The Methow Conservancy, in Washington State's Methow Valley
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Eighth Annual Methow Conservation Course
The Ecological History of the Methow Valley from the Cascades to the Columbia
Mondays, January 30th - March 14th, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.                                                    Course Syllabus
At the Twisp River Pub, with an optional dinner at 5:30pm
                                  Course Documents
                                                                                                                                                                        Weekly Notes from the Course

This year’s Methow Conservation Course will step back in time to take an ecological and conservation-based tour of the Methow’s rich history.  According to Wikipedia, environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time. “It emphasizes the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs. Environmental historians study how humans both shape their environment and are shaped by it.” With that in mind, we’ll cover numerous topics, looking at what has affected and shaped the Methow’s land, water, wildlife and people over time.

The once-weekly evening class, hosted by the Methow Conservancy at the Twisp River Pub will run from January 30th to March 12th with one class per week on Mondays from 6:00 to 8:30pm at the Twisp River Pub (the Pub is closed to the public during our class).  An optional dinner is served from 5:30 – 6:00pm for an additional fee of $10 per class.  Class will not meet the week of President’s Day (the week of Feb. 20th).

We’ll start the course off with renowned naturalist, teacher and author, Jack Nisbet.  Jack will set the stage for our class, drawing from the first written accounts of the Methow drainage, from mouth to mountaintop. Joining Jack will be Elaine Emerson, a full Methow Native American, who will share stories her parents and relatives passed down.

Next up, we’ll hear from another highly prized instructor, Bob Mierendorf.  Bob has long been the archeologist for the North Cascades National Park and will help us get a clearer picture of the Methow Valley and the surrounding region prior to settlement.  How have things changed since the glaciers receded?  What does the Methow’s archeological history tell us about the landscape and how the first people lived on it and with it? 

Our third class will focus on the initial influx of settlers and the heavy use of natural resources, from land to water and timber to minerals, to sustain livelihoods in the Valley. Ardis Bynum, John Roher and Scott Fitkin will help us understand how the management of public lands changed over the last century and what the implications to habitat and wildlife were.

On February 27th, Greg Knott will join us for an evening about one of this Valley’s biggest features – water. Greg will discuss how the availability of water has shaped human activity from pre-European times to the present and how it will possibly shape our future water and how it has influenced, nurtured and dictated activities in the Methow. 

In our fifth class, we have a real treat for participants!  Karen West will moderate a historical photo slideshow and facilitate storytelling from a panel of local historians and “old-timers.”  Come prepared with your questions! 

We’ll close the class with a look at the last crucial 40 years when the Valley was “discovered,” including the opening of Hwy 20; the debate around a downhill ski resort in Mazama; the establishment of planning and restrictive zoning codes; and the implications of a notable socio-economic shift. John Sunderland and Julie Tate-Libby will guide us through this last class which will undoubtedly lead to questions and discussion.  

Participation in the course includes a binder of reading materials and a field-trip.  Tuition is $125 for Methow Conservancy members. The tuition for non-members is $150, which includes a discounted one-year membership.  Need-based scholarships are available to a limited number of people who are able to volunteer some time to help with the course. 

See the links below for more infomation.



315 Riverside Avenue / PO Box 71    Winthrop, WA 98862     509.996.2870