn permit program, newsletters, best practices guide, stakeholder forums, burn strategy, pollutant standards index, ambient air quality standards, air quality criteria for particulate matter, air quality reports), 1994-2001
17 186.1 Environmental Protection Agency (continued)
  187 Environmental Protection Agency Spokane hearing notes, 2000
  188 Upper Columbia River Sierra Club newsletter, 1998
  189 Washington Conservation Voters Grass Burning Survey, undated
  190-198 [not used]
  199 Tri-State Perennial Grass Seed Working Group (meeting minutes and program review report), 1993
  200 Grass Seed Cropping Systems for a Sustainable Agriculture 4th annual conference (member list and conference proceedings), 1997
  201 Intermountain Grass Growers Association (correspondence regarding grass burning and report on the utilization of grass straw), 1975 and 1995
  202 Franklin county notice of intent to burn, 2000
  203 Department of Natural Resources burn management plan, 1995
  204 Permitted burn acreage (charts, data, and reports), 1992, 1995, 2001-2002
  205 Agricultural burn permit summary, 1996 and 1998
  206 Post burn reports, 1998
  207 Agricultural burn enforcement data, 1999-2000
  208 Washington State agricultural burning laws and bills; 1989, 1999-2000
  209 Yakima County Clean Air Authority emission standards data, undated
  210-212 Washington State Association of Wheat Growers (group finances, correspondence, press releases, press clippings, resolutions, and annual meeting proceedings, and newsletter articles), 1994-2001
  213 Research notes (author unidentified; various topics related to field burning and SOS), undated
    Series 3: Washington State Department of Ecology, 1989-2002
18 214-217 Correspondence (incoming, outgoing, and internal), 1989-2001
  218 Press releases, 1998-2000
  219-222 Agricultural Burning Practices and Research Task Force (meeting minutes and agendas, task force history, workshop schedule, correspondence, reports, and member lists), 1992-2002
19 223 Agriculture Burning Practices and Research Task Force (continued)
  224 Project description and work plan for best practices manual, 2001
  225 Grass seed field burning alternative certification, 1998 and 2006
  226 Burning responsiveness report, 1995
  227 Lawrence Peterson harassment charge
  228 Tom Fitzsimmons remarks at wheat growers convention, 1998
  229 Research on alternatives to field burning, 1998
  230 Budget and program overview report, 2000
  231 Agricultural burn permit program audit, 2000
  232-233 Agricultural burning evaluation panel (meeting agenda and reports), 2002
20 234 Burn penalty summaries, 1999-2000
  235 Burn information (requirements, restrictions, and applications), 1990-2001
  236 Symposium on particulate matter (presenter information), 2000
  237 Air quality data, 2002
  238-239 Alternatives to burning grant proposals, 2002
  240 Air quality program (brochure, plans, report, and notes), 1995 and 2000-2001
  241 Public outreach and education (brochures), 2002
  242 Environmental Protection Agency review of burn program (correspondence and reports), 1999-2000
    Series 4: Litigation Files, 1996-2002
  243 Washington grass seed field burning emergency rule, 1999
  244 Request to Environmental Protection Agency for review of field burning, 1999
  245-247 Save Our Summers suit against Department of Ecology, challenging memorandum of understanding with Washington Association of Wheat Growers (court documents, MOU drafts, correspondence, reports, testimony, and supporting evidence), 1997-1999
21 248-249 Save Our Summers suit against Department of Ecology (continued)
  250 National Environmental Education Foundation report on Wheat Growers-Department of Ecology MOU controversy, 2000
  251-252 Save Our Summers nondisclosure suit against Department of Ecology (court documents, timeline of SOS pursuit of missing documents, lists of Freedom of Information Act document requests, correspondence, and supporting evidence, primarily DOE correspondence), 1996-2000
  253-255 Save Our Summers Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) suit against Department of Ecology (court documents, affidavits, exhibits, notes, witness lists, reports, and Department of Ecology exhibits and evidence), 1999-2001
22 256-262 ADA suit (continued)
23 263-264 ADA suit (continued)
  265 Mediation and settlement agreements between SOS and DOE (correspondence and mediation and agreement documents), 2000-2001
  266 Save Our Summers rule request for stubble burning (correspondence, drafts of rule request), 2000-2001
  267 Clean Air Act and environmental protection cases, United States Supreme Court, 2000
  268 Supreme Court ADA cases, 2001 and 2002
  269-270 Save Our Summers v. State of Idaho (court documents, correspondence, and exhibits), 2000 and 2002
24 271-272 SOS v. Idaho (continued)
  273-276 Litigation research organized for an unidentified case, 1996-2000
    Series 5: Photographs and audiovisual media, 1992-2003
25   Photographs showing smoke from agricultural burning on the Palouse, 1998-2003 and undated
26   Audiocassettes of hearings on agricultural burning, 1990-1996 and undated
27-28   Video recordings (VHS format; newscasts, committee meetings, and agricultural burning information), 1992-1998 and undated