Thanks from Ski for Women

Dear Editor:

We would, once again, like to thank the many people and volunteers who joined the fun at the Methow Valley Ski for Women on Feb. 5. Participants in creative and colorful costumes depicting fantasy characters enjoyed the skiing activities of the morning. Awards were presented in many unique categories and the winners took home homemade wooden spoons made by Ken Rice.

Thanks to Methow Trails, the Mazama Community Club, Don Portman, Jeremiah Fosness, the Methow Valley News, Don Ashford, and Room One for providing support.

Special thanks goes to the Freestone Inn for serving an enjoyable free lunch to the participants and volunteers after the event.

One hundred percent of the donations received were donated to Room One. As of the writing of this letter, $2,244 has been raised.

For all you competitive costume-makers, next year’s theme will be “Real and Imagined Animals.”

Jackie Hovis, Jacquie Luke, Jojo Howard, Ken Rice, Midge Cross, Dee Christensen, Methow Valley Ski for Women Planning Committee

The grizzly question

Dear Editor:

I found it instructive with regard to grizzly restoration proposals to take a look at what has been happening in other states, namely Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where conservation and relocation efforts have been implemented. With conservation efforts, the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly population had increased from 150 to 400-600 bears by 2000. Other ecosystems, including the North Cascades, were identified in the 1990s, with suitable habitat for grizzly recovery and that had historic populations of grizzlies. By the early 2000s, Yellowstone’s bear population had reached the carrying capacity for the ecosystem. No one told the bears, so they continued to reproduce and expand to fill the entire ecosystem. They also moved into adjoining territories.

In 2007, U.S. Fish and Wildlife moved to delist the grizzlies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. They were coming in conflict with both humans and livestock in the surrounding communities. Environmental groups sued. The delisting went nowhere. By 2015, state officials in all three states were getting understandably agitated to manage their bear populations, putting pressure on U.S. Fish and Wildlife for action. In 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife moved again to delist in all three states and I was told by their spokesman at the open house in Winthrop that lawsuits had been filed against this motion, and if delisting failed they may have to take action through Congress.

Currently, the government can’t authorize hunting them to control numbers, but they do move the bears around. Recently they moved about 18 from the Flat River Valley south of Glacier Park to the Cabinet Mountains near Coeur d’Alene Idaho.

Do we really want to import this problem into Washington state? Communities like the Methow will be in the front line of any future conflicts — the identified release sites planned for the bears are close in terms of grizzly miles. One of the reasons plans didn’t go forward in the Idaho Bitterroot ecosystem was the federal government “felt legitimate concerns of the current residents of the Bitterroot ecosystem against reintroduction were warranted.” So get working on those comments.

Chris Jennings, Winthrop

Stand up for Medicare

Dear Editor:

For all those who voted for Donald Trump for president, and all those who voted for Hillary Clinton, now is the time to hold Republican leadership accountable to honor the promise of both candidates: to preserve Medicare.

“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that,” then-candidate Trump said at a New Hampshire rally during the primaries. “It’s not fair to the people who have been paying for years.”

Yet within days of Trump’s victory, House Speaker Paul Ryan revived his plan to privatize Medicare. Instead of a fixed health benefit, which Medicare currently guarantees, the federal government would offer a “fixed contribution,” leaving consumers to negotiate with private health insurances for health benefits using a voucher. Ryan’s plan would also increase the enrollment age from 65 to 67. Bipartisan groups, such as the AARP, oppose this plan, arguing that it will force increased costs on vulnerable seniors with less guarantee of services.

If you want to hold Trump accountable to his campaign promise to preserve the guaranteed health benefit of Medicare, and oppose the Republican leadership plan to privatize Medicare, now is the time to let your Congressional representative know. Please call Rep. Newhouse at (202) 225-5816 today to let him know that on this issue, Okanogan county residents stand together.

Chris Hogness, Mazama

Feeling safe at home

Dear Editor:

A terrific turnout for the Headwaters Campaign film release this past Sunday! Bill Pope played a major role in spearheading the campaign. Maggie Coon spoke beautifully and informatively about the campaign up front. Hannah Dewey is the true champ of gathering participants. And Benj and Sarah-Jo distilled countless hours of footage/interviews to a short series of poignant testimony for keeping the Methow clean.

For the record, this is a mostly pure place. As a farmer I spoke of the role this mostly untarnished countryside plays in producing clean and nutritious food. Of all the crops I’ve grown here, however, the most important one we have is our children. Raising kids here is what has made me cherish this place most. I concur completely with Bud Hover that it never ever disappoints to come back to this valley and know it as home. I want Methow children to feel their home is safe, and to know it will always be a welcoming place to return.

An open pit copper mine at the head of the valley would absolutely negate this, and so much more. I hope our county commissioners see it prudent to swiftly join us in this campaign.

Sam Lucy, Rendezvous

Communicate with us

Dear Editor:

This week, Feb. 18-26, is an in-district work week for the House of Representatives, during which members of Congress are supposed to be meeting and communicating with constituents. Yet it appears that Representative Newhouse will not be attending a single event open to the public, despite numerous requests to do so. Furthermore, he hasn’t made clear what exactly he’s choosing to do that takes priority over holding a public event.

A staffer in Washington, D.C., said she “cannot give [me] the congressman’s schedule for security reasons.” A local staffer has said Newhouse is spending the week in Washington state in pre-arranged meetings with constituents and state legislators, but could not say with whom, when, or exactly where. She also said that the public has made “very clear” that they would like Newhouse to attend a town hall event as soon as possible.

Despite this clear and massive demand for Newhouse to attend a town hall event this week, at a formative time in our nation’s history, with political energy in many communities at its highest point in decades, it does not feel like Newhouse is listening.

Mr. Newhouse, the people you have been elected to represent have made very clear their need to meet and hear from you. Constituents are spending countless hours trying to communicate with you. Your job is to communicate back by letting us know how you are spending this recess and when we can next see you at a public event.

Fellow citizens, regardless of your party affiliation and political preferences, I encourage you to contact Representative Newhouse’s staff at (509) 452-3243 and ask that he communicate more openly with all of us. Ask that he commit to attending a peaceful, civil town hall as soon as possible.

Cam Alford, Winthrop