Oppose DNR logging plans
As part-time Methow residents since the mid 1980s and the owners of the Gunn Ranch and Gunn Ranch trailhead, we are urging fellow Methow citizens to question and oppose the Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) attempt to log 735 acres on Virginia Ridge, the large forested area above Big Valley ranch that is visible from countless locations on and above the valley floor, including Sun Mountain Lodge. The stated purpose of this logging is to “treat” this forest to reduce catastrophic fire danger and to create more natural forest conditions. We support these goals but not how DNR is trying to achieve them here.
If approved by DNR and the Board of Natural Resources on May 1, DNR will log this forest from 150 trees per acre down to between 26-30 trees per acre with diameters of about 10-14-inch trees per acre (plus hundreds of small trees under 10 inches). The logging will leave behind an unsightly “row crop” of mostly spindly trees evenly spaced 42 feet apart, thousands of stumps, and dark-brown ruts from dragging the trees to 33 landings. Slash will be scattered everywhere.
We strongly support efforts to scientifically thin forests to make them more resilient to fire. We also accept that such logging will affect forested viewsheds. But DNR’s logging proposal for Virginia Ridge is more like an industrial timber sale than a restorative forest treatment designed to reduce fire danger and mimic natural forest conditions. Local forest fire experts believe that the remaining logging slash and DNR’s refusal to use controlled burn techniques to eliminate this slash will increase, not reduce, the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
DNR has also failed to consider how a forest “health” treatment will affect the scenic beauty of the valley and whether the sale could be designed to be less unsightly.
Please write DNR at firstname.lastname@example.org (File No. 17-113001) and ask them to withdraw the Virginia Ridge sale and to reconfigure the operation to protect our beautiful valley. You can also write directly to the Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, at email@example.com.
Peter Goldman, Martha Kongsgaard, Seattle
Celebrate Arbor Day
The Town of Twisp will have its annual Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, April 28, at noon at the Twisp Commons Park by the Community Center. Once again, for the 17th straight year, Twisp has been awarded “Tree City USA” status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
After the ceremony in the Commons Park, we will go to the Twisp City Park at the confluence of the mighty Methow and Twisp rivers, where we will clean up the debris from the magnificent Ponderosa pines that grace the grounds. Then we’ll hold a pruning clinic and do some needed maintenance on the oaks and maples at the park. It would be a good opportunity to come and learn the proper way to prune a tree, and identify the variety of trees at this very special place. How lucky are we to have a city park at the confluence of two of the most pristine rivers in the state of Washington? Where the salmon and steelhead still run? If you feel as strongly as I do about being a good steward of this amazing mountain valley, come on down and join the fun.
Tools to bring: wheelbarrows, rakes suitable for pinecones and pine needles, good gloves, and a smile (one of the better tools in the box).
One last thought: The best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago; the second-best time is today. We’ll plant a couple small deciduous tree seedlings along the new trail that passes thru the park by the Methow River. Call me at (509) 860-4478 for information. If you do plan to participate, give me a call so I can get an idea of how many to plan for.
Dwight Filer, Twisp
We were thrilled with the recent article about the efforts toward a new library to meet the needs of our growing community in Winthrop. There are two important points of clarification.
The first is that per contract, the North Central Regional Library system (NCRL) reimburses the town a defined dollar amount per square foot of the facility, regardless of size, to provide for operational costs such as utilities and janitorial services. So a new larger facility will not increase the potential cost to the Town of Winthrop. In fact, a new library can provide for community needs and expand opportunities by meeting the one-shot costs required to construct a building, because through the town’s contract with NCRL, maintenance, as well as all necessary staffing, programming and furnishing (as noted in the article), would be provided through the agreement with NCRL.
Secondly, while building in an environmentally responsible way is a goal of this project, LEED certification has not been identified as a priority, unless there were a donor excited to help make it happen. Specifications have not yet been determined. Ongoing community conversations, the Town of Winthrop Survey and the NCRL strategic survey from last year all continue to inform the needs and design of a possible new library. As the spearhead of a community effort to establish a new public building, Friends of the Winthrop Library has and continues to work diligently to be sure that the community is fully engaged in the needs and design process.
We are excited to continue our work with the community toward the development of a new library, which in building community, literacy, and learning in our special valley has the opportunity to truly transform and enhance our community.
Shannon Huffman Polson, Chair, Friends of the Winthrop Library
Bushwhacking through a trail-less valley in the heart of North Cascades, I came across some enormous tracks and a huge pile of scat that, having not seen their maker, I attributed to either Bigfoot or a grizzly bear. But that was over 35 years ago and I haven’t seen hide nor hair, nor heard of many sightings of either of them since then.
I hate to tell Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, but a “conservation ethic” is something we should have before a species is hunted and trapped practically to extinction and is in need of augmentation — as is the case with Washington’s grizzly bears. Now that would be a real success story. And the few hundred specimens in the Greater Yellowstone area do not add up to a recovered species for the lower 48.
Yet, no sooner did our current administration remove the imperiled bears from the Threatened Species List did the state of Wyoming set a plan to hunt 24 grizzlies this fall season. Meanwhile, Idaho, with an even lower population of grizzly bears, felt it could sacrifice one to five of them to trophy hunting, if only to get their goose-stepping foot in the door on the issue.
It’s worth noting that British Columbia recently banned trophy hunting of grizzlies, and Montana has not yet made plans for a sport hunt on that species. The question for Washington is, which neighbors will we emulate now that the bears have lost their ESA protections?
And what’s next for the Northwest, a trophy hunt on Sasquatch? Believe me, you don’t want that smelly hominid hide hanging on your wall — not if you ever want to have houseguests.
Jim Robertson, Twisp
Dave Roberts, our senior developer, and I visited the wintry valley in early February and enjoyed meeting with Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody and an enthusiastic group of citizens at the Methow Valley Community Center. We both thank you for your personal warmth and for the vibrant discussion we held with regard to desires, concerns and ideas for addressing affordable housing needs in the area. We wish to offer an update on our endeavors in the last six weeks and a glimpse ahead.
To protect privacy, we can’t disclose specific names or sites but, with professional representation, we have actively inquired about and begun the process of “vetting” several development site candidates. A couple of property owners have also reached out to us — we’re most appreciative. It will be helpful for everyone to understand that, likely, it will be two years before we break ground on a project.
We took a first step, however, and submitted a pre-application to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, Iowa, from which we expect to obtain technical assistance and counsel about our application’s competitiveness when funding applications will be submitted in May. To do so, we crafted an application around a hypothetical vacant land site where we could construct a modest-sized multifamily complex.
We’ll honor our commitment to involve Methow Valley stakeholders in our planning. With this pre-application, we made assumptions about populations served, income levels, size of the project, costs, etc. Certainly, some, perhaps many of these, will change when we prepare a full application so, we will be in touch.
Resources to develop more-affordable housing inventory continue to be scarce so, typically, this is a long process that requires patience and persistence. It’s vital to have —and we’re grateful to receive — community support for helping us all have a place to call home.
Fred Peck, Executive Director, Spokane Housing Ventures