A great event

Dear Editor:

We recently attended and participated in the Ski for Light program in Mazama. A special thanks goes to Nancy Milsteadt of Winthrop, who organized and orchestrated the rewarding local event. The organization is for blind and mobility-impaired skiers. About 20 participants skied along with their guides. One skier came from Sacramento, California, and another from Alberta, Canada.

Methow Trails groomers did a great job double-tracking for the skiers to be able to ski alongside with their guides. It was really heart-warming to see the local guides who donated their time. The Mazama Country Inn was a very cordial host for the group. Thanks to all.

Betty Wagoner, Twisp

Julie Hensley. Brewster

Ill-conceived plan

Dear Editor:

Now is a good time to voice your opposition to the Okanogan Public Utility District’s (PUD) plan to build a very expensive hydroelectric facility and powerhouse using the existing 100-year-old Enloe dam on the little Similkameen River just west of the town of Oroville in north Okanogan County. 

So far the PUD has spent $14 million on what amounts to preliminary studies and lobbying efforts in preparation for the construction of their proposed plan. That’s an enormous amount of money, and if the PUD’s past estimates are any indication, you can expect the eventual cost of a completed Enloe hydro facility to exceed $100 million or more. If this ill-conceived hydroelectric project becomes a reality you can expect to see your electric rates increase alarmingly for the foreseeable future and beyond. 

Make no mistake, the PUD commissioners are flying by the seat of their pants using exaggerated and unrealistic estimates of the profitability and output of their proposed hydroelectric facility as their reason for forging ahead with this ill-conceived and reckless proposal. Further, their claim that they will be held responsible for dam removal is fallacious and I believe completely false.

Draining the swamp may be the only solution to get our public utility district back on track before it’s too late. 

Mark Kubiak, Oroville

Gross mismanagement

Dear Editor:

The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) is raising our electric rates again! Why, you may ask? Because they need us all to pay for their blind, blundering board policy and gross mismanagement by our well-paid professional staff.

In 2018 our PUD will get a huge surge of new power from Wells Dam thanks to a power-sharing agreement with Douglas County Public Utility District. The 22 percent increase we will receive is 38 times more than we will generate at Enloe Dam each day. So much power will be flowing from Wells Dam to Okanogan PUD that they will have more energy on the wire in 2-1/2 days from Wells than Enloe Dam will produce in a single year. Wells Dam power will be very economical, costing only 3.4 cents per kilowatt per hour, allowing the Okanogan PUD to make a handsome profit.  

The 1.5 million mega-watt hours we will receive will net the PUD about $10.5 million in additional annual revenue beginning in 2019. The extra income could be used to upgrade our transmission lines and our substations. We could replace a lot of the old poles and undersized wires across the county. We need to do all that. They could even lower our monthly electric bills. Wouldn’t that be great!

Well, forget about that! Instead they will pour a large sum into the money pit on the Similkameen River that the commissioners call “the “poster child for small-scale hydro,” Enloe Dam. They should all be fired, beginning with the manager.

Joseph Enzensperger, Oroville

No need for restoration

Dear Editor:

A solicitation came in my morning mail. The photo appears to be bull trout; I’ve never seen one this large in breeding condition. They seem to be in fine shape in a suitable environment. There’s no obvious reason these ESA-listed salmonids need to be subjected to a “restoration” project that calls for commercial logging of 8 million board feet of large trees in the headwaters of two Methow sub-watersheds (Libby and Buttermilk Creeks) they occupy. 

If District Ranger Liu is really interested in these fish and restoring the forest he wouldn’t be supporting the logging and grazing activities that the environmental assessment states have put their critical habitat “at-risk” to fish production in Libby Creek.

This project will result in more sediment from roads associated with the planned logging and thinning of over 10,000 acres and prescribed burning of over 8,000 acres. The environmental assessment states that increased sedimentation will have long-term (by Forest Service definition) negative effects on fish production from loss of ground cover associated with these activities. Planned improvements to benefit fish and wildlife can be achieved by changing management actions without extensive logging or spending over $2 million of public funds for post-logging “restoration” activities.

Thank you for doing what you can to help folks become aware of the plans and public resource damage the planned Mission Project would produce.

Don Johnson, Carlton

Protect public lands

Dear Editor:

Our state representative, Cary Condotta, has recently sponsored House Bill 1103. This bill will authorize the state of Washington to demand the transfer of most of the federal lands to state control, including all non-wilderness designated National Forest property and BLM land. This ploy will be familiar to Okanogan County residents who remember our former county commissioners’ fixation on returning federal land “to the people.”

The problem with this scheme is that the state of Washington can not afford to manage these lands properly. It seems that transferring these lands is a major step towards selling them off to private ownership, or at least leasing them off to private companies for wholesale natural resource gutting in order to bring in revenue to manage the lands.  Either scenario is disastrous for public access to our cherished lands.

The economy of the Methow Valley depends heavily on our proximity to federally protected public land. The independent nonpartisan research group Headwaters Economics have published a study revealing that, “From 1970-2014, western rural counties with the highest share of federal lands on average had faster population, employment, personal income, and per capita income growth than their peers with the lowest share of federal lands.”

If you hunt, fish, swim, hike, climb or wander in this beautiful place we call home, or you care about the economic future of our community, call Representative Condotta today at (360) 786-7954 and demand he removes his support for HB 1103. Once our public lands are gone, they are gone forever.

Kelly Grayum, Twisp

The real costs

Dear Editor:

I wrote last month that Trump’s plan to build a wall now needs at least $25 billion in U.S. taxpayer money. Well, keep watching your wallets, folks.

Next is the gutting or elimination of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Its main purpose is to protect consumers from financial scams, and fraud by banks and other businesses. Fraudulent debt collection of student loans has also been a major target. Since it started in 2012, the CFPB has gotten back over $11 billion for over 27 million consumers, in cash and debt reductions.

In a wonderful touch of irony, one stated reason for killing the CFPB is — can you guess? — to create jobs. Jobs as scammers? I’m thinking of all the crooked salespeople who worked for the now defunct Trump University. They could find all sorts of new scammer jobs.

Watch those tax cuts, too. Weren’t we all (from the left to the right) unhappy with decades of promises to restore the middle class and redress the big tax cuts that billionaires get? Didn’t Bernie, Hillary and Trump all promise to change that if elected? Guess what, folks. The numbers are in for the House Republicans’ proposed tax cuts. As usual, they’re mostly for the rich.

People earning $48,000- $83,000 will get an average tax cut of $260. Those in the top 0.1 percent, earning over $3.7 million, will get average tax cuts over $1.2 million! Tax cuts for corporations are also tremendous. So are the resulting new deficits.

Finally, big agribusiness owners, many of whom supported Trump, are now predicting crippling labor shortages if they can’t use Mexican labor to work their farms. For example, as many as 70 percent of California Central Valley farm workers may be undocumented Mexicans. Without them, we’ll see soaring food prices and shortages. How many of those unemployed “build the wall” screamers will want to work in the fields at low wages? Not many.

If you care about any of this, please write to Rep. Newhouse and tell him.

Randy Brook, Twisp

Bad bills

Dear Editor:

I am writing to express my anger and deep concern at Washington State HB 1103 and HB 1008.

HB 1103 endorses the transfer of public lands to the state. HB 1008 would prohibit the acquisition of state lands by natural resources agencies. Both of these bills are bad for Washingtonians who utilize and enjoy public lands.

Hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen and women depend on public access to public lands to maintain our longstanding traditions. These bills would diminish public access and outdoor opportunities. Specifically, HB 1008 would set severe and unnecessary restrictions on growing our state lands endowment, exacerbating problems of overcrowding and degrading future experiences on state lands. HB 1103 would legislate the transfer of public lands, putting at risk our national forests, parks, wildlife refuges and other American-owned lands and waters.

What’s more, these bills are horrible for our local economy. Our public lands are the lifeblood of an annual $21.6 billion dollar outdoor economy in Washington state (Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office).

It is obvious what the “transfer movement” is all about: It’s one big land grab for private interests and the extraction industry. Ordinary Republicans, ordinary Democrats and ordinary Independents don’t agree with the eight Republican representatives who sponsored these bills, including our very own Cary Condotta. Call him at (360) 786-7954 and let him know that public lands are vital to the activities that we cherish and our local economies. Tell him to knock it off! 

Justin Porter, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers , Twisp

Everyone included

Dear Editor:

We have a cabin in Lost River and come to the Methow about once a month.  

I feel like I learn how to be a better human being after I visit the Methow valley. I saw pictures of the Women’s March in Twisp. I was moved and uplifted and then I immediately thought of those that didn’t agree with the march.  

I hope they know they were included — at least in my thoughts and in many others. Their presence, thoughts and beliefs are part of what make this valley what it is — as much as the confluence of the rivers, the gentle open fields and the steep walls of the mountains. I am humbled by and grateful for the people that live here — and continue to learn from them. I hope you may never feel that you are against one another. You have been teaching me the opposite for over 20 years.

Jeremy Steward, Lost River/Mazama