By Don Nelson
We are now less than six months away from what you might call the one-year anniversary of the Carlton Complex Fire, which started its rampage on or about July 14, 2014. So it’s a little unnerving to learn, as we did from reporter Ann McCreary’s story in last week’s issue, that the coming summer already promises another “active fire season” based on current weather patterns and long-term forecasts.
We had about as much “active” as we could stand last year and could do without the excitement. Don’t expect a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the Carlton Complex from anyone around here. But here at the News, we are already thinking about our “one year later” coverage, even as we take a breather after the enormous effort of producing Trial by Fire. As we noted, the story is still unfolding.
The realization that half-a-year has gone by already is sobering — events and their consequences piled up so quickly that, perhaps mercifully, time flew by. Points in time aren’t necessarily noteworthy in and of themselves except as a reminder of how much has transpired, and how much more needs to be done.
The wonderful winter we are enjoying is a blessing that is helping to restore our economy, our spirits and our emotional equilibrium. But once we emerge from the “shoulder season” and into summer, there will be many Carlton Complex remnants to deal with. The mantle of snow now disguising the damage will be gone, and the work of recovery will accelerate.
In the meantime, it’s instructive to remind everyone about the mission of Methow Valley Long Term Recovery, the nonprofit community group that is working on many aspects of restoration including the local economy, housing, agriculture, land restoration, emergency services, communications and public infrastructure. The organization is mostly made up of local volunteers who are lending their time and expertise in an effort to come up with realistic, lasting solutions. And any one of those solutions will require time, money and persistence to become reality.
It would be easier to just move on without taking much action, hoping for a better outcome next time, rather than concentrate on the hard work of preparedness. That’s not just the responsibility of Methow Valley Long Term Recovery. We all have a stake in recovery, so we should all have a hand in it as well. Time and nature won’t wait for us to respond.
Covering the Legislature
Again this year, the News will have access to stories generated by journalism interns who are covering the current legislative session in Olympia on behalf of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA).
The student interns — Alice Day and Cooper Inveen — are being overseen by veteran journalists Frank Garred and Andrea Otanez. They are writing stories intended for use by the WNPA’s member newspapers — mostly weeklies like the Methow Valley News — around the state.
Many of the stories will be necessarily broad in scope, but the interns will also zero in on issues that are more important to specific regions. We’ll use as many of the interns’ stories as are appropriate and that we have room for. It’s a way for us to provide some coverage of the Legislature’s workings without having someone there in person.