Homestream Park celebrates community, nature and culture
Over the past year, Phil and Cathy Davis engaged an entire community to create Homestream Park, a place that celebrates the rivers and fish of the Methow Valley.
A year’s worth of effort by a confluence of valley residents, businesses, organizations and First People descendants was celebrated by the community last Sunday (Oct. 13) in Winthrop. For the Davises – who purchased the land and funded the park’s construction – the theme “Coming Home” refers to “both the salmon and the Methow people whose relatives fished, hunted, gathered, and lived sustainably in the valley for thousands of years.”
Located at the intersection of Highway 20 and White Avenue in Winthrop, the 2-acre park is officially open to the public. A meandering trail starts at the “Water is Life” salmon spawning sculpture by celebrated Native American artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand. The trail is lined by interpretive signs about fish and rivers, and leads visitors to the stunning “Coming Home” salmon encampment sculptures by Marchand. The return trail is blocked by nine boulders representing the nine dams that block the return journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Methow River.
The Davises’ vision of Homestream Park was embraced by the Town of Winthrop and encouraged by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Upper Columbia United Tribes. More than 50 organizations and businesses and hundreds of volunteers made the vision a reality. The desire to involve the community in the creation of the park was expressed by Cathy: “We want everyone to feel this is their park. We opened up every opportunity to participate. We did ask some people, but others just came forward with offers to help” – people like Susan Sprague, who offered her graphic design services, and Patrick Hannigan with his Nice Nests hand-crafted nesting boxes.
In an interview with Don Ashford of KTRT, Methow tribe descendant Mark Miller said, “when I look at the Methow Valley, the concept of a whole valley ecosystem/spiritual system is what people I think are striving for. Phil and Cathy reached out to people and paid attention to the cultural advice. They created Homestream Park for the right reason. That, I think, is an important message for people to understand. This park represents salmon, water, also the dirt, soil – the environmental wholesomeness that people come to the Methow for.”
On Saturday, representatives from the Colville Tribes Language Program and Okanogan Basket Weavers Association built the tulee lodge and erected the 18-foot teepee. The tulee lodge is on loan from the Language Program, and the teepee is on loan from Ernie Brooks. The tulee lodge and teepee were placed for Sunday’s events, and may return next spring.
Jimmy Timentwa was part of the crew who built the lodge and rushed to Ace Hardware for last-minute parts. He said, “If you have 25 cents worth of ink, please thank Ace Hardware for being open on Saturday!”
The Bush School eighth-graders built a portion of the walking trail. Pascal Sherman Indian School students spent an afternoon planting trees and bushes. Little Star Montessori students grew and planted cottonwood seedlings. On the morning the Montessori students volunteered, Phil Davis watched them march across the street and sprint to the play fort, “kids were climbing all over the fort,” he laughed, “that’s what this park is about.”
On Sunday, the public was treated to park tours, storytelling, music and food by Sunflower Catering. The Davises enlisted the Methow Valley Interpretive Center to plan the event. Musician Arnold Cleveland opened the celebration with a prayer expressed through his flute. Randy Lewis shared the traditional way to welcome the salmon home. Aleeka Miller represented her culture in her grandmother’s beaded buckskin dress, with otter fur woven through her braids.
Phil Davis shared his conception of the park – “inspiration is in our water with a shared stewardship of land, water, and each other.” Mark Miller welcomed everyone with a reminder that the space was once a muddy corral, but was restored with a good heart.
Music was provided by Ken Bevis and Friends, followed by Rebecca Gallivan and Andrew Tuller performing songs from the musical “The Last Salmon,” based on Phil Davis’ children’s book of the same title.
“Points of Interest” on Sunday included two tables from the Methow Valley Interpretive Center featuring plants used for building structures, and the Methow Artifact Research Project. John Crandall of the Methow Restoration Council and Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation provided literature and insight into lamprey, a native fish also facing the plight as salmon in our rivers.
Smoker Marchand was on hand to talk about his art, and expressed the inspiration that Phil and Cathy Davis gave him through their involvement. Creating art in public spaces allows him to “practice my culture and tradition,” Marchand said. The “Water is Life” sculpture of spawning salmon features pictographs depicting the obstacles that salmon face to come home, “eagles, fishermen, dams, length of travel from ocean, what the salmon have to go through, and their resilience.” North Cascades Fly Fishing owner Kevin van Bueren constructed the redd. The cobble was provided by Winthrop National Fish Hatchery.
For the “Coming Home” installation, Marchand looked to traditional regalia while designing the breast collar on the horse, the coyote on the man’s belt, and the elk antler necklace. His grand-daughter Zoey, 8, attended the opening on Sunday and shared the names she had given each sculpture. The woman erecting the teepee is Cloud, the woman tending the fire is Rosie. The boy with the fish is Cade, and his dog is named Wind. The woman on the horse with the baby on her back is named Sea, the colt is named Lightening. The man is named Wolfe, and his horse is Thunder.
Artist Tori Karpenko contributed to the design and construction of the kids’ play fort. Bruce Morrison hand-carved the nesting osprey family from cedar. As Morrison was measuring the fort roof prior to building the nest, he heard a loud crack. He turned to see an osprey take flight with a 6-foot branch of cottonwood in its beak to build a nest. On the day Morrison returned to install the carving, osprey were nearby.
From the early beginnings of the Davises’ vision of Homestream Park, the Methow Conservancy provided financial, technical, operational and inspirational support. For the park design, Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects donated their planning and design services. The landscaping design was donated by Theresa Miller, who installed native gardens around the shelter areas.
Spring clean-up of the property was assisted by Methow Recycles to recycle, reuse and properly dispose of items removed from the site. Okanogan County Electric Cooperative transported items to the annual valley-wide metal recycling drive. WasteWise waived waste removal fees incurred during the spring clean-up.
Excavation was done by Palm Construction, which donated a portion of its services for site preparation, parking and trail construction. Winthrop resident Lee Whittaker used his mini-backhoe to dig holes for the new shelters in the park.
Blackcap Builders Collective donated a full day to pour concrete, construct the “hitching posts,” and perform other construction tasks. Cascade Concrete donated materials for the walking trail, ADA parking, concrete and rock for the art installations. Patrick Norwil of Norwil Electric donated labor to install electrical service. North Valley Lumber gave discounts on building products. Tall Timber donated time to build the shelters. Windy Valley Landscaping donated a temporary irrigation system for new plants. Vic and Carrie Stokes donated the large boulders placed throughout the park.
A coordinated effort went into the restoration of the floodplain and riparian areas. Rob Crandall, owner of Methow Natives Plant Nursery, donated consulting and design services to create a restoration plan. He was often seen at the park directing plantings and wielding a shovel and wheelbarrow to spread mulch. “I’ll be here often,” he said, when asked about ongoing care for the riparian and floodplain area. Sam and Brooke Lucy of Bluebird Grain Farms provided equipment and labor. Tree care was provided by Aaron Boley of Three Rivers Arbor Care and Owen Almquist.
Methow Trails consulted on trail design and construction. Susan Sprague designed the interpretive signs under the shelter and the Homestream logo. The Methow Valley Fly Fishing Club donated funding for interpretive signs throughout the park. The Washington Department of Ecology provided interpretive signs next to the barn to describe the finer details of floodplains. Trout Unlimited provided funding for interpretive signs.
Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group helped the Davises apply for restoration funding. With their help, Homestream Park received the Terry Husseman Grant for riparian and floodplain restoration. For landscape maintenance of the restored areas, the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation is researching additional funding.
A shoreline park in the floodplain requires extensive permits, a daunting task. Herrera Environmental Consultants helped navigate the regulatory hurdles. Tackman Surveying donated its services. Methow Reservations paid permitting fees for the approval of the park’s building, sculpture and signage.
Everyone expressed gratitude for this gift to the community, and admiration for the art and restoration that will be accessible to community from now on.