Editorials

Rec district reconnaissance

As interest in the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District heats up, the voters will have several opportunities to learn more about it at public meetings.

The forums will offer not only information but also a chance to hear from, and question, the 13 candidates who are running for five seats on the board of directors that will oversee the district — if it is approved in an April 22 election.

Two community meetings have been scheduled by Friends of the Recreation District: at the Mazama Community Club on Thursday (March 13) and at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink on March 20. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

Board candidates have been invited to appear at a public forum on March 27 at the Twisp Valley Grange, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

We encourage interested residents to attend whatever meetings they can get to, and perhaps learn something different from what you’ve been reading in letters to the editor or hearing from neighbors.

Don’t be distracted by the “parade of horribles” being trotted out by district opponents, some of which are exaggerated, speculative, irrelevant or just plain wrong. Nor should you accept at face value the benign assurances of district supporters. Focus on facts, and not wild-eyed projections about what might or might not happen if the district is formed. Ask the candidates probing but fair questions.

Simply voting “against taxes” or “for recreation” isn’t a well thought-out position. Take advantage of the opportunity to be fully informed. The election has long-term implications for the valley. It deserves everyone’s careful consideration.

 

The right path

Whatever the politics or legal challenges that came into play, the Okanogan County commissioners did the wise and practical thing last week when they repealed two ordinances that would have opened up hundreds of miles of roads around the county to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The ordinances were hurried, flawed and presumptuous. Revoking them will give everyone a chance to take a deep breath and bring a more measured and responsible approach to the issue of ATV access. Perhaps it’s time to revisit an earlier plan that was worked out at a statewide level to address both the rights of ATV users and the environmental concerns raised by increased access.

As we said before, the commissioners’ precipitous earlier actions didn’t do ATV advocates any favors. Instead, the previous ordinances raised the issue to a much more confrontational level and invoked a lawsuit by the Methow Valley Citizens Council. None of that had to happen.

The question of ATV access won’t go away, nor should it. In the future, proposals for ATV use will go through an environmental review with public input. Process isn’t fun and it isn’t fast, but it can result in a better outcome for everybody.

— Don Nelson