February 2019 ENews

Welcome to E-News - A monthly brief to inspire us all to care for the land of the Methow Valley.

February First Tuesdays:  First Tuesdays are our free public programs offered each month. Usually they are held on the first Tuesday of each month. In February, however, we are offering three such programs -- and only one of them is on a Tuesday, just to keep you on your toes! We hope you'll join us!

First Tuesday February Arctic Double HeaderPaul Soders

  • Thursday, February 7th
    @ The Winthrop Ice Rink Meeting Room. Doors open at 6:30pm, presentation from 7-8pm

Mary Gallagher of the Alaska Wilderness League and Susan Ballinger Conservation Fellow at the Chelan Douglas Land Trust will share their photos and experiences traveling through the Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Friday, February 8th
    @ The Winthrop Barn. Doors open at 6:30pm, presentation from 7-8pm

Join Seattle based writer of “Arctic Solitaire” and award winning photographer Paul Souders as he showcases his amazing photos and tells his incredible tales from a three year quest to photograph polar bears in their Canadian arctic home.  Mountaineers Books writes, “A hilarious and evocative misadventure, Arctic Solitaire shares Paul Souders exploits across four summers, thousands of  miles of a vast inland sea, and the unpredictable Arctic wilderness—and also offers an insightful look at what compels a person to embark on adventure. The accompanying images of the landscape, people, and wildlife of the remote Hudson Bay region are, in a word, stunning." Photo at right by Paul Souders.

Melissa ArnotFebruary Special Feature! Melissa Arnot the Athlete, Advocate, and Adventurer
Tuesday, February 26th, @ The Winthrop Barn. Doors open at 6:30pm, presentation from 7-8pm

Winthrop-based professional mountaineer Melissa Arnot will share stories from her adventures and advocacy in Washington, Nepal, and beyond! Melissa is the first American woman to successfully summit and descend Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and has climbed the world’s highest peak six times. Known as a determined, hard-working and enthusiastic teacher, Melissa has devoted her life to learning from the mountains and sharing that knowledge with others. This should be an amazing talk by a truly inspirational human being. You won’t want to miss it! Photo at left courtesy of Melissa Arnot.

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Get the Dirt on Soil – February 25th – March 18th
Open to farmers and gardeners alike, this course is filling up fast!  

Our Conservation Course this year will meet Monday evenings from 6pm-8pm at the TwispWorks “YourSpace” building and will cover the basics of soil chemistry, biology, and carbon cycling.  In addition to enjoying instruction from professors of agronomy and soil science at WSU and Wenatchee Valley College, we’ll also hear from local farming and gardening gurus Tess Hoke, Brad Halm, Stina Booth, and Cloudbird Bonin! 

We’ll be introduced to the basics of soil chemistry and soil biology, and we’ll take a closer look at the role and the cycMatera Soille of carbon in the soil.  We’ll also explore common practices for improving soil health, and come away with some hands-on lessons to take to the field or the garden in the spring! 

Below is a quick look at each class:

  • February 25th: Basics of Soil Chemistry, with Dr. Jeff Bullock, Ph.D of Agricultural Sciences, Wenatchee Valley College
  • March 4th: Basics of Soil Biology, with Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Ph.D of Soil Science, WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • March 11th: Carbon Cycling in the Soil, with Dr. Haiying Tao, Ph.D of Crop and Soil Sciences and director of WSU’s Soil Fertility Lab. 
  • March 18th: Applied Practices for Improving Soil Health, with local garden gurus including: Tess Hoke, creator of YardFood, and Brad Halm, author of High-Yield Vegetable Gardening: Grow More of What you want in the Space You Have

The seminar series will meet from 6-8 pm on Monday evenings, location Your Space @ Twispworks.   The price for the course is $95, or $30 per class. To register or for more information, email Daniel or call (509) 996-2870. Photo at right by Stephen Matera.

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Get Ready to Bid!  The Methow Experience On-line Auction - Feb 21st – 28th  
Jane ChickensOur Board and Staff have been busy thinking creatively about all the way we can share with you what we love about the Methow Valley.  We’re putting the final touches on a carefully curated collection of 25+ Experience the Methow Auction Items. 

This auction is on-line only!  We’ll email you a link to preview the items and get familiar with the website in mid-February.  Then, the auction will open on the 21st and we’re sure the bidding will be fast and furious until the auction closes on the 28th. 

This is definitely not your usual auction of "stuff" but rather a chance to celebrate the “special nature” of this Valley.  With everything from bird photography, craft cocktail classes, weed pulling, sheep shearing, meeting Jane Gilbertsen's amazing chickens, and so much more this is your chance to fall deeper in love with all the adventure possible here in the Methow Valley. 

Remember, this is an online auction, so winning bids can come from anywhere!  All of the proceeds will go to our Annual Operating Fund – the engine that fuels all of our conservation work.  Photo at left from Jane's chicken tour last year.

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Jason Paulsen sunCan You Feel It?
While the recent super blood wolf moon captured a lot of attention last month (and what a sight it was!), you’ve probably been equally enchanted by that other bright object in the sky, our sun!

It was with much joy the other day that we noted it still being light outside when we left the office.  And who doesn’t enjoy being able to get out on the ski trail before work to watch that amazing palate of pinks and purples signal the arrival of a new day.  February is often that month where we really notice both the increase in daylight and the increased intensity of the sun.

On February 1st, apparent sunrise occurs at 7:30 a.m. here in the Methow, with sunset coming right at 5:00 p.m.  And by the end of the month, sunrise will occur at 6:45 a.m. with sunset at 5:43 p.m.  That’s right, a total of 88 extra minutes of daylight over those 28 days!

The angle of the sun is also increasing each day, rising an additional 8 degrees in the sky each month between the winter and summer solstice.   And if you’re lucky enough to be out on the snow around noon, you know how amazingly warm and invigorating the sun can feel even on the coldest of days.

It all combines to put a smile on our faces, and we look forward to seeing you outside this month enjoying all that our magnificent valley has to offer! Photo at right by Jason Paulsen.

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Upcoming Classes & Events
We’ll keep you busy in February and March with a full calendar of ways to get out and explore the Methow Valley. 

February 7th: Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Workshop.  We are partnering with the USDA’s Rural Development Office to offer a workshop for producers interested in preparing a grant application to the VAPG program. The workshop is free and open to farmers, but RSVP’s are required. 11-2pm, Pateros, Howard’s on the River Event Center.

trackingFebruary 9th: Winter Tracking with Nate Bacon - 8:30am-12:30pm, $45. Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with professional wildlife tracker and educator Nate Bacon.  Learn how to identify and interpret wildlife tracks and signs so that you can connect with the hidden lives of the creatures that share this land with us!  Snowshoes and good fitness are necessary.  Registration is required and space is limited.  Contact us at (509) 996-2870 or email us  to reserve your spot.

Feb. 20th: Big Valley Owling Adventure Round 2, 7 - 8:30pm, We’ll walk the Big Valley loop looking and listening for owls! To sign up, email us or call (509) 996–2870.  Free.  Full with a waitlist!

compostFebruary 23rd: Successful Composting in the Apple Maggot Quarantine.  We are thrilled to partner with the Okanogan WSU Master Gardeners, to offer a workshop on the finer points of back-yard composting for those wondering how to properly dispose of yard and household waste under new the apple maggot quarantine.  TwispWorks “YourSpace” building, 12p-3pm.  Free and open to all, but please RSVP to or (509) 422-7239.

First Tuesday: March 5: Citizen with Ryan T. Bell
The Winthrop Barn. Doors Open at 6:30pm, Presentation is from 7-8pm.  Free.
Local resident Ryan T. Bell is an award-winning photographer and feature writer who works in the American West, Russia, and the Steppes of Eurasia. He has written for National Geographic, Town & Country, Outside Magazine, Men's Journal, VICE, Bloomberg, and others.  In 2015 - 2016, Ryan served as a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow in Russia and Kazakhstan. He will share with us his experiences and process of working in these remote landscapes and uncovering the common culture that connects all people who are defined by the place they call home.

Mouse TracksMarch 9th: Winter Tracking and Trailing with Nate Bacon - 8:30am - 3:30pm, $65. Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with a professional wildlife tracker and educator. This full day course will cover tracking the behavior and ecology of wildlife as well as touching on winter tracking techniques. This will be a long day in winter weather and so snowshoes and good fitness are absolutely necessary.  Registration is necessary and space is limited to 10.  Contact us at 996-2870 or email us  to reserve your spot.

March 20th: Evening Equinox Adventure 7:30-9 pm, Free. Location: TBA  Join us for a snowshoe or walk under the bright full moon to welcome the formal first day of spring and enjoy the wonders of our natural world at night. The March full moon is considered to be a Super Moon because the Moon is near its closest distance to the Earth along its elliptical orbit--in other words, extra bright for nighttime nature walks! For more information on this astronomical phenomenon visit this link. Registration is necessary and space is limited to 20. Contact us at 996-2870 or email us  to reserve your spot.

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Same Place, Same Songs, but Different Night.
By Daniel Senner, Community Conservation Coordinator

Owling_Daniel SennerOn the night of January 16th Methow Conservancy Conservation Biologist Julie Grialou and I joined 12 hardy folks for a night walk out in the mixed mature forest of the Big Valley Loop.  We were hoping to hear some owls.  This is the start of their breeding season, a season that will extend into May for some of the species.  We were most interested in listening for five different year-round Valley residents: Northern saw-whet owl, Northern pygmy owl, Western screech owl, Great horned owl, and Barred owl.

The night was cloudy and the temperature was in the upper twenties--good weather for standing still. We left from the parking area and our process was to walk for 5-10 minutes, stop to play the different owl recordings from an Ipad with external speakers, wait and listen for about 5 minutes, and then continue on with this same process of walking, stopping, playing owl recordings and listening until we reached our turn-a-round point. We listened patiently, optimistically, and with intent. But we heard nothing. We covered at least a mile and a half before turning around and as we came back it started to snow softly as if to seal in the silence of this night. We went home slightly disappointed.

That soft snow turned into a good couple inches overnight.  I had hopes that if we got skunked on the second evening of owling, I might at least be able to find some mountain lion tracks in the fresh snow to sustain the group.

That night back in the Big Valley parking lot the owling group was livelier, chattier, and bigger than the previous night. Most likely everyone was feeding off the energy that only fresh snow can bring in the depths of winter. I was nervous about our prospects and refused to answer multiple questions about what the previous group had heard. We left the parking lot and stopped on the edge of the same conifer stand as the previous night for our first listening stop.

I was just about to play a recording for a Western screech owl when Jason Paulsen said in a hushed tone, “Got One!” Sure enough in between the barks of two distant dogs a faint call of a Great Horned Owl could be heard. After making sure everyone heard it, we marched on, following its call, hoping to get closer.  Eventually, we stopped underneath a massive cottonwood snag to listen and we heard a crisp distinct Great horned owl call. It was close. So we played a Great horned owl recording in response and got another Great horned owl to join in, and then another, and another. Soon four individual Great horned owls surrounded us in a chorus of song.

As we walked back I felt relief.  We had been in the exact same spot with the exact same songs as the night before, but with a much different outcome. We can’t always control or predict Mother Nature.  We can simply be in awe. Photo at left by Daniel Senner.

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Volunteers Rock!  Volunteer Methow
While we love winter, we are also looking forward to spring and the chance to get our hands dirty again with some spring stewardship activities! Get your work gloves ready and stay tuned for volunteer opportunities starting in April! (In the meantime, be sure to check out Volunteer Methow and all the great opportunities to help other nonprofits in this amazing Valley).

Starting in April, we plan on hitting the ground running with a calendar packed with weed eradication, restoration, trail work, debris removal and other volunteer opportunities on our properties like the Heckendorn Hillside and the new riverfront property we just protected in Mazama.   

If you volunteered with us in 2018, keep your eyes out for an email invite to our annual Volunteer Appreciation Gathering.  We’ll get together on Thursday, March 14th to share gratitude for your efforts and to hear a preview of 2019 opportunities.  We hope to see you at the Six Knot Taphouse for dinner and drinks while we regale tales from the volunteer field and get excited for the work yet to come!!

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New Members  - Thank You!
We are always grateful when new people join our list of supporters each month. This month we welcome and thank:  Keeley Brooks, Benjamin Johns, Andree Siu and Russell Johnson, Robin Nichol, Connie Roepke, Trish Rouse, and Jennifer Wilson.

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Our February  Reading List: 
Our email inboxes here at the Methow Conservancy are often full of articles we share with each other to help inform our work or inspire discussion.  We thought you might be interested in seeing what we’ve been reading.  

JeanneEditor’s note: These articles do not represent the beliefs or opinions of the Methow Conservancy or its staff. We offer them purely as a means of sparking discussion. 

Seattle Times: How a crumbling dam in the Enchantments could change our understanding of the PNW wilderness
This is an important ongoing situation playing out in our neighbor county to the south. The crux of the issue has to do with how to treat infrastructure that has been grandfathered into what is now designated wilderness. This is a good reminder that conservation in the West is steeped in history that is shaping the decisions land managers are making today.

Seattle Times: Decade of heavy storms has helped Northwest Glaciers, but don’t expect that to last, studies show
A new study conducted by researchers at University of Washington used satellite imaging data to measure surface elevations of every glacier in western North America and then they ran that data through a supercomputer to analyze glacial mass. What they found adds to the old saying that weather isn’t the same thing as climate.

Anchorage Daily News: Rogue cow wandering the Anchorage Hillside has managed to evade a police and drone search
Don’t fool yourself, this is a story about how to break out of your comfort zone and find the freedom and inner strength that you deserve. This inspiring tale is totally Methow! And for a follow up you might enjoy this article.  As far as we know, Betsy is still out there….

High Country News: See the West’s overlooked pollinators – like never before
Sam Droege who works for the USGS Geological Survey Bee Inventory, is attempting to bring attention to pollinators not through shocking statics, but by looking at them as art. Take a look at his macro photos and you’ll want one up on your wall.

Anchorage Daily News: Seattle Social worker who led a thrifty life leaves behind millions to charities
Never underestimate the capacity of someone to give. Alan Naiman has left an incredible legacy.

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News from the Community
Check out a full calendar of Methow Valley community events here.

American Farmland Trust is hiring a Pacific Northwest Agricultural Stewardship Program Manager, based in Seattle. This position will lead and manage their program to engage farmers in adopting sound farming practices to protect water quality, respond to the growing impact of climate change, and achieve other environmental benefits from well-managed farmland. You can find the job description and application instructions here.

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

*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