Be part of the solution
I was in Twisp last weekend to see friends and attend festivities at the farmers market and Twisp Art Walk. As a longstanding homeowner, I was saddened by the division I saw in the community around Proposition 1 and I want to share why.
Most rational people see the value of a (year-round) pool in a community with six months of winter and increasingly smoky summers as a valuable form of recreation and exercise. How do we care for and communicate with each other when we struggle with our differences? Vitriol and divisiveness have no place in this community which prides itself on working together to solve problems, supporting one another when times are hard and lifting up the most vulnerable among us. If Proposition 1 is not for you, at least show some respect and appreciation for the members of this community who worked hard for years to come up with a plan to provide a pool for our children, families and seniors.
What I saw was grown adults acting like mad children in a playground. When did we lose trust in good people to do hard things? Fear of not having enough money will drive people to a frenzy. If you are afraid, come to meetings and respectfully ask questions like an adult. Be a part of the solution not the problem.
The community will benefit as a whole with all of our constructive input. We will rip apart with infighting, divisiveness and not in my backyard (NIMBY) thinking. Come to meetings to discuss the facts instead of camping out on corners and disseminating lies that strengthen our fears. Let’s work together to create a sound plan with straightforward tasks so that those of us who want to leave a lasting legacy for our community are trusted to exercise accountability, transparency and responsibility. By being part of the solution, you ensure planning and accountability is in place for the next round of decision making. Let’s trust good people to do hard things.
It is October and the second half of our property taxes are coming due. October is also research time for the candidates and local measures that will be on our ballot for the Nov. 7 election. Remember to thoroughly study the Proposition 1 local measure for the creation of a permanent Metropolitan Park District (MPD) called the Methow Aquatics District.
It will have a significant impact on our community and on your property taxes and rents in the future. It will be forever. You can go to nopooltaxes.com for a discussion of what a MPD is under Washington law and to better help you make an informed voting decision on Proposition 1 come this Nov. 7. The voters’ pamphlets will come out Oct. 13 and the ballots on the Oct. 20. Study the candidates and issues. Remember those seniors on fixed income and the low-income families in our valley.
Vote informed. Vote wisely. That is the Methow way.
A better model
We treasure and want to protect the wildlife in our valley, and have enjoyed recreation (hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing) on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands. Given the magnitude of the ask, we were disturbed by WDFW’s paucity of data justifying extensive Methow Valley Wildlife Area closures for one-third of the year. We hoped for multi-year mule deer population estimates and data reporting human impacts on these animals (i.e., road kills, non-hunting recreational impacts including, perhaps, numbers of Discover Passes issued, hunting licenses issued, hunting kills, and predator kills). WDFW has reported that many states in the West have already instituted such closures, but specifics were not provided. Many of our concerns were well expressed by Nick Hershenow and Sam Lucy in recent My Turn columns.
Conservation Northwest’s comprehensive 2022 literature review conducted in partnership with Home Range Wildlife Research, “Recreation and Wildlife in Washington,” suggests that WDFW could take a more nuanced approach to closures to protect mule deer, including prohibiting dogs; initiating closures when winter weather is severe; initiating closures for a shorter period of time (i.e., late winter); limiting hours of access; and allowing access on select established trails.
We would like to see WDFW provide baseline data as suggested above and an experimental plan that includes data-collection specifics, personnel and budget. WDFW mentioned using cameras, collaring and drones to better monitor this species. But, what about our valley’s most powerful resource: people? This valley has expert animal, track, and scat observers. Our community scientists could be a huge asset in helping gather information about mule deer and their predators. Highly successful and powerful community science models are eBird and iNaturalist. iNaturalist might be a great fit, as WDFW could create a local “project” on their site and then train selected volunteers to use it.
This collaborative approach could serve as a model for the countless communities struggling to find a balanced, equitable approach to address the needs of outdoor recreationists while facing the daunting challenges of what we know are the most serious threats to our wildlife: severe weather, fires and habitat loss.
Jane Ramberg and Michael Bastian
A first step
I’ve been supporting the pool proposal quietly. Supporting because a public pool is invaluable to every community. I know the volunteers working diligently on the pool, and I trust them. I’ve been quiet because I haven’t had command of important facts about Proposition 1. I recently sat down with a board member to understand their proposal. This is what I learned.
It starts with the Wagner Memorial Pool. Currently, the annual operation and frequent repair of the Wagner Pool is paid by property taxpayers in the Town of Twisp and donors to Friends of the Pool. If the Methow Aquatic District passes, everyone in the school district will share in the upkeep of the Wagner Pool. I think this is more fair. A board of elected and appointed members will be responsible for establishing the level of funding needed from us. Our voices will be heard if they get it wrong.
Absolutely no design is being proposed at this time. All of us will get the opportunity to participate in the decision about what pool to build.
Organizers propose a perpetual line item in our property taxes out of a desire for secure, sustainable funding. An alternative is a levy request every six years.
Creation of the district opens doors for significant public and private funding relieving a lot of my property tax concerns. Valid questions exist about whether the nuts and bolts of the proposal are right for all of us and whether this is the right time. As with most good things accomplished here, a small group of dedicated, good-hearted rookies have rolled up their sleeves to solve a difficult problem. We do it all the time. My hope is that creation of the district can be the baby step that keeps the Wagner Pool open and sets the stage for all of us to figure out what happens in the years to come. Whether Proposition 1 passes this time or not, what happens next is up to us. Please stay involved.
All is fall
The sword ferns are browning as wildfire crusaders from distant kingdoms return to their fiefs. Elderberries are ready and the cinnamon bear preparing for her five-month nap knows to eat up. Open range cattle are coming down from up above to graze at cottages with manicured green lawns. Once again, this will upset those in zoom town sanctuaries who will text ranch homes of pioneer families to murmur and moan about the local way of doing things.
Presently, the weather is perfect. The smoke is gone! It is not too hot or too cold and in fact overnight you can leave the windows wide open. Year-rounders are taking down all the yellow yellowjacket snares around their own hives and replacing them with peanut butter mousetraps and cheese baited packrat cages both of which are for rodents simply looking for winter love nests. More rain drops at night now washing beige meadows and steps gold, thus enticing crickets and frogs to sing choral lullabies.
Rivers, streams, and creeks are all dry on the valley’s rocky bottom waiting for the first non-political snowflakes to cover them up with down blankets to provide a wide winter road to ski down from local yurts for a morning baguette at the store. Soon, the mountain pass over the hump will also go into hibernation and a quiet seasonal cusp will settle on all domiciles. Briefly pausing the lack of traffic manners by the visiting White Walkers.
Before long, the orange hats and vests of local seniors will come out of the closets in their eldercare to don for their twice-daily dog walks. Imagined protection from the gunfire of seasonal small game, drive-by shooters. The leaves leave the trees when their green goes and fall on the forest floor’s pine needle carpet. Squirrel middens cover every stump with all that remains of the cones Grey and Doug Fir hoarders busily threw down aware of what it was on its way. All these and other subtle autumnal clues forecast the white blanket which will soon cover the dwellings of “All Creatures Great and Small.”
E. Anton Kubena