Methow Conservancy "Care for the Land" scholarship award winners
The Methow Conservancy offered two scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the Methow Valley and Okanogan regions. One $500 scholarship was available to a student within the Methow Valley School District boundaries and one $500 scholarship was available to a student who is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation graduating from school in Brewster, the Methow Valley, Okanogan, Omak, or Pateros. Students must be admitted to a 2-year or 4-year college or university or a trade/technical school in order to be eligible for the scholarship. The Scholarship Committee of the Methow Conservancy Board of Directors has selected two award recipients: Lily Colin and Paris Marchand.
Lily Colin, Liberty Bell High School Class of 2023
Lily has grown up in the Methow Valley and says "Although I love to travel and visit new places, I am always happy to return home to this beautiful place. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in such an amazing place."
Next fall Lily plans to attend the University of Washington as an Environmental Sciences major. "My life's goal is to be able to make a difference in protecting and restoring the land," she says. "I hope that my studies at UW and beyond will give me the tools and the knowledge to do so."
A biologist who spent time in the field with Lily noted her "enthusiasm and inquisitiveness."
In her essay about caring for the land, Lily says "To me, caring for the land involves three separate actions: to take action to preserve the beauty of the land, to educate oneself and others on what can be done to care for the land and to show appreciation of the land in words and deeds. "
The Methow Conservancy congratulates Lily and looks forward to helping her pursue her goal of protecting and restoring land.
Paris Marchand, Omak High School Class of 2023
Paris is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and says that after college she hopes to "come back to the reservation to help our youth and whatever else I can do to help." She plans to attend Pima Community College for two years and then transfer to the University of Arizona to study business.
Her school counselor says "Paris is driven and focused. She has a plan and smiles through obstacles. She is extremely positive and has high expectations for herself. Paris is a determined, resilient, and optimistic individual [who is] going places with a smile, a positive attitude, and a caring personality."
Paris's Indian Education Advisor says that "People admire her. They follow her and look up to her. She...wants everyone to succeed."
In her essay about caring for the land, Paris talks about planting trees, exploring beautiful places, and picking up garbage, calling those activities "simple acts of kindness."
The Methow Conservancy is proud to have Paris use our Care for the Land scholarship to continue her education and become the first college graduate in her family.
RiverRock Ranch Conservation Easement
We love bringing you this kind of news: another property has been conserved, thanks to the generosity of its owners, John Schoettler and Jeff Clapsaddle! Recognizing the important habitat values of their land, John and Jeff have donated a conservation easement covering 32 acres of their property and encompassing a section of the Methow River used by spring Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. The RiverRock Ranch Conservation Easement also includes 14 acres of intact riparian woodland that benefits fish habitat by contributing shading, large woody debris, and water filtering. It also provides habitat for numerous wildlife species, including black bear, cougar, white-tailed deer, Pacific treefrog, Townsend’s big-eared bat, great horned and saw-whet owls, and numerous neotropical-migrant songbird species.
In addition to providing rich and varied habitat for the Methow Valley’s fish and wildlife species, the RiverRock Ranch includes agricultural open space and is visible from State Route 20, offering scenic and open space vistas to residents and visitors alike.
A donated conservation easement means that the landowners received no compensation for protecting their land. John and Jeff voluntarily and permanently gave up rights to future residential development on the property to ensure the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, scenic views, and open space, forever. Learn more about conservation easements HERE.
John and Jeff’s love and vision for their land is evident in their landowner statement:
The Methow Valley has been a very special place for our family since 2004. We love the valley for its pristine diversity and inclusive community. In 2021, we stumbled across a unique opportunity to purchase 36 acres on the Methow River. From the moment we stepped foot on the property we immediately said, “they don’t make property like this anymore”. We envisioned the property and existing home as a generational endeavor, where we could become stewards of the land, preserving its natural beauty for the remainder of our lives, and for our children, our grandchildren and their children. The property offers scenic beauty, a rich and intact riparian area, and an abundance of wildlife, including white-tailed and mule deer, beaver, bobcat, bear, bats, mountain lion, and bald eagles. Through the Methow Conservancy’s Conservation Easement program, we are realizing our dream, and leaving this slice of the world better than when we first stepped foot on the property.
We thank John and Jeff for their thoughtful conservation of this special piece of land.
Rasa Conservation Easement
We are delighted to introduce a new piece of conserved property in the upper Methow Valley, made possible by a generous and conservation-minded landowner. Tom Bihn's Rasa Conservation Easement encompasses open fields, an area of mixed conifer forest, and a small area of deciduous woodland. The 45-acre property covered by the easement contributes to habitat connectivity between adjacent National Forest land and the Methow River and is part of a Priority Habitat Mule Deer Migration Corridor identified by WDFW. It is also highly visible from State Route 20 and provides scenic and open space values to residents and visitors.
Prior to the conservation easement, the Rasa property could have become a planned development with 13 lots. The conservation easement extinguished 10 of these lots, retaining three lots for a total of two residential dwellings and one ADU.
A donated conservation easement means that Tom Bihn received no compensation for protecting his land. He voluntarily and permanently gave up rights to future residential development on the property beyond the terms of the easement to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat, scenic views, and open space. Learn more about conservation easements HERE.
Tom Bihn's landowner statement reflects his love of the land.
I have had the good fortune to live in this part of the Methow Valley for ten years now. These 44 acres, in particular, have greatly impressed me with not just their scenic beauty, but with their abundance of wildlife. One of my favorite things to do is to walk the pasture land after the season’s first snow, and see the braided tracks of so many deer, bob cats and other animals. When I was able to purchase the property, my immediate, though inchoate, thought was to protect it as much as possible from further human impact: to let the wildlife have it forever. Through the Methow Conservancy’s Conservation Easement program, I am realizing my dream, and leaving this slice of the world a bit better than when I came here.
We are grateful to Tom Bihn for his vision for preserving the Methow Valley's rural character through this conservation easement, and to our community of conservation advocates, who make land protection like this possible.
Taylor Conservation Easement
We are thrilled to share the exciting news that Carlton residents Mark and Kay Taylor have chosen to protect the natural, scenic, open space, forest, fish, and wildlife values of their 119-acre property through a donated conservation easement.
The Taylor Conservation Easement is home to a diversity of wildlife species, from golden eagles to bobcat to moose, and is adjacent to the Methow River, which is used by spring and summer Chinook, summer steelhead, and bull trout. The property provides critical mule deer winter range and is also part of a mule deer (and other wildlife) migration corridor, with animals moving across the valley floor and between valley bottom and higher elevation public lands.
The Taylor Conservation Easement is visible from State Route 153 and the Methow River and provides scenic and open space vistas to residents and visitors in the area.
A donated conservation easement means that the Taylors received no compensation for protecting their land. They voluntarily and permanently gave up rights to future residential development on the property to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat, scenic views, and open space. Learn more about conservation easements HERE.
The Taylors' deep love for this land is evident in their landowner statement:
Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt stated, "The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Our intent in establishing a conservation easement for our property is to provide healthy land and healthy habitat for wildlife. This land provides a migration route from the high Cascades to a crossing on the Methow River, leading to winter shrub steppe which is critical habitat for mule deer. We feel privileged to live here, being caretakers of the land and the wildlife habitat. We want to see this land protected forever.
We offer gratitude to Mark and Kay, for having this legacy vision for their beautiful land, and to our community of conservation advocates, who make land protection like this possible.
Methow Conservancy provides perspectives for Semester in the West
Conservation is a complex issue and conservation solutions require creative thinking. That's one of many reasons why the Methow Conservancy is involved with Whitman College's Semester in the West program. Semester in the West (SitW) is an interdisciplinary field program focusing on public lands conservation and rural life in the interior American West. The program's objective "is to know the West in its many dimensions, including its diverse ecosystems, its social and political communities, and the many ways these ecosystems and communities find expression in regional environmental writing and public policy."
SitW students spend the first two weeks of their program in the Methow Valley discussing climate change, water use, collaboration, political and social cooperation, and protecting biodiversity. They also learn from local experts about how things work in the rural West and consider possibilities for its future. It's not surprising, then, that three of the local experts involved in the Fall '22 Semester in the West are connected to the Methow Conservancy.
Executive Director Sarah Brooks provided a "welcome to the Methow" address on the program's first night (click HERE to read a student's blog post about Sarah's talk); board member/podcaster Ashley Ahearn offered a podcasting session; and board member/fisheries biologist Kristen Kirkby took the students swimming with the salmon, to look at conservation and restoration activities aimed at saving imperiled fish.
As the 21 students in this "traveling learning laboratory" continue their journey throughout the American West this fall, they'll engage with other individuals and organizations who are influencing the culture and character of the West as well as creating programs and policies that shape its future. We hope that the Methow Conservancy's influence on these students is to inspire them to care for land and advocate on its behalf.
photo by Semester in the West crew