Save Our Summers Records, 1975-2004

Overview of the Collection

Save Our Summers
Save Our Summers Records
1975-2004 (inclusive)
1990-2002 (bulk)
15 Linear feet of shelf space, (28 boxes)
Collection Number
Cage 749 (collection)
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. 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.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

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.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

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.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item Description] Save Our Summers records, 1975-2004

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


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

Series 1: Administrative files, 1995-2002. Includes meeting minutes, mailing lists, newsletters, petitions, grant applications, correspondence, and press files.

Series 2: Research files, 1975-2004 (bulk 1990-2000). Primarily collected material, including agricultural data, articles, reports, and studies on agricultural burning practices and health effects.

Series 3: Washington State Department of Ecology, 1989-2002. Includes records of SOS interactions with the Department of Ecology, interactions with others about the department, and collected materials about the department.

Series 4: Litigation files, 1996-2002. Includes copies of court documents and supporting materials related to SOS litigation: correspondence, research, affidavits, exhibits, and press clippings.

Series 5: Photographs and audiovisual media, 1992-2003. Photographs documenting agricultural burning in the Palouse region, audio recordings of hearings, and video recordings of news broadcasts, committee meetings, and documentary presentations.

Acquisition Information

The records of Save Our Summers (SOS) were donated to the Washington State University Libraries by Patti Gora in 2008 (MS 2008-21).

Processing Note

This collection was processed by Lee Ann Powell in 2010.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1: Administrative Files, 1995-2002Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 1
Bylaws, undated
1 2
Chronology narrative, undated
1 3
Meeting minutes, 1995-2002
1 4
Financial records, 1995-2001
1 5
Flyers, 1995, 1996, 1998, and undated
1 6
Newsletters, 1995-2002
1 7
Contact lists, 2001 and undated
1 8
Bullitt Foundation grant, 1995-1999
1 9
Grants, 1995-1999
1 10
Bullitt Foundation annual reports, 1995-1996
1 11
Grant applications, 2001
1 12
Petition for limiting grass burning in Spokane County, undated
1 13
Petition to ban grass burning, 1995
1 14
Field burning pamphlet produced by SOS, undated
1 15
Communications proposal, 2001
1 16-18
Correspondence, 1995-1997
2 19-23
Correspondence, 1998-2002
2 24
"Strange correspondence," 1999
2 25-27
Email correspondence, 1997, 1999-2003
2 28
Overhead transparencies, undated
2 29
Zahl letter to Jessernig, 1999
2 30
Smoke complaints, 1996-1999
2 31
Statements by Jeff Krautkraemer, undated
2 32
Radio advertisements, 1999
2 33
Negotiation handbook, 1999
2 34
Planning and strategies for environmental groups, 1989-1999
3 35
Smoke complaint logs, 1993-1995
3 36
Smoke photographs and descriptions, 1999-2001
3 37-40
Burn calls, 2000-2004
3 41
Burn diaries, 1999 and undated
3 42
Smoke victims, undated
3 43
Records request submitted to Department of Ecology, 1998
3 44
Trespassing charges filed against group members, 1998
3 45
SOS press releases, 1991-2001
3 46
SOS cereal grain best practices proposal, 1998
3 47
SOS website, undated
3 48
SOS grass research meeting presentation, undated
3 49
Northwest air quality agencies, undated
3 50
Kootenai County Clean Air Coalition (correspondence, grass burning survey, flyers, and organizational history), 1990-1991
3 51
Clean Air Coalition (correspondence, meeting minutes, flyers), 1997
3 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)
Box Folder
4 53-62
1990-1997 and undated
5 63-69
6 70-79
Box Folder
7 80
Notes on various topics including research, contact information, and litigation, undated

Series 2: Research Files, 1975-2004 (bulk 1990-2000)Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
7 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
9 95-96
Spokane County Physicians letters of support for ending grass field burning, 1996-2001
9 97
Washington State Cancer Registry annual report, 1997
9 98
Report on premature mortality due to particulate pollution, 1996
9 99
Results from Spokane Health Study, 1998
9 100
Washington State Department of Health public health report, 1996
9 101-102
Agronomy (papers and articles), 1995-2002
10 103-104
Grass seed cropping systems (articles, reports, and conference proceedings), 1997-2003
10 105
Direct seed intensive cropping conference (proceedings), 1998
10 106-108
Biomass burn emissions (studies and articles), 1995-2001
10 109
Weed and disease management articles, 1998 and 2000
10 110
Tobacco Free Washington effective media interviews guide, 1995
10 111
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
11 115
Public television appearance notes (KSPS: Mike Conley and Washington State University Grass Study), undated
11 116-118
Farm Policy articles, 1995-2003
11 119
Solid Fuel Burning Device Program annual reports, 1991-1999
11 120
Hillyard rail yard hazardous waste burning site (report), 1995
12 121-122
Agriculture economics papers, 1997-2000
12 123-124
Grass seed (studies, reports, and articles), 1990-2001
12 125-126
Columbia Plateau Wind Erosion-Air Quality Project reports, 1995-1998
12 127
Conservation Tillage Columbia Basin case study newsletter, 1993
12 128
Columbia Basin Agriculture Research annual report, 1995
12 129
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
13 132
Air pollution and emissions from agricultural burning (articles, studies, and reports), 1977-2002
13 133
Moses Lake Conservation District newsletters, 1989 and 1990
13 134
"Where There's Smoke, There's Controversy--WSU involvement in grass burning, 1989-1997" (report), 1998
13 135
Propane flaming and reduced fuel loading study, 1997
13 136
Soil erosion (articles), 1989-1997
13 137
Inland Northwest Field Burning Summit (correspondence, survey, and article), 1991-1993
13 138
Agricultural Systems Assessment workshop and field tours (resource notebook), 1995
13 139
Agriculture and Bio-diversity (electronic discussion list posts), 1999
13 140
Wheat stubble burning thesis, 2001
13 141
Residue data (1995-1998), 1998
13 142
Chemical analysis of grass seed field straw (reports), 1993 and 1996
13 143
Conservation Reserve Program (guide and report), 1994 and 1996
13 144
The Nature Conservancy (article about group), 2003
14 145
Washington State agricultural data, 1997-2001
14 146
Washington State emissions data, 1994-2002
14 147
Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (information about the center), 1999
14 148
Spring-Winter canola production outline, undated
14 149
Uses for wheat straw (article and study), 1997 and 2002
14 150
Soil quality information sheet, 1996
14 151
Fertilizer placement information, 1997
14 152
U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet on soil conservation assistance, 1981
14 153
Environmental justice (articles), 2000
14 154
[not used]
14 155
"Amber Waves of Gain" (article about the Farm Bureau), 2000
14 156
Clean Air Acts (articles and text of legislation), 1990s
14 157
Field burning in Oregon (data, reports, and articles), 1978-2002
14 158
Oregon grass seed production reports, 1991-1994
14 159-160
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)
15 165
Agricultural burning in California (newsletter), 1980
15 166-167
California rice straw (reports, handbook, burning information), 1997-2000
15 168
12 Hour back trajectories maps (Washington and Idaho), 1999-2000
15 169
Satellite smoke photographs (Washington and Idaho), 2001
15 170
Coeur d 'Alene Tribe blue grass meeting (agenda, notes, and resolution), 1997
15 171
Air pollution data from Spokane Crown Z and Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, 1997
15 172
Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer map, undated
15 173-175
Spokane County Air Pollution Control authority (air pollution public opinion survey, regulations, newsletter, and meeting minutes), 1991-1999
15 176
Spokane County agricultural burning data and regulations, 1997-1998
16 177
Whitman and Latah counties air quality data, 2000
16 178-179
Whitman County burn permits (application, reports, and permits), 1999 and 2001
16 180-182
Steve Mader burn enforcement case (photographs, notes, correspondence, reports, and permits), 1995-2002
16 183
Board of Whitman County Commissioners (correspondence and meeting minutes on field burning), 1998-1999
16 184-186
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 report
17 186.1
Environmental Protection Agency (continued)
17 187
Environmental Protection Agency Spokane hearing notes, 2000
17 188
Upper Columbia River Sierra Club newsletter, 1998
17 189
Washington Conservation Voters Grass Burning Survey, undated
17 190-198
[not used]
17 199
Tri-State Perennial Grass Seed Working Group (meeting minutes and program review report), 1993
17 200
Grass Seed Cropping Systems for a Sustainable Agriculture 4th annual conference (member list and conference proceedings), 1997
17 201
Intermountain Grass Growers Association (correspondence regarding grass burning and report on the utilization of grass straw), 1975 and 1995
17 202
Franklin county notice of intent to burn, 2000
17 203
Department of Natural Resources burn management plan, 1995
17 204
Permitted burn acreage (charts, data, and reports), 1992, 1995, 2001-2002
17 205
Agricultural burn permit summary, 1996 and 1998
17 206
Post burn reports, 1998
17 207
Agricultural burn enforcement data, 1999-2000
17 208
Washington State agricultural burning laws and bills; 1989, 1999-2000
17 209
Yakima County Clean Air Authority emission standards data, undated
17 210-212
Washington State Association of Wheat Growers (group finances, correspondence, press releases, press clippings, resolutions, and annual meeting proceedings, and newsletter articles), 1994-2001
17 213
Research notes (author unidentified; various topics related to field burning and SOS), undated

Series 3: Washington State Department of Ecology, 1989-2002Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
18 214-217
Correspondence (incoming, outgoing, and internal), 1989-2001
18 218
Press releases, 1998-2000
18 219-222
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)
19 224
Project description and work plan for best practices manual, 2001
19 225
Grass seed field burning alternative certification, 1998 and 2006
19 226
Burning responsiveness report, 1995
19 227
Lawrence Peterson harassment charge
19 228
Tom Fitzsimmons remarks at wheat growers convention, 1998
19 229
Research on alternatives to field burning, 1998
19 230
Budget and program overview report, 2000
19 231
Agricultural burn permit program audit, 2000
19 232-233
Agricultural burning evaluation panel (meeting agenda and reports), 2002
20 234
Burn penalty summaries, 1999-2000
20 235
Burn information (requirements, restrictions, and applications), 1990-2001
20 236
Symposium on particulate matter (presenter information), 2000
20 237
Air quality data, 2002
20 238-239
Alternatives to burning grant proposals, 2002
20 240
Air quality program (brochure, plans, report, and notes), 1995 and 2000-2001
20 241
Public outreach and education (brochures), 2002
20 242
Environmental Protection Agency review of burn program (correspondence and reports), 1999-2000

Series 4: Litigation Files, 1996-2002Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
20 243
Washington grass seed field burning emergency rule, 1999
20 244
Request to Environmental Protection Agency for review of field burning, 1999
20 245-247
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)
21 250
National Environmental Education Foundation report on Wheat Growers-Department of Ecology MOU controversy, 2000
21 251-252
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)
21 253-255
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)
23 265
Mediation and settlement agreements between SOS and DOE (correspondence and mediation and agreement documents), 2000-2001
23 266
Save Our Summers rule request for stubble burning (correspondence, drafts of rule request), 2000-2001
23 267
Clean Air Act and environmental protection cases, United States Supreme Court, 2000
23 268
Supreme Court ADA cases, 2001 and 2002
23 269-270
Save Our Summers v. State of Idaho (court documents, correspondence, and exhibits), 2000 and 2002
24 271-272
SOS v. Idaho (continued)
24 273-276
Litigation research organized for an unidentified case, 1996-2000

Series 5: Photographs and audiovisual media, 1992-2003Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Photographs showing smoke from agricultural burning on the Palouse, 1998-2003 and undated
Audiocassettes of hearings on agricultural burning, 1990-1996 and undated
Video recordings (VHS format; newscasts, committee meetings, and agricultural burning information), 1992-1998 and undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

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

Corporate Names

  • Save Our Summers -- Records and correspondence.