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Unacceptable

Dear Editor:

From what I understand, the public (who would fund the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District) would have no input or control over projects or taxes levied. It is therefore completely unacceptable. Vote no.

Nadine Van Hees, Winthrop

 

Preventing sexual violence

Dear Editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s campaign is focused on youth. This April, it’s time– to talk about it! Your voice, our future. Prevent sexual violence. This campaign encourages individuals and communities to support healthy sexual development.

Young people face many challenges during adolescence. Stereotypes and negative messages in the media don’t make this process easy. By learning and talking about healthy adolescent sexuality, adults are able to support the teens in their lives. It’s time for adults and communities to be a resource to teens so they learn and grow.

How can we support teens during this time of change and discovery? Parents can start an open and honest dialogue. Ask questions and, most importantly listen. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. It’s more important to welcome questions and learn together. To create a vision for a future without sexual violence, every voice can play a role in a healthier, safer tomorrow for all.

Glenda Freel, Director of services, The Support Center, Okanogan

 

FEMA follies

Dear Editor:

Wise real estate buyers near waterways buy flood insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to floodsmart.gov, a FEMA website, the homes smashed in the mudslide at Oso were in a “moderate- to low-risk area.” Flood insurance policies on Steelhead Drive in Oso cost from $129 to $460 per year to cover both buildings and contents.

FEMA paid out nearly $8 billion in flood insurance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy of 2012. These areas FEMA now rates as high-risk for future flooding. In the areas flooded in 2012, FEMA now simply requires that banks lending on real estate buy FEMA flood insurance. The taxpayer will pay for the next flood the same place in just a few years.

It is crazy that FEMA issues new flood insurance for places that have flooded and required a payout. Flood insurance is fine, but it should be used to prevent building in obviously hazardous locations. Once a site has proven to be flood-prone, FEMA should deny further insurance on new buildings. The result will be to return low-lying lands to open space. Instead, FEMA serves to encourage development in flood-prone areas. Good for banks, but bad for both the taxpayer and the environment.

Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop

 

Live with your choice

Dear Editor:

Re: wolves attack dog, March 26. Yes, it’s true: Wolves will attack dogs if the dog is available to be attacked.

And the reporter is right: If the wolves had wanted to kill the dog, they would have done so. Clearly they didn’t.

I grew up in the bush in Alaska, 78 miles from Fairbanks. Wolf country. I loved hearing the wolves howl in the August dusk when they came down to our valley. But we knew to keep our dogs close and safe.

We had Samoyeds, and when the wolves came down, the dogs strained to go out. Dogs are descended from wolves. They are naturally attracted to them. But it’s a fatal attraction.

We knew the wolves would call to our dogs and the dogs would try to follow. But we also knew that if they did, the wolves would tear them to shreds; so we kept our dogs close and safe when the wolves came down.

Here in the Methow, we choose to live with wolves, bears, eagles, coyotes and cougars. If we want the safety of Bellevue, that’s where we should live.

If we want to live in the woods, or very close to them, we have to take precautions. This means we don’t let our dogs run free and hope they don’t encounter wolves or bears or eagles or cougars.

This is the price of living in the woods. It’s a dear price, but it’s the price.

If we don’t want to be vigilant, we can always move. Our dogs and our wildlife can’t move. Our dogs can’t protect themselves.

How about we protect our dogs so we don’t have to start another ugly campaign against the resident wildlife, which is why so many of us choose to live here in the first place?

I can hardly wait to hear the song of the wolves in Lost River. If I am lucky they will howl in the August dusk. And I will keep my good dog close and safe.

Julianne Seeman, Mazama

 

Weigh the costs

Dear Editor:

I cringe at the thought of the Methow Valley becoming like Hailey, Idaho (“Now is the time,” letters to the editor, March 26).

Hailey is my home territory. I grew up 60 miles south of there, and moved to Hailey in the early 1970s. My grandparents retired there to fish; our son was born there. Hailey used to be a sleepy little town surrounded by the great outdoors, fantastic mountains, beautiful lakes, rivers, great places to hike, fish, bike, camp, ski, backpack. No stop signs on the state highway all the way through the valley. Nobody ever locked their doors.

Then Sun Valley changed ownership, and the boom began. Now, Hailey and vicinity have everything a small mountain valley could ever want. Miles of paved trails, indoor aquatic and recreation center, polo field, expanded ball fields, symphony hall, festivals year-round, designer shopping, convention centers, all-star concerts, expanded airport, hospitals, animal shelter, grocery stores with anything you could ever want (at the appropriate price, of course), and much more.

The down side is the four-lane highway through the valley, stoplights, congested parking lots, condos galore, literally hundreds of million-dollar homes that can’t sell because the valley is so overbuilt, and a tax base that has driven the labor force out of the valley to Fairfield, Shoshone, Jerome and as far as Twin Falls. As a result, there’s a traffic jam twice a day, every day, coming and going. Perhaps the four-lane road will expand to six lanes sometime to accommodate. And to camp at Redfish, Alturas or the Sawtooth campgrounds, you need a reservation months in advance, if you can get one at all. We left Hailey in the late 1980s; I wouldn’t return there to live for anything.

Every community needs to weigh its priorities. Most certainly, our valley will continue to grow. I’m not one to lament the good old days, but we need to weigh the pros and cons of our rush to development very carefully before we price ourselves right out of the valley we all love and enjoy.

Lynette Westendorf, Winthrop

 

There’s a better way

Dear Editor:

Isn’t it striking that both the Friends of the Recreation District (FORD) and the opposition agree that we don’t need or want an RCW 35.61 metropolitan park district?

That statute creates new governmental entities with the sweeping powers major cities have to acquire, own and expand their own parks, airports and playgrounds. These are the kinds of vast powers needed to realize grand visions, like creating a fly-in, world-destination Nordic ski area, or clawing our way down to the Columbia River and back with eminent domain to put in some truly spectacular bike paths.

For our needs, RCW 35.61 is overkill. In fact, the FORD candidates agree and promise not to use any of the RCW 35.61 statutory powers, except to levy taxes. They envision using the district’s tax revenues as no-strings-attached funding for other entities’ recreational facilities, not its own.

But why create a new layer of government with powers that no one wants it to have? Let’s dump the metropolitan parks district and create a Parks and Recreation (P&R) District under RCW 36.69 instead. P&R districts only have limited powers — but precisely the powers needed to finance recreational facilities jointly with others. Instead of eminent domain and the power to run and expand airports, P&R districts have annual budgets and can only spend “solely in accordance with the budget.”

To be sure, creating a P&R district will require more work, petitions and another election. Because Winthrop, Twisp and the Okanogan County commissioners will have to approve it, we’ll need to develop a specific proposal that realizes our shared vision for community-supported recreation that all stakeholders, including nonvoting landowners, can support. It means assessing our recreational assets, documenting our needs and laying out specific plans that address actual needs.

We need more than a vision. It’s time for a real business plan with estimates and projections justified by facts. In short, it means spelling out exactly why we need a new layer of government to invest in recreation, what it will do, and how much it will cost.

This is about creating a new government — let’s do it right.

Michael Brady, Winthrop

 

Broken system

Dear Editor:

Recently I went fishing with my kayak on Leader Lake. I’d purchased a state fishing license, which came with a parking pass, and had my seat cushion/flotation device onboard. Before launching, I cleaned up the entire campground.

Before long, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer arrived, and yelled at me from shore to see my license and parking pass. I told him I had a trout on the line, but he could retrieve them from my tackle box, which was onshore. He informed me that my parking pass was no longer valid for DNR lands. He issued me a warning to purchase a $35 Discover Pass within 15 days, or be issued a ticket, then asked me to row ashore so he could inspect my life vest.

In all the hubbub, I dropped my pole in the water, where it sank to the bottom. I told him if I rowed in, I’d never be able to relocate it. He insisted, whereupon he inspected my flotation device, deemed it insufficient, and issued me an $87 ticket.

I’m concerned that our “public lands” are becoming less and less accessible to the poor and middle class because of the aggressive issuance of revenue-producing fines and the increased implementation of paid passes to enjoy them. Leader Lake is frequented, often, by low-income Hispanic and white families — many of whom do not have the resources to withstand heavy tolls. I fear that this demographic will disappear from the landscape if these practices continue. Our parks will be affordable only for the rich and white.

These fees/fines amount to a regressive tax, which disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. Even with these structures in place, many state parks are dirty and rundown. The fixes to these endemic problems are so simple. Tax corporations and the wealthy at much higher rates, as in the past, so that parks, schools, roads and libraries can be properly maintained. Stop shaking the public down and instituting more fees to people who simply want to get outdoors and be in nature. The system is broken and it’s abundantly clear where the problem lies.

Laura Love, Twisp

 

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