EditorialsRec reckoning

As could have been expected, questions are being raised about the formation of a Methow Valley Recreation District now that the proposal is on the ballot. Residents of the Methow Valley School District, the defined boundaries of the proposed rec district, will vote on the issue in April, and at the same time will elect a board of directors to oversee the district if it is approved.

The idea has broad support in the valley, as evidenced by the number of petition signatures gathered to qualify the proposal for a public vote. Recreation district supporters have worked hard to come up with a framework for forming and operating the new entity. They have not tried to overstate or firmly predict what the district might actually do, or how much of the allotted tax levy it would raise to support its mission. Those questions will be settled by the board of directors.

That’s not necessarily a satisfying answer to those raising concerns about the rec district — in particular that it would have the power of eminent domain, that its tax levy might be onerous and that the statute under which it would be created isn’t the best structure for such an organization.

It’s good that the issue is getting some attention and dissection. A robust public discussion should generate information that will help people make up their minds.

It will also be interesting to see who runs for the five at-large board positions that will be on the April ballot. It’s possible that not only supporters of the district but also critics will be on the list of candidates.

Voters will likely be asked to balance philosophical support for the district against practical implications. Ultimately the questions will be decided in the best possible way — by the voters.


Deal with it

Will everyone who is surprised to learn that (a) we live in cougar habitat and that (b) occasionally they will eat animals owned by human beings, please raise their hands? Nobody? OK, so we all understand where we are.

Cougars are territorial predators, and we have chosen to settle in and continue to occupy their territory. Sure, it’s scary and problematic when they intrude on “our” spaces, and it’s sometimes necessary to respond lethally when they start to develop a taste for domestic stock and wandering pets. But as for acting all outraged and indignant about their presence, give it a rest.

Cougars have no more reason to vacate the valley than we do, and they were here first. Those of us who choose this magnificent natural setting have no reason to overreact when nature asserts itself.

– Don Nelson