Here is my simple formula for reducing stress and increasing happiness: Avoid reading or watching national and international news as much as you can. Do read the Methow Valley News each week. And, finally, enjoy our lovely, flower and bird-filled Methow springtime.
Save Twisp River trees
I want to counter Gina McCoy’s rebuke of my letter to the editor. I am just a layperson who loves trees and have been amongst them throughout my entire life. What I especially oppose is the commercial thinning of trees of 18 inches in diameter. A tree of 18 inches in diameter is not a young, understory tree. I have seen 18-inch diameter ponderosas that were over 150 feet tall!
With the planned amount of logging, we are now talking about a caravan of 12 logging trucks making two round trips a day, every day from May through September, for a minimum of the next four year and possibly much longer. Does Gina live on the Twisp River Road?
Well, I do. I walk and run that road almost every day. There is even a farmer who still farms with a horse-drawn tiller, and I shudder to think what could happen when this caravan of trucks continually goes drumming by these animals when they are in or near the road. These trucks will be rolling through downtown Winthrop on their way to Darrington. Every, single, day. May through September. Four plus years. This will change the Twisp River Valley for decades to come.
Large-scale thinning alone has not shown to work, according to scientists like Chad Hanson. Hanson, of the John Muir Project, has stated, “Yes, there are exceptions, but when we look at the data on a larger scale, the pattern holds: the more trees pulled out of a forest, the more quickly and intensely a fire burns.”
Let’s remove the tree-thinning component of this project because something that is labeled as a “restoration project” should not be a commercial enterprise. Prescribed burning should be done where it can be implemented correctly. Plant Trees where there have been forest fires, because they are struggling to reseed, in some cases not at all.
I would love to see the end of the smoke-filled Methow and Twisp River valleys, but this project must be further modified. If you agree, please make your voice heard!
What about protection?
Why aren’t we talking about pregnancy prevention?
The news goes on and on about the abortion issue. My question is why aren’t we plowing the airwaves with information about pregnancy prevention? I’m old enough to remember when birth control was limited to condoms or abstinence, neither of which worked among my high school classmates. To ask a young, hormone-ravaged person of either sex to stop in the middle of an act so wondrous is asking a lot. It was only the thought of what my mother would think if I got pregnant at 15, as well as the impact on my six younger siblings, that made me stop that freight train in my boyfriend’s car.
Given all the birth control options available, there is absolutely no reason for anyone today to have an unwanted pregnancy. Education, of course, is the key, whether it comes from parents, family physician, sex ed at school, Planned Parenthood, to name a few sources. Young people need to know that, simply put, unprotected sex equals pregnancy, and pregnancy equals giving the child up for adoption, abortion if it’s legal, or 20-plus years of responsibility for another human being.
Having kids is great, especially after all the hard work pays off with happy and successful humans now raising their own kids. I’m not sure if anyone at any age can be ready for having a child, but choosing the right time is an option available to all. Let’s start talking about it.
Be bear aware
Bears and garbage are a bad combination, and for whatever reason we seem to be having the biggest problem between the two in many years. Households and businesses throughout the upper valley are dealing with frequent messes this spring from overturned carts, damaged dumpsters and storage sheds broken into by hungry bears.
I’m often surprised when I listen to friends and neighbors discussing the situation. It’s often described as a problem that WasteWise needs to fix. People are irritated that their “bear-proof” container is in fact not. Or they might grumble that messes weren’t cleaned up by WasteWise employees.
We all chose to live here on this narrow finger of private land jutting into the wilderness. We live in close proximity to a lot of wildlife, and we have a personal responsibility to minimize our impact. Learn the garbage truck’s schedule, and put your cart out only on collection day and as close to your collection time as possible. Then retrieve it as quickly as possible after it’s been emptied. If this is difficult because of work or school or because you don’t live here full-time, then ask a friend, cajole a neighbor, or hire someone to help. Bag your garbage, and keep your cart relatively clean. Store it somewhere out of the bear’s reach. Same with your barbecue. Rethink the existence of your bird feeders.
The crew at WasteWise are all doing their best, and please keep in mind they didn’t create the problem. We all did by choosing to live here, we need to work together to solve it. Full disclosure, my wife and I are former owners of the company now known as WasteWise. We know how hard this spring has been on Casey and his crew, and we ask everyone to have some empathy and do what they can to help.
Fire season precautions
Fire season has started again. To date, the valley has already had several wildland fires since the start of this year. We live in the wildland urban interface (WUI) and we need to be as smart as possible to avoid the devastation that wildfires will bring.
With that in mind, we would like to encourage all our valley neighbors to be extra cautious. If your neighborhood has a Firewise committee, please check with them for ideas of what you might do to help keep you, your property and the valley, stay fire-safe.
Our Sun Mountain Ranch Club’s Firewise Committee has scheduled two separate yard waste hauling events for property owners. These events are fully funded by a Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant, and an award from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and State Farm. In addition, we are working with the DNR to schedule thinning of participating properties in our neighborhood. DNR offers a program where the cost of thinning is generally split 50/50 between the property owner and the DNR.
We are also strongly advising our residents to stop burning their yard waste. We had two brush fires in the development last year and one already this year. It may be an old comforting habit, but it can so easily get away from even the most seasoned and cautious resident. Not to mention the resulting smoke makes breathing difficult for friends and neighbors.
If you’re interested in learning more about ways to keep yourself, and your neighbors, safe from fire, please visit the NFPA website, www.nfpa.org, or just Google Firewise. We also have a wonderful organization in the valley, Fire Adapted Methow Valley, at www.fireadaptedmethow.org. They got us started on the process to become one of the many NFPA-approved Firewise communities in the valley. Together, we can all keep our communities as safe as possible.
Patti Nordby and Karen Mulcahy
Firewise committee members
Time to act
I am an exchange student from Austria, staying in the valley for five months. I want to write about my experience with climate change awareness in the valley and back at home in Austria.
One thing that I noticed was, that everybody here is very concerned about climate change, but people here are not actually changing their lives to stop climate change. Everybody still is eating meat, flying across the planet, and driving a car everywhere. After reading the news in the morning and hearing about how global warming hits Australia, you get up to eat your banana, which flew to the U.S. from South America, and then you drive to work with a car in a coat from China. Does that feel familiar to you?
This is not the experience that I had at home in Europe. Most Europeans only fly once every couple of years. Before I came here, I only flew to three destinations and back in 16 years. Many of my friends have never flown before in their lives and most of them have never left Europe. Quite a few people are vegan or vegetarian and most people only eat meat once a week. We are joining school strikes and participate in climate marches.
The problem is, talking doesn’t change the world. What we need to do is act. It doesn’t work to give the fault to the politicians. It is true, they are doing way to less, but so are we. Every single person must think about who to give their money to. Should you give it to the airline? Should you give it to a company in China or Australia that is bad for our planet? No. Instead, you may consider giving your money to a local start-up. Think about it, if you really should take the car to your office, which is only 2 miles away. That is a distance that is easy to bike. Yes, this is an appeal for everyone. We need to save our planet, not tomorrow, now.