Organizations celebrate decades of service to valley
By Ann McCreary
Two Methow Valley nonprofits — Methow Trails and the Methow Conservancy — invite the public to a combined birthday bash on Saturday (Jan. 21) at the Winthrop Barn, with dance music provided by The Paperboys.
Both organizations promise no fancy fundraising or gimmicks, or long speeches. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com.
Methow Trails is celebrating 40 years of providing recreational trails in the Methow Valley.
The organization grew out of the vision of a handful of valley residents who formed the Methow Valley Family Sports Club in 1977. Working with private landowners and various agencies they began developing ski trails in the valley.
By 1980 the organization changed its name to the Methow Valley Ski Touring Association and hired its first staff. From 1995 to 2014 it was known as the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association, until the name was shortened to Methow Trails.
Since its grassroots beginnings, the organization has facilitated the development of the nation’s largest Nordic ski trail system, transforming a disconnected series of trails into an expansive network with nearly 200 kilometers of all-season trails surrounded by national wilderness and forest lands.
The 32-kilometer Community Trails remains the central trail corridor through the valley and connects Mazama, Winthrop and Sun Mountain Lodge.
The trail system has become a major economic driver in the valley, generating about $4.5 million directly, another $4.1 million indirectly, and another $2.7 million annually through related earnings, according to information from Methow Trails.
The Methow Conservancy celebrates 20 years this year. The organization got its start through a merger in 1996 between the Methow Valley Land Trust and the Methow Valley Environmental Center.
The Methow Conservancy began with a vision to protect land in the valley and inspire people to know more about the natural history.
Over the years it has protected more than 8,500 acres of wildlife habitat, agricultural land, and scenic views in the Methow Valley through 110 conservation easements.
The conservancy has developed an active educational program, offering popular “First Tuesday” community presentations, as well as a variety of field classes focused on topics like birding, wildflowers and nature journaling.
The organization has also become involved in helping restore lands damaged by wildfire, sponsoring “seed mobs” to reseed areas scarred by fire lines and severe burns. The Conservancy has also taken a role in issues including the Methow Headwaters Campaign and long-term recovery from wildfire.
Methow Conservancy now has a staff of 11 and a membership base of more than 1,000 households and local businesses.