What a crazy, mixed-up summer it has been, full of fits and starts. Crowds of visitors; no visitors. Road open; road closed. Yellow skies; blue skies. Flames here; flames there. The summer of 2021 has been, to say the least, somewhat unsettling.
When the North Cascades Scenic Highway opened in time for a long-planned trip to the other side of the mountains, it was a relief to see Liberty Bell, clear as a bell, standing statuesque against a deep blue sky. The Watchers are still there rising up in refreshing air, watching over the chaotic “fire season” below.
There is a project of Methow Valley Citizens Council in the valley called Clean Air Methow that focuses on needs and questions related to air quality. Their goal is to provide solutions where possible to improve air quality and promote a sustainably clean airshed. Clean Air Methow works with other nonprofits, organizations, government, and schools to bring attention to the severity of rural air quality issues and to advocate for effective environmental and public health policy changes.
Every season brings with it a different challenge to sustaining clean air. Summers such as this one bring prolonged episodes of unhealthy smoke exposure from wildfires. Outdoor burning comes along in the fall. Wood-burning stoves create a low-hanging blanket of smoke most nights in the winter. Outdoor burning comes around again in the spring.
Each season, Clean Air Methow is proactive in designing programs to improve air quality such as chipping and vegetation drives, woodstove exchange programs, getting air purifiers to underserved households, and providing education regarding best practices in all areas.
For all these reasons, the Clean Air Methow vision of “Clean Air for Everyone” is a worthy cause.
Twisp River Tap House — in conjunction with Seattle-based Freakout Records — has put together a benefit show to support Clean Air Methow. On Friday (Aug. 20), Smoker Dad — a seven-piece group that dubs their music as Southern Fried Rock ‘n’ Roll — will provide music and merriment at the newly opened venue on the Twisp River. A portion of every ticket sold (strangertickets.com/events) will go to Clean Air Methow.
Skyler Locatelli of Freakout Records, who lives and works from his home in Mazama, conceived the idea for this show based on his firsthand experience with Level 3 fire evacuation and dangerous air quality from the Cedar Creek Fire.
“I wanted to offer a way for the community to find some reprieve as well as give direct support and bring public awareness to an organization like Clean Air Methow,” he said. “A benefit concert is something I know how to do, and I am excited to showcase some amazing talent in the newly reopened Twisp River Tap House.”