Wild Fire Preparation, Recovery & Restoration Information
Updated June 21, 2016


We never imagined that one year after the Carlton Complex Fire, our valley and neighboring areas would again be dealing with large-scale wildfires.  First, we want to express our gratitude to the firefighters and all the other support staff and volunteers and community members  who have worked so hard and risked so much over the last few weeks.  We are so saddened by the tragic loss of three young lives and the serious injuries of a fourth firefighter.

We know that we all must move forward, and we know that our community is one of support, compassion, and resilience. After last year’s fires, the community has built its capacity for long-term recovery, and we are confident in the teamwork and partnerships that have been forged over the last 12 months.  We know that recovery will take a long time, but we know that our landscape and our community will recover, with the help of those near and far.  As a land trust, our time horizon is always “forever”, and we’re here to support recovery for the long haul. 

The information below provides resources and information regarding short- and long-term recovery from the Carlton Complex Fire and Twisp River/Okanogan Complex Fire, as well as fire preparedness information. We have also provided information on how you can help the Methow Valley and surrounding communities. We will update this resource page with information and news over the coming weeks and months. Please see the links above or scroll down for detailed information on each topic. Feel free to let us know what other resources you hope to see from us by emailing info@methowconservancy.org or by calling 509-996-2870. 

Air Quality Information
While the fires are still burning in our region, smoke and air quality will be issues.  For up-to-date information on air-quality, go to https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/Default.htm .

For People Who Have Property Affected by the Fires and/or Mud Flows
Photo by Mary Kiesau
Fire Survivor. Photo by Mary Kiesau

First, please know our thoughts are with you and we hope to stand with you as you journey through the recovery process. Your property is unique and its habitat type and the severity of the burn will affect the eventual recovery of the vegetation on it. Our staff are available to visit your property for an initial assessment of the potential damage and then share resources that will help you in the restoration of your property. Please call us at 509-996-2870 or email info@methowconservancy.org to schedule a free visit.

  • Get flood insurance. Flash floods can affect burned land AND land downhill or downstream from burned areas. If you think you may have a flood risk due to wildfire, talk to your insurance agent about a National Flood Insurance policy (via FEMA but sold by local insurance agents). To learn more about your risk for flooding and how to prepare for floods, visit
    https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/flood_after_fire.jsp and Flash Flood Information
    and Myths & Facts About the National Flood Insurance Program

  • Fire burned right up to many homes on the Twisp River Road. Photo by Mary Kiesau

  • What to do with burned materials and debris and returning to you home after fire: The Okanogan County Public Health Department has issued these important factsheets for cleaning-up. These handouts mention the Carlton Complex, but are still true for this fire.
  • Betsy Cushman of Methow Recycles can consult with you regarding what to do with your burned materials and debris.  Specifically, she can tell you what you can recycle, what can be safely buried, and what should be hauled away as waste.  Betsy can be reached at 509-996-2696.  Note that Methow Recycles has teamed up with Cascade Concrete and local contractors to give property owners an opportunity to recycle metal debris (roofing, appliances, farm equipment, vehicles, etc.). These handouts mention the Carlton Complex, but are still true for this fire. See this link for more details: Fire Recovery Metal Recycling

  • Our native habitats are adapted to fire and in most circumstances will recover quickly without intervention. This two-page Restoration Handout outlines basic strategies for rehabilitating the types of places that will need help.

  • Restoring firelines is a major post-fire task. See this one-page "Fireline Rehabilitation Strategies" fact sheet for info and tips.  Note that seeding should not been done until fall.

  • Forest Born of Fire Video: Western US forests burned by high-intensity fire are important and rare wildlife habitat. This video, made by the Wild Nature Institute, demonstrates the beauty and life found where burned forests are left to wild nature.
  • The seed mixes we recommended for erosion and weed control are from BFI Seeds and Rob Crandall of Methow Natives. Click here for the BFI mixes. Rob Crandall can be reached at methownatives@methownet.com. Note that any seeding should not been done until fall.
  • The Methow Conservancy's "Restoring Shrub Steppe in the Methow Valley" handbook is a free and useful 40-page resource. It helps people learn about the shrub-steppe landscape; evaluate their property; create a restoration plan; learn about watering systems; identify weeds and choose control methods; and prepare for restoration plantings. Pick it up at our office or download it here: http://methowconservancy.org/restoration.html

  • The Okanogan Conservation District (OCD) has a very useful webpage with numerous resources for landowners that have experienced fire activity on their property. Go to http://www.okanogancd.org Please note that in some cases, our seeding recommendations are different than what is listed on this website. Seeding is site specific and we are happy to do a free site visit to give you our seeding recommendations.

  • The Washington Department of Natural Resources also has staff available to provide technical expertise related specifically to tree damage, merchantability, and recovery actions. Click here for an informative article about dead trees from local DNR staff Ken Bevis (a fire victim himself). Steve Harris (DNR) at 509-684-7474 can evaluate hazard trees.

  • In areas that were severely burned, soil erosion can be the most immediate consequence and can cause adverse effects on many ecosystems. This document, put out by Colorado State University, provides good information individual landowners can do to reduce erosion.

  • Check out the "Stewardship Yellow Pages" we compiled here at the Methow Conservancy. It's a detailed list of individuals, organizations, and businesses that have expertise in a wide variety of areas of land stewardship, include downed trees, forest management, land restoration and more.

  • If you are a farmer or rancher that has had drought, etc. issues with your forage there is a Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) makes the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) a permanent program and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to Oct. 1, 2011. LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county. LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses on rangeland managed by a federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire.

  • This "Step-by-Step Home Insurance Claim Recovery Guide" is helpful for anyone dealing with insurance issues.

  • If you need legal services of any kind, with your insurance or understanding forms or just advice, Ruth Esparze with the Northwest Justice Project is offering free help. She can be reached at 509-664-5101.

  • If you are interested in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest's Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team check out this link: http://centralwashingtonfirerecovery.info/

Finally, it is important to remember that we live in a landscape that is adapted to fire. Many native plants in our area, from shrub-steppe flowers like arrowleaf balsamroot to riparian plants like willows and aspen, can often recover well without intervention and re-growth will occur even if they are burnt now. It's often best to give plants and soil some time.

Protecting Your Home & Land from Future Wildfire:

How You Can Help the Methow Valley
Much of the recovery work will need to be done by local organizations, churches and community members.  There are several local entities who are welcoming financial donations specifically for those affected by the fires.  Please know that this list may not be exhaustive and if you have specific questions about how the funds will be used, you can contact the organizations directly:
    • The Cove – Serving “aid, food, shelter, and comfort” throughout the Methow Valley fromTwisp.  They plan to use funds to help people affected by the fires with immediate needs – like vouchers that prevent them from eviction or help to avoid getting their power shut off.  Their website is:  http://www.thecovecares.com/ and to donate online to the Cove go to:  http://www.thecovecares.com/donate-support.html

    • The Community Foundation of North Central Washington – Has started a special Fire Relief Fund taking a long term approach towards rebuilding economic development in the aftermath of the fires.  To see their website and specific donation information go to:  http://www.cfncw.org/firerelieffund/

    • Aero Methow – Our Valley’s emergency medical services have been busy throughout this week.  To help support Aero Methow Rescue Service you may donate to the Aero Methow Rescue Service Fire Support Fund at any NCNB Branch - a division of Glacier Bank, Farmers State Bank or www.aeromethow.org

    • CCAN - Carlton Complex Assistance Network -- has been formed by local residents to provide for immediate needs of victims of the Carlton Complex fires. Their website is: http://www.ccanrelief.org/

    • Okanogan County Community Action Council - serving greater Okanogan County for 47 years in an effort to end poverty.  Their website is:  http://www.occac.com/

    One of the best ways to help the Methow is to spend your dollars locally whether you live here all the time or just some of the time.  Working people across the full spectrum of employment - farmers, artists, business owners, restaurant and hotel staff, construction workers, yoga teachers and more – were affected directly and indirectly by the fires, and the more money we can circulate locally the quicker these folks will recover.

    We also recognize that over the next few weeks and months the Valley may need additional volunteer help – from building fence to helping spread the word about upcoming workshops and information sessions.  If you are willing to volunteer, email us at info@methowconservancy.org and let us know what special skill set you are willing to share.  We can’t promise an immediate placement but we will do our best to connect you to a meaningful chance to help.

    Methow Valley Long Term Recovery
    In the months since the Carlton Complex fires raced across much of the Methow Valley, our community has seen countless individuals and organizations helping people transition from crisis to recovery.  One of the primary things the Methow Conservancy has been doing for the Carlton Complex Fire, and which we will do for the Twisp River Fire, is offer individualized landowner site visits, and ecological, natural resource and agricultural assistance and resources to landowners impacted by the fires and flooding.  The Methow Conservancy has also been a constructive participant in the collaborative effort known as Methow Valley Long Term Recovery.
    One of the lessons learned from natural disasters around the country is that the success of a community recovering from a disaster depends less upon the type and scale of the disaster itself, and more upon the ability of a community to come together early in the disaster to coordinate, both to the initial response and to the longer-term recovery process.  It’s clear that a cohesive, collaborative effort involving a wide range of non-profit, governmental, business, and faith-based organizations will ensure that a community emerges stronger and more prepared for future events, and Methow Valley Long Term Recovery intends to do that.

    Methow Conservancy Executive Director Jason Paulsen is a member of the Board of Methow Valley Long Term Recovery which formed in 2014 in the wake of the Calrton Complex Fires.  Jason will continue to work to ensure that both land restoration and agricultural issues are understood and incorporated into the vast recovery process that includes individual assistance, short-term housing and sustainable rebuilding, infrastructure development, business recovery, and future disaster preparedness.  “I continue in this effort in the wake of our most recent Twisp River fire believing that our Methow Valley community will one day serve as a model for other communities with respect to how we help one another ensure that all sectors of our community, and the families affected, not only recover, but emerge from this effort with greater strength and resiliency”, said Jason.

    Methow Valley Long Term Recovery will collaborate with the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery organization as well as new organizations likely to take form in the Okanogan Valley.

    Please feel free to contact us here at the Methow Conservancy if you have specific questions we can help to answer.

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