February 2018 ENews

First Tuesday ProgramSalmon
River of Hope: The Columbia River, from Source to Sea
Tuesday, February 6th, 7:00-8:30pm at the Winthrop Barn

Photographer Peter Marbach will share stories and photos from his epic project documenting the landscapes, history and culture of the entire 1,243 mile long Columbia River.  Peter will also focus on the current Columbia River Treaty renegotiation (enacted in 1964), and the importance the treaty can have on wild salmon and ecosystem restoration, not just electric rates, irrigation and flood protection. The doors open at 6:30pm.

The program is free and open to everyone. For more information, contact 996-2870 or mary@methowconservancy.org.

Also, if you missed January’s program on water rights and the WA Water Trust Program, you can watch a video of it here!  

Herpetology Conservation Course
Register Now!  Updated course schedule and details below.
Animals that slither, slide, creep and crawl are the focus of the 2018 Methow Conservation Course.  We’re talking about amphibians and reptiles - snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles and lizards - or “herps.”

Jenn ZajacWe’ve been working hard to plan an engaging and educational course that connects you to the herpetology world of the Methow (and beyond), but also listens to your needs.  With spring approaching, and feedback from interested participants, the course has been updated to reflect less time indoors and more time outside!  There will now be four indoor classes, with no class on Presidents’ Day, and two field sessions.  Plus, we even reduced the price to $140 since we reduced the indoor sessions. 

Herp Course Dates:
~ Indoor evening classes are from 6-8pm at the Winthrop Barn on Mondays Feb 12, Feb 26, March 5 and March 12. 
~ Amphibian Survey training is Sunday April 8th.  Two surveys are on your own time.
~ Methow Snake Search will be on a mid-May weekend day

With well-known scientist-instructors including Professor Dan Beck, and biologists John Rohrer, Scott Fitkin, Julie Grialou and Jenn Zajac, the course will remind you of a college-level seminar, with engaging lectures, optional reading materials, discussion amongst your peers, and a small class size.  We’ll even have live animals, including a Gila Monster!  The course also includes two field sessions – an amphibian survey training, and a snake search, both with professional instructors.

On Sunday April 8th, Julie Grialou will lead a training for our “Amphibian Survey” citizen science project.  Surveys of Methow ponds and wetlands will occur on your own schedule from mid-April to late-May.  Most people work in small groups of 2-3 people, though working alone is an option, and pick one to three areas to survey.  We’ll work with you to choose your areas.  Herpetology Course participants will be given priority in signing up for this citizen science project and it’s included in the course fee.  If more volunteers are needed, non-course people will be allowed to register for a small fee.  

On a mid-May weekend day (we need warm, sunny weather!), the snake guru duo of John Rohrer & Scott Fitkin will lead us on a search for Methow snakes, including a safe way to view and learn about rattlesnakes.

Tuition is $140* and registration is open now.  Need-based scholarships, in the form of a reduced or waived fee, are available to a limited number of people who are able to help with the course, such as taking notes, and set-up and clean-up.  Contact Mary at mary@methowconservancy.org or 509-996-2870 for questions about the course or to register.

Win-Win! “Harvesting Community” Happy Hour Featuring the “Methow Grown” Film Festival & the Exciting Conclusion of the “Experience the Methow” Auction
Online Auction runs February 12th - 18th, culminating at the Harvesting Community Happy Hour on February 18th, 4 to 6pm at the Winthrop Barn, free.

Our popular online “Methow Experiences” auction is back!  And to top it all off, as the auction closes on the Sunday of Presidents’ Day Weekend, we’re throwing a film festival happy hour with some of our “Methow Grown” short films. Come celebrate local agriculture and conservation with us!

Peter BauerThe Methow Experience Auction
Feb 12th - 18th - online at www.32auctions.com/methowconservancy2018

We've asked Methow Conservancy Board Members, Staff, and Supporters to share some of their favorite things to do (or see) in the Methow Valley (or beyond). This is not your usual auction of "stuff" but rather a chance to celebrate the special nature of this Valley.  For example, items include a kid-friendly tour of Jane Gilbertsen’s famous chicken farm, a special Last Salmon dinner party featuring live performances from the popular Methow-grown musical, all you ever want to know about bird photography, and a repeat favorite - the Methow Conservancy staff weeding your property!  You can see all our awesome auction items now and come back often during the week of February 12thBids begin at 8am on Monday, February 12th and close at 6pm on Sunday February 18th.  Remember, this is an online auction, so winning bids can come from anywhere!Methow Grown Web

Harvesting Community Happy Hour:  The Methow Grown Film Festival & Party
Feb 18th, 4 to 6pm at the Winthrop Barn, free

The online auction will close in the midst of our Methow Grown Film Festival event.  We hope you’ll join us on this fun holiday weekend for a great happy hour party!  We’ll have food and drink (no-host bar) while sharing nine of our original short films showcasing local Methow agriculturalists. Their creativity, resilience, sense of humor, and dedication to raising wholesome food and stewarding the land will inspire you.  Free admission & snacks, no host bar. Bring a friend, meet others who love the Valley, have some fun, learn a little, and support conservation.

Methow Conservancy Volunteers Have a Good Time
Mary KiesauWe had a great time at our first-ever Volunteer Thank You Party last week at the Sixknot Taphouse in Winthrop.  Over 120 people volunteered with us in 2017, and it was truly inspiring to see and hear from over a third of them (during a snowstorm no less)!   We’re making this gathering a new annual tradition and hope to see lots more of you there next year.  Volunteers make a huge difference in our special valley, including making our work more successful, interesting and fun. Thank You Volunteers!

Our volunteer projects are updated regularly on our page on Volunteer Methow.  Browse tasks and register there, or contact us anytime.

The Featured Activity this month is:
Harvesting Community: A Happy Hour Celebrating Agriculture & Conservation in the Methow
Sunday, February 18th

On Feb 18th (and the week before), we need lots of helpers to make this holiday weekend happy hour and mini film-festival fun and eventful.  From distributing posters and postcards around the Valley prior to the event, to day-of help with chairs, kitchen/food prep, bartending, even assistance with some online/technology aspects. 

See all the jobs and times here, and sign up there, or contact us directly.

Coming up in March & April:  Mark your calendars for the bluebird box installation work party on March 17, and an Amphibian Survey Training on April 8th.  These are both great field projects where you have the opportunity to learn and do some valuable conservation and science work. 

barJoyce Bergen

Bringing the Outside In
Our natural history & nature drawing class series with instructors Perri Howard & Mary Kiesau has been fun and educational, with a unique mix of exploring the outdoors and then coming inside to learn to draw.  There’s one class left with just a few spots available! 

Friday Feb 16th, 12:30-5:00pm – We’ll focus on drawing animals, primarily mammals.  We’ll start outdoors for the first hour, moving our legs and learning some things about Methow mammals, then go to Perri’s indoor studio at TwispWorks for about three hours of drawing lessons and practice.  All materials, including pens, pencils, paper will be included, but feel free to bring your own materials if you’d like. 

Space is limited, registration is required, and the cost is $65/person*. Contact us at 996-2870 or mary@methowconservancy.org to reserve your spot or for more information. 

From the Ag Desk: Winter Workshops
This month, we hosted an information-packed workshop for beginning and aspiring farmers: “Starting a Farm Business – What do I Need to Know?”  Chelan farmer-turned-bookkeeper, Rachel Airmet Smith of BooksOnPoint, gave the nearly Sasha Swerdloffdozen attendees a great overview to navigating the different layers of licensing, bookkeeping, and reporting that are required of farms in Washington State. 

Monday, February 5th, we are hosting another workshop, in partnership with the Okanogan NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service).  It will be a 2-part workshop.  Part I will be an introduction to NRCS cost-share opportunities for on-farm conservation practices (for example: irrigation upgrades, pollinator plantings, or cover cropping).  Part II will be a guide to how farmers at the local level impact how NRCS resources are allocated at a regional level.  For more information, or to RSVP, contact alyssa@methowconservancy.org

Looking for available farmland, or have land someone could farm?  We are continuing to build a farmland match-making database, with the hope of gathering information about landowners in the Methow Valley who may have land they would like to make available to local farmers.  If you are such a landowner, and would like to explore the possibility of actively supporting a local farmer and strengthening our valley’s foodshed, follow this link or contact our Agricultural Coordinator, Alyssa Jumars, at alyssa@methowconservancy.org

Photo by Sasha Swerdloff.  Willow Brook Farm of Carlton collaborated with NRCS to establish diverse pollinator plantings on their farm.

School Yard Science – Do You Wonder?
One of the hallmarks of the International Baccalaureate program at Methow Valley Elementary School is encouraging students to wonder: about what they are seeing, how something works, why something is the way it is, etc.  School Yard Science was all about wonder in January.

Tracks_4th gradeFirst, we wondered a bit about our sanity in thinking we could get snow shoes on and off groups of 22+ 4th graders.  But, we did!  Through the generosity of Liberty Bell High School PE Teacher Mike Putnam, we were able to borrow enough snowshoes to let every 4th grader have a chance to explore in the deep school yard snow.  For at least a quarter of the students, it was their first time ever on snowshoes – and they certainly wondered how they would move with such big feet!

Our aim was not to teach a tracking class like those amazing Dave Moskowitz courses we offer.  Our adventure was focused simply on observing closely and then wondering. Tracks 2 Left to their own explorations, all of the students, including some of our usually quiet ones, came to life.  They loved the freedom of moving on top of the snow and they quickly found the joy in seeing something and then using their outdoor detective skills to try to hypothesize about what might have happened. 

Some of their wonderings got quite complex!  We talked about how to use every clue we could find, including the context of where we were and who might be out in the winter to help us make a good guess at what happened. 

Our funniest moment came in the first class of the day, when several students came rushing up to us saying – “we found a grave, we found a grave.”  I’ll admit to being slightly concerned – what after all, would be buried on the school yard?  I asked the students to lead me to their wondering spot and the whole class followed.  Near a shed on the edge of a practice field, we came across a small tombstone-shaped piece of wood in the ground.  It read:


Having no idea myself what this meant, I started asking questions – what can we hypothesize from the clues we have.  A classroom pet named Manson?  But, then, someone said, “Hey, wait a minute.  Isn’t October football season and didn’t our football team beat Manson at the Homecoming game!”  Ha!  So there you have it!  You just never know what the school yard will show you!

Being Found, All Year ‘Round!
911 SignWe often think about the importance of clearly marked address signs during wildfire season, but your winter-time guests will tell you that finding your driveway on a dark and snowy Methow evening is just as important!

Help your friends and our local public safety professionals by ordering a reflective address sign for your driveway today.  Click here to order your one ($15) or two sided ($20) address sign and benefit the Winthrop Firefighters Association:

They make great gifts too…especially for the host of that holiday party you had trouble finding this winter!

Wildlife Tracking Intensive
KiesauJoin local wildlife tracker and educator Nate Bacon for a six-month wildlife tracking series that will meet one day per month from April through September. Explore the lives, behavior, and ecology of local wildlife through the art of track and sign identification and interpretation.

Both beginning trackers and seasoned veterans are welcome and encouraged to attend as there will be plenty of opportunity to learn from and with each other. The course will be structured to include plenty of field time for direct learning, but will also focus on the process of learning how to learn the various dimensions of wildlife tracking. Course content will provide not only lots of “dirt time,” but will also include explorations of the fundamentals of wildlife tracking skill and knowledge, including animal behavior, ecological tracking, gaits and locomotion, the aging of tracks, foot morphology, and trailing (actually following the tracks of animals). We will also give our attention to practices that support the development of these skills such as nature awareness and developing good study techniques to take advantage of the wealth of resources available to wildlife trackers today, including learning basic track drawing techniques with instructor Perri Howard. 

The series will take place at various field locations throughout the Methow and will be a great opportunity to explore the wonders of this valley including protected conservation easements.  The course will meet from 8:30am to 4pm on April 7, May 12, June 9, July 7, August 4, and September 8. 

This series will also be designed to support the learning process for those who wish to participate in the Wildlife Tracking Certificate Courses we regularly offer with David Moskowitz (there’s one planned for Oct 6-7). 

Tuition is $460*.  Space in the course is limited to 12 people.  Contact Mary at mary@methowconservancy.org or 509-996-2870 for questions or to register.

New Members  - Thank You!
We are always grateful when new people join our list of supporters each month. This month, we welcome Sarah Lane, and Susan Mecklenberg. Thank you for inspiring people to care for the land of the Methow Valley! Thank you!

Methow Conservancy Events
February 5th: Introduction to NRCS cost-share opportunities for on-farm conservation practices, 5:00 to 6:00pm, free
See above for more details.

February 5th: YOU can impact how NRCS resources are allocated in our region, 6:00 to 7:00pm, free.Columbia River
See above for more details.

February 6th: “First Tuesday” Program, “River of Hope: The Columbia River, from Source to Sea” with speaker Peter Marbach, 7:00pm at the Winthrop Barn, free. See above for more details.

February 12th:  Herpetology Conservation Course starts.  With well-known scientist-instructors including Professor Dan Beck, and biologists John Rohrer, Scott Fitkin, Julie Grialou and Jenn Zajac, the course will remind you of a college-level seminar, with engaging lectures, optional reading materials, discussion amongst your peers, and a small class size.  See all the class dates and details here

February 12-18th: Methow Experience Online Auction.  Wherever you are, bid on unique Methow (and beyond) adventures, services, items, performances and more! See above for more details. 

February 16th: “Bringing the Outside In” Natural History & Nature Drawing class on mammals with instructors Mary Kiesau & Perri Howard, 12:30pm-5:00pm, $65. Space limited, registration required. See above for more details.   

February 18th:  Methow Grown Film Festival, 4:00-6:00pm at the Winthrop Barn.  Join us for food, drinks and our Methow Grown film, festival plus the end to our entertaining Methow Experience online auction!  See above for more details.

March 6th: “First Tuesday” Program, “Sasquatch: Man-Ape or Myth?” with speaker David George Gordon, 7:00pm. Location TBA  Learn about this mysterious and iconic Northwest creature, and weigh the evidence both for and against its existence!  This presentation is part of Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau program.

Scott FitkinApril 3rd: “First Tuesday” Program, “Native Bees” with speaker Don Rolfs, 7:00pm, at the Merc Playhouse.

April 7th: Wildlife Tracking Intensive, first of six sessions, once a month from April to September, with instructor Nate Bacon, $460.   See above for more details.

May 31st – June 3rd: Methow Conservancy Spring Naturalists’ Retreat.  With guidance from naturalist instructors Libby Mills, Dana Visalli and Mary Kiesau spend a long weekend learning and exploring Methow birds, flowers and plants, and whatever else we find (butterflies and other insects, geology, frogs, lizards and snakes, scat and tracks and much more!) With glorious days in the field and engaging presentations and group dinners on two evenings (one catered, one potluck) you will be amazed by all that you learn and soak up in this fantastic nature and educational experience!  The class is limited to 20 people and costs $200*/person, including one catered dinner.  To register or for more information, contact Mary at 509-996-2870 or mary@methowconservancy.org.

News from Other Organizations

Saving SnowThe Methow Valley Nordic Ski Education Foundation is hosting a special one-day only showing of the documentary film "Saving Snow," Monday Feb. 26th at 6pm at the Barnyard Cinema in Winthrop.  Admission is by donation, benefiting the Washington state organization Climate Solutions.  As described on the film's website: "Across the country, people who depend on winter for their livelihood are feeling the heat. On the sidelines of skiing and snowboarding, an epic struggle to reverse rising temperatures is unfolding. Ski towns and the snow sports industry are paving the way towards a clean energy future."  Come early to get food and drinks at the Barnyard Cinema!

Methow Trails hosts “Nature of Winter Snowshoe” Tours every Saturday from Jan 6 - Feb 24 at both Sun Mountain and Jacks Hut at the Freestone Inn.  These family-friendly snowshoe tours start at 11:00am and are led by local volunteers who focus on winter ecology, wildlife and tracks, snow science and more.  See more details here.

Get on the ENews mailing list
If you got to this Newsletter through our website, but would like to get the link monthly in an email, let us know by emailing Mary.

Republishing of any part of Methow Conservancy E-News is by permission only. 
Contact us at 509-996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org

*Our Cancellation and Refund Policy
If you cancel or leave a fee-based course for any reason:
Full refunds will be given if the request is received two weeks or more before the day of the program (class, workshop, field trip, etc.).  If the cancellation is made less than two weeks before the start of the program, the Methow Conservancy will give a full refund only if we are able to fill your spot.  If you cancel 24 hours or less before the start time of the program or after the class has started there will be no refund of the program fee.  Although we rarely need to do so, we reserve the right to cancel a program.  In this case you will receive a full refund.

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