Consider the science
In the Libby Creek-Buttermilk watersheds of the Methow Valley, the U.S. Forest Service will soon decide on a proposal promoted by the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative (NCWFHC) recommending “treatments” implemented in selected areas among 50,000 acres of forest. The net result? Removing 5 million board feet of timber from the Libby Creek Watershed; removal of 3.5 million board feet of timber from Buttermilk. On Libby Creek, this equates to about 1,500 round-trip log truck hauls spanning as long as three years. Collaborative members/supporters include prominent “conservation” groups and logging companies. An NCWFHC public meeting in Twisp on Jan. 20 presented this as a foregone conclusion with little consideration of alternative strategies.
The primary treatment tool will be mechanized “thinning” in patterns of “individuals, clumps, and openings” guided by computer modeling. The rationale is reduction of ladder fuels in hopes of reducing catastrophic fires. Curiously, logging will occur in remote areas, away from human habitation and infrastructure.
This upgraded version of forest science is quite new and has acknowledged that no long-term studies exist to support that which is promised. Let’s be frank and call this what it is: a large-scale experiment on public lands. Before we get too swept up and sold on the idea of this strategy, let’s consider that science, for all its good, has shortfalls and biases. The FDA, for example, is responsible for protecting and promoting public health. Yet educated researchers and lengthy trials still result in the release of harmful products.
If you question this proposal, contact your Methow, Chelan and other local district rangers.
Forest collaboratives operate widely in the West and could arrive next in your backyard.
Lee Cobert, Carlton
On Feb. 9 we will be voting on two school levies that are in addition to the two levies we passed last spring. The combined effect of these four levies will be an increase in the property taxes of the average home in the district over the next five years of $248 per year or a total of $1,240. The proponents of the two proposed levies suggest there will be an increase of only $5 per month. That is a deceptive argument when they overlook the tax impact of the two previous levies which we won’t see on our tax statements until after the election.
Proponents also argue that we currently have one of the lowest levy rates in the state. This is also a deceptive argument when you consider we have a very high district-wide assessed valuation relative to enrollment. This simply means with a relatively low levy rate we can still have very high per-student spending. In fact, the state average expenditure per student is about $10,000 while our district currently spends $12,990 per student.
When you read the district’s 2015-2016 “Budget Highlights,” you see an extremely extensive list of new initiatives and expanded programs, including implementation of the extremely expensive International Baccalaureate program, expansion of the robotics program, initiation of an “Internship Coordinator,” acquisition of such things as a new 10-passenger van and a 3D printer, and on and on.
Before the district considers many of these extravagances, they need to consider more pressing needs. For instance, the state mandates 180 student classroom days. We now pay for six “professional days” for teacher training which are taken away from the students. When you combine those with “early release” days, the district is only providing 169 days of instruction. If the district is really looking out for the kids, they need to significantly realign their priorities. And we need to demand that our kids are getting our money’s worth.
Richard DeFaccio, Twisp
Support the levies
Like a few of the previous letter writers, my wife and I are also on a fixed income, but we’re supporting both school levies and here’s why.
We’re proud to support a school system that graduates 95 percent of its students in four years. We’re constantly amazed by the young people we meet in the valley. They exhibit the qualities of citizenship this area and country will need in the future.
Recently my wife and I were fortunate to spend a few hours volunteering at the elementary school. The students were polite and anxious to carry out the tasks given them. Obviously the teachers, staff and parents are doing something right.
I’m not shy when it comes to complaining about my tax dollars wasted on ineffective programs, but I’m also glad to pay taxes to support programs that actually work and that’s what we have in the Methow — schools that work for the students and all the valley residents.
Please support both levies with your “yes” vote on the ballot.
Bill Bley, Winthrop
Ice at last
Dreams really do come true! If everything goes as planned our amazingly giving community should have a fully functional refrigerated ice rink by this weekend. With 13 miles of pipes, 16 tons of rebar and a whopping 165 tons of cement on the slab, combined with the 15,000-pound “chiller” unit for refrigeration and the fanciest building in Winthrop, we are ready to roll.
This feat was made possible from the driving “Energy Bunny” voice of Marc Robertson, the “asking” voice of Laurie Ulmer, combined with the complete generosity of 33 different local businesses and 236 volunteers (4,620 total hours). According to the rules of the state Recreation and Conservation Office, which provided our matching funds grant, the total value of these services is $233,970. Holy cats! Methow Valley people, I love you! Thank you, thank you, thank you. The benefits to our community will be far-reaching for many years to come as visitors and locals engage in a very unique outdoor ice rink experience.
Check the website at winthropicerink.com and c’mon down to view the site and spin a few laps. If you have an Okanogan county fourth-grade child, they get to skate free.
The Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink is full of gratitude.
Jill Calvert, Board president, Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink
As a parent and the director of Classroom in Bloom, I write you today to voice my support for our Methow Valley schools and to encourage our community to vote yes on the current levies up for renewal.
From where I stand, our schools are doing an incredible job educating our children and providing engaging extracurricular activities. Our teachers and the administration are passionate about our students’ educational growth and personal development. The Methow Valley School District has reached out to partner with Methow Arts, Classroom in Bloom, Methow Conservancy and TwispWorks to bring deeper exploration of the arts, natural sciences, nutrition, ecology and industrial trades into the classroom.
This year Cub Club (our after-school program) has expanded from serving nearly 10 students per week to having 97 students participating in at least one club per week. These new clubs include: Ski, Ice Skating, Chess, Art, Robotics, Dance, Math and Horses — thanks again to strong partnerships with PSFA, Methow Arts, The Merc Playhouse, Methow Valley Riding Unlimited, Methow Nordic, and the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink. The district has added bus transportation after the clubs on Monday and Wednesdays, allowing more kids to participate. Many people are coming together to make this happen and it’s thrilling to see so many kids benefit at such a low cost.
Be inspired by a how much our community cares about our kids and is willing to volunteer time and resources to make great things happen. Please vote yes on the levies this week to voice your support of our schools!
Kate Posey, Twisp
I am writing this letter in support of replacing two expiring levies that are essential for the Methow Valley School District’s educational programming.
I am proud of the outstanding educational progress of this school district. Our thoughtful and enthusiastic board, administration and staff are all dedicated in providing a top-notch educational experience with innovative teaching and learning for all of our students.
Our graduation rate is well above the state average. Let’s make sure our district can continue its commitment to the successes of our students, insuring that each and every one attains a life of fulfilling opportunity and achievement.
Please help pass these important levies. Drop your ballots in the mail today!
Jane Orme, Winthrop