A failed ski resort saga
The new book, “Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort That Never Was,” a page-turner by Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer, is in the Winthrop library. The proposed Mineral King resort project in Southern California preceded our Early Winters to the Supreme (corporate) Court. Avalanches are the real reason lifts are not suited to Mineral King, but this book details the more famous legal and political battles. Christopher Stone’s book, “Should Trees Have Standing,” was expanded from the legal paper that inspired our own Washington State Justice, William O. Douglas, to write his famous dissenting opinion, that natural objects should have standing before the law.
All this helped save the Methow Valley and northern California’s Independence Lake from becoming huge ski lift resorts. Our little Loup Loup (wolf wolf in English) is just right. I was, quite by chance, intimately involved in Mineral King, Independence Lake, and even dated Snow White from Disneyland. Our boss at Kirkwood, Dick Reuter, helped study avalanches there.
This book only misses Schickle’s “The Disney Version,” Dave Beck’s letter, Janet Leigh’s dissent, and the fact that Stone’s book is now out in its third edition. On the book’s cover, Frank Kowski, who was Superintendent of Sequoia National Park, is to the left of Walt Disney. He helped me write my avalanche editorial in Powder magazine, that helped nail the coffin on Mineral King’s almost lifts. This book’s bibliography is otherwise excellent.
Thanks from Methownet
Here in the Methow we work tirelessly to do things for ourselves and provide for each other. How many small communities across the country can say they have their own radio station, newspaper, power company, on top of countless locally owned and operated businesses and nonprofits dedicated to keeping things local? All of these enterprises are products of collaboration. In this community we see a need, show up, and find a way to make it happen.
Methownet Internet service is an outcome of this community. Today we provide a needed service, under local control, using local talent, keeping our hard-earned dollars here where we can use them. We want to thank those individuals whose effort made having a local Internet service possible, including:
Paul Brown and Ann George, who introduced the idea of Internet to the valley.
Those who helped to turn the initial vision into a reality — John Blethen, Larry Schaber, Adam Glenn, Steve Hardy, Tom Berry and Erik Loukota.
OCEC general manager Ray Ellis, the line crew, staff and board who removed barriers and added fiber to the equation.
All of our staff past and present, who take pride in the success of a scrappy grassroots local Internet service: Dawn Woodruff, Tracy Heffelfinger, Mary Sharman, Janet Eileen, Ada Knowles, Amy Clements, Clint Johnson, Betsy Cushman, Joe Brown, Owen Almquist, Tony Bosco, Ananda Bajema, Svea Miller, Gregg Hardy, April Wertz, Ian Keeney, Dustin Soodak, Matt Schumacher, Joanna Bastian, Levi Murphy and office dogs Hoonah and Ellie, to name a few.
And finally, our customers who have taught us so much along the way and made all of this possible. Your support has been essential to Methownet. We are sincerely grateful!
Jeff Hardy and Maria Converse
Sharing the Land of Canaan
I see in the news this morning that Israel bombed and collapsed more than eight apartment buildings in Gaza in the last 24 hours. Children trapped in the rubble can be heard calling for their mothers. United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres rightly noted that, “The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity.” We don’t want to be crushing children under concrete any more; we’ve been there, done that.”
All humans are 99.9% related. A 2001 scientific study showed that Palestinians and middle-eastern Jews are 99.99% related. The bad news is that we are all related, the good news is that we are all related.
It has to be noted, albeit briefly, that this war and all wars at least to a degree are over personal and group identity. We have to come to recognize how hungry we are all to be somebody, to be valued. There must be a way to get there without de-valuing and destroying others.
In early September, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) held a “workshop” led by Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin at the Winthrop Barn to introduce plans for restricting recreational activities on Methow Valley public lands for the stated purpose of protecting local Mule deer.
WDFW’s plan is to close 35,000 acres, two-thirds of wildlife management units Chewuch, Pearrygin and Gardner areas, ranging from the Rendezvous to Carlton, prohibiting all hiking, snow shoeing, backcountry skiing, biking, shed hunting, snowmobiling, etc. The underlying reason is the stress caused to mule deer by humans. WDFW devoted little attention to greater stressors such as harsh winters, fires, drought, high temperatures, cougars, wolves coyotes, disease, roadkill, hunting and bears who are able to smell newborn fawns up to 3 miles.
Many have asked for data supporting WDFW’s closure. Despite WDFW’s claim that they have “mountains of data,” none has yet been publicly disseminated. Fitkin has stated that the closure was “not cast in stone.”
On Nov. 27, WDFW announced the closure of public lands from Dec. 15 through March 31, 2024, and that there would be no further discussion or “workshops.” A group referred to as the Methow Wildlife Area Advisory Committee has decided violators would be fined $150, followed by a misdemeanor for additional violations.
I am perplexed that a handful of unelected bureaucrats can close public lands and impose fines and criminal penalties for infractions. Why is there no further opportunity for public dialog? To what extent does WDFW intend to monitor the results of the public lands closure so that they and the public will know whether the deeply felt loss of recreational opportunities has been cost effective?
These public Lands belong to the public, not bureaucrats who have failed to answer our questions or provide their “mountains of data.”
It is time to demand answers and a full public response even if it takes several public meetings. This is not a dead issue “cast in stone.” This is a democracy, not a land of self-selecting dictators.