The Methow Conservancy, in Washington State's Methow Valley
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March 2009 ENews

1st Tuesday Program:  “Following Fish:  Is Stream Restoration Working?”
Tuesday, March 3rd, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub
Since 2004, local staff with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia River Research Laboratory and the Bureau of Reclamation have been tracking fish movements and their use of streams in the Methow River watershed.  Following the fish - steelhead, salmon, cutthroat trout, and bull trout - in Beaver, Libby, and Gold creeks tell us about stream connectivity and their response to restoration efforts.  The next phase of work involves evaluating the mainstem of the Methow River for possible stream restoration activities.  Join us for a presentation on this work and the wanderings and life histories of fish in the Methow.  Presenters include Patrick Connolly, Kyle Martens, and Wesley Tibbits. 

The pub will open at 6:00 p.m. for attendees who would like to purchase drinks or something from the light menu.  The event is free and open to everyone.  Questions?  Contact Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org.

Two New Conservation Easements Protect Farmland and Riverfront
Thanks to the conservation vision of Louis Sukovaty and Jennifer Argraves, and Tom and Ana Larson, two more private properties in the Valley are now permanently protected with Conservation Easements.

The Crown S Ranch Conservation Easement
Louis and Jennifer placed a conservation easement on 42 acres of their homestead and farm, known as Crown S Ranch.  Crown S Ranch is situated in the scenic and highly productive Middle Methow agricultural corridor along State Highway 20 and the Methow River.  This corridor is a conservation priority because of its high-quality farmland soils, access to irrigation water, established farming infrastructure, history of farm use, and high pressure for development.  The easement ensures the protection of a working farm and provides wildlife habitat, view-shed protection, aquifer recharge, groundwater storage, and a buffer to public lands. 

Demonstrating the chicken train The Crown S Ranch easement property has been a working farm or ranch since the mid- 1950’s, and was most likely utilized as farm or ranch land throughout the early and mid 20th century.  Currently, the Crown S Ranch property is a pasture-based, grass finishing operation raising cattle, pigs, and poultry using management-intensive pasture rotation, sometimes called grass farming.  Crown S Ranch provides locally produced and marketed organic meat, eggs, and vegetables.  A conservation plan prepared by the Natural Resources Conservation Service Okanogan Service Center guides the management and use of the rich soils and irrigation water available on the property. 

In addition to providing a source of local food for the community, this land also provides important forage, security cover, and movement corridors for a wide variety of wildlife, including mule deer, migratory songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl.  Many animals can attain a lot of their spring through fall habitat needs in this single area. 

Conservation easements on this and other nearby properties permanently protect the mosaic of working agricultural landscapes and open spaces that symbolize this well-traveled and highly visible portion of the Methow Valley. 

By protecting farmland, the Conservancy keeps land in farmable condition in perpetuity, helps local farmers keep farming and hopes to encourage the community to support local food production.

The Crown S Ranch conservation easement was made possible by a combination of private and public funding sources including the federal Farm and Ranch land program and the Washington State Farmland Protection Program in partnership with Okanogan County.  

The Larson Conservation Easement
The Larson conservation easement is 19 acres of undeveloped riparian forest and wetlands along approximately 400 feet of both sides of the Methow River, protecting 830 feet of total shoreline as well as open space and recreation trails. 

It is just south of Larson Conservation Easement, photo by Eric Bard. Mazama in a corridor of conservation properties and protected state and federal lands in the Upper Methow.  The protected property is in a 3.5 mile corridor containing eight existing Methow Conservancy conservation easements, totaling over 250 acres. 

The Larson property includes a diverse mixture of native plants in dense riparian forests and wetlands, open meadows and coniferous woodlands.  It provides excellent fish, songbird, amphibian, raptor, and large and small mammal habitat.  It also includes a deeded Right Of Way for the Methow Community Trail, a 16 mile winter and summer non-motorized recreation trail that goes from Winthrop to Mazama.

The Larson property includes portions of the active floodplain of the Methow River.  The variable habitats and undeveloped character of the property provide important forage, security cover and movement corridors for a wide variety of fish and wildlife, including endangered steelhead trout and Methow Valley Community Trail, going through the Larson Conservation Easement, photo by Eric Bard. spring Chinook salmon and the threatened bull trout, as well as bald eagles, mule deer, cougar and bear.  These habitats provide a critical link between the publicly owned uplands and the privately owned lowlands. The open space and natural qualities of the Larson property provide recreational opportunity and scenic views, conserve valuable wildlife habitat, and contribute to the rural character of the upper Methow Valley treasured by residents and visitors alike. 

Tom says, “Over the years, in my travels throughout the western United States, I’ve seen over and over again in small rural towns with recreational areas lose their appeal by both poor and over development plus greed.  Even though government plays a role in this situation both good and bad, it is the individual landowner who is ultimately responsible to try and keep the rural area appealing.  This is our way to hopefully keep the Methow Valley in a natural state.”

We thank Louis Sukovaty and Jennifer Argraves, and Tom and Ana Larson for their commitment to conservation and support of our work!

7th Annual Susie Stephens Memorial Bike Ride
Saturday, March 21st, 11:00 am
Join us for a fun bike ride to celebrate the inspiring life of our friend Susie Stephens. We'll meet at the Winthrop Park at 11:00 a.m., break up into a couple different groups depending on ability and time, and head out for a ride. We'll meet back in the park after the ride for lunch.

Susie was the Development Director at the Conservancy from 2000 - 2002. In March 2002 she was tragically hit and killed by a bus in St Louis. Susie was an avid cyclist, and a passionate advocate of bicycles for transportation, travel and recreation, as well as for bicycle and pedestrian safety.  We honor her and her work every year with this ride and invite others to join us.  

Please join us for Susie’s fun and informal annual memorial on March 21st!  Bring your own bike and helmet and a sack lunch.  RSVPs are not necessary but feel free to call us at 996-2870 if you’d like.

3rd Annual On-line Board of Directors Auction Starts March 16th!
How can you enjoy a day of guided fly-fishing, get local honey for a year, or go birding in Arizona all while helping us protect the rural beauty of the Methow Valley?  Participate in our unique online auction of course!  We are once again holding our Board of Directors Auction where our past and present Board Members offer interesting, fun and helpful skills to you, and 100% of the winning bids go toward our conservation efforts.  The auction is the perfect chance to enjoy some great Methow activities and help preserve our rural Methow landscapes!

A number of our items are fun for groups - bid with a group of friends to share a great experience together.

You could win:

  • A beekeeping education and year’s worth of honey through a hive adoption with Dave Sabold
  • A half-day fly-fishing float trip with Kevin van Bueren followed by a four course riverside meal by Char Alkire
  • A Methow garden consultation to jump start your garden, including plant starts and compost, with Jane Gilbertsen
  • A solar site assessment and solar electric system design by Ellen Lamiman Go fly fishing with Kevin van Bueren.
  • A trip to Sunny Pine farm to eat goat cheese and let your human kids play with goat kids with Vicky Welch
  • A locally grown harvest picnic, orchard tour and an armful of local produce with Beth and John Sinclair and Steve Dixon
  • An afternoon of games for children on the Twisp River and a gourmet picnic for parents with Mac Shelton
  •  A class on the basics and repair of small engines with Tom Doran
  • A half-day rock climbing lesson for children including lunch at the Mazama Store with Paul Butler
  • A fly-fishing lesson on the Chewuch finished with a scrumptious riverside dinner with Kristin Devin
  • An Arizona bed, breakfast and birding trip with Roy Farrell

The auction will run on eBay from March 16 to March 20.  Start thinking about your bids, and stay tuned for a reminder email from us with simple instructions for participating. Starting on March 16th at 9am PST, go to eBay's website and search for "Methow Conservancy". Click here for more details on each of these offers. 

“Shoulder Season” Outing: Land Conservation in the Rendezvous Field Tour
Saturday, March 14th, 9:00 am – NoonWalking in the Rendezvous, photo by Mary Kiesau.
Ski boots or mud boots?  Not sure what to do when it’s neither Winter nor Spring?  Join us on an interesting and educational tour of wide-open (and protected) spaces in the Rendezvous.  Enjoy the last of the snow, great views of the valley, and maybe even see your first sagebrush buttercup of the season!

Join our always knowledgeable and interesting Stewardship Staff, Steve Bondi and Eric Bard, for an excursion on protected land in and around the Gunn Ranch area.  This tour is free and open to the public – no registration is necessary.  Depending on the amount of snow, and your personal preference, bring boots, snowshoes or skis.  Meet at the Okanogan Country Electric Co-Op on the West Chewuch Road at 8:45 for carpooling.

“Imagine the Methow” – Our First Raffle Winner and More Chances to Win!
Since mid-January, Methow Conservancy volunteers have been out and about the valley and on the ski trails spreading the word about the connection between conservation and recreation.  As part of this awareness-raising effort, we passed out hundreds of information cards.  These cards offered people a chance to enter a free drawing for a beautiful framed print by local skier and artist Sean McCabe.  We held our drawing February 27th and the winner is…..Carol Ranck of Winthrop.  Congratulations!

We had such a good response to this outreach effort that we decided to do it again!  Look for us around the valley in March and April with a special card about how conservation is good for our local economy.  Your first chances to enter our next drawing – which will be a hot-air balloon ride for two! – will be at following events:

From March 6 – 8th, the skies of Winthrop and the Methow Valley will light up with the brilliant colors of hot air balloons in the annual Winthrop Balloon Roundup.  This year, the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce is partnering with a number of Methow Valley Balloon photo by Jason Paulsenbusinesses and organizations, including the Methow Conservancy, to create an activity-packed festival celebrating the beauty of the Methow Valley.  For a complete list of details and contact information, click here.  Of the many activities, don’t miss the Saturday night festivities in the Winthrop Barn.  At 7:00 pm, after the evening “Balloon Glow,” come to the Barn for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and deserts.  Listen to Nancy Zahn and the Glenn Isaacson Quartet.  The Methow Conservancy will present a slide show of visiting and local photographers' images between sets, around 8:00 p.m.  Look for our table and come say hi.  Just $5.00 gets you in the door! 

The following weekend, on March 14th, come back to the Winthrop Barn for the always fun (and filling!) Bite of the Methow, Winthrop Kiwanis’ annual community event and fundraiser.  “The Bite” features delectable treats as well as great auction items from local businesses and organizations in the Methow.  Come to the Methow Conservancy’s booth for Delicious Dirt Cupcakes and your chance to win our great balloon ride prize !  Doors open at 5pm.

Welcome New Members!
Last month we began highlighting and thanking new members in each month’s E-News.  Below are the people that have provided new membership support from January 28, 2009 to the present.  Thanks to them and all of you for your generous support!

Cary and Ken Blassingame, Marilyn and Gary Cunningham, Karen and Dick Evans, Bill Miller, Karen Newton, Deb and Keith Stennes, Octavia Cambliss and Jon Zulauf

News from Other Organizations
Methow Recycles is pleased to announce that it is now accepting a limited list of electronics in participation with a state-wide program which went into effect January 1, 2009.  The short list includes TVs, monitors, and desktop and laptop computers.  These four things represent the worst of the toxic electronics that find their way into our landfills.  All are accepted free of charge during regular Methow Recycles business hours.  For more information please check the Methow Recycles website. Tumble mustard, photo by Mary Kiesau.

The Okanogan County Weed Board is gearing up for weed season and wants to remind folks that their office staff can help people create a weed-control plan for their property.  Call or stop by the office (room 102 in the County courthouse in Okanogan) to get information on weed identification, bio-agents, mechanical methods, chemical use and general information.  They have lots of informational flyers on some of the most noxious weeds around here and free flash-cards to help with weed identification.  Much of this material is also available at the Methow Conservancy office, along with our Restoration Handbook.  The Weed Board is holding three separate 2-hour classes on April 24th a few miles north of Twisp to train people how to mix and use backpack sprayers.  A class will be held at 8am, 10:30am and at 1pm.  Registration is required.  Contact the office at 509-422-7165.

The Town of Winthrop and the Okanogan County Public Transportation Improvement Conference will host a public open house on Wednesday, March 11th at 7pm at the Winthrop Barn.  This open house is designed to gather community input on current and future needs for public transportation in the Methow Valley and the county as a whole.  All Methow Valley community members are encouraged to attend.  Please come and share your ideas and experiences to help shape the future of public transportation in Okanogan County.  For more information please contact:  Winthrop Mayor Dave Acheson at 996-2320 or mayor@townofwinthrop.com or Tom Hanson at hansont@wsdot.wa.gov or 509-667-3029.

Events
Below, you'll find announcements about events or publications (ours and those of other organizations) that we think you might find interesting.

February 28th – April 11th:  Confluence Gallery’s “Then and Now, A Historical View of the Methow Valley” exhibit features old time photos from the Shafer Historical Museum collection and contemporary interpretations by regional artists.  The Winthrop Gallery will present a companion exhibit, “Images of the Methow,” through March 30th.   

March 3rd:  Methow Conservancy 1st Tuesday, “Tracking Fish and Connecting Streams in the Methow,” 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub.  Free and open to the public. 

March 6 - 8th:  Winthrop Balloon Roundup, a celebration of the Methow Valley’s beauty.  The Methow Conservancy is a co-sponsor of this event this year.  See above for more details.

March 14th: Land Conservation in the Rendezvous Field Tour, 9:00 am - Noon. Join our always knowledgeable and interesting Stewardship staff, Steve Bondi and Eric Bard, for an excursion on protected land in and around the Gunn Ranch area. This tour is free and open to the public – no registration is necessary. Depending on the snow (or lack thereof), and your preference, bring boots, snowshoes or skis. Meet at the Okanogan Country Electric Co-Op on the West Chewuch Road at 8:45 for carpooling.

March 14th:  The Bite of the Methow, Winthrop Kiwanis’ annual community event and fundraiser, featuring delectable treats and auction items from local businesses and organizations in the Methow.  Come to the Methow Conservancy’s booth for Delicious Dirt Cupcakes!  Doors open at 5pm.

March 16 - 20th: 3rd Annual On-Line Board of Directors Auction, The auction is the perfect chance to enjoy some great Methow activities and help preserve our rural Methow landscapes! Click here for more details.

2008 Susie Bike Ride Crew

March 21st: 7th Annual Susie Stephens Memorial Bike Ride, 11:00 a.m. Join us for a fun bike ride to celebrate the inspiring life of our friend Susie Stephens. We'll meet at the Winthrop Barn at 11:00 a.m., break up into a couple different groups depending on ability and time, and head out for a ride. Join us for lunch afterwards whether you ride or not. Bring your own bike and helmet. RSVPs are not necessary but feel free to call us at 996-2870 if you’d like.

April 7th:  Methow Conservancy 1st Tuesday, Can We Feed Ourselves?: Agriculture and People in the Methow,” 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub.  Free and open to the public.  

May 9th:  Nature Journaling and Field Sketching Class, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Learn to observe, explore and connect with the natural world through natural journaling and sketching.  Local school teachers, Hana Baker and Sarah Varick will introduce basic journaling, drawing and watercolor techniques, and help you create vibrant drawings in a trail-side setting.  No experience necessary.  Ages 10 and up.  Registration required.  Limited to 15 people.  Bring a blank-paged journal, and if you have them colored pencils and/or watercolors.  Suggested donation of $10/person. Contact Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org.

May 14th – 17th:  Spring Naturalists’ Retreat with instructors Libby Mills and Dana Visalli.  Limited to 20 people. This fantastic educational field class costs $130/person.  To register or for more information contact Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org.


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