The Good Neighbor Handbook

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Photo courtesy of Methow Valley News


You’ve decided to make the Methow Valley a part of your life. It’s a special place: beautiful, rugged, fragile, resilient and complex.

People have been caring for the Methow Valley for thousands of years. The Methow Valley is the traditional homeland of members of the Salish-speaking Methow Tribe, who continue to make a home here. Today, we strive to continue the tradition of being a good neighbor to the land, wildlife, and each other.

The Methow Valley has not stayed wild and pastoral by accident. This is a community that believes it has a say in the future. Certainly, not everyone may agree on what the future should look like – and hearty conversation and respectful disagreement are welcome.

The Methow Valley is a place where people engage, learn, think deeply, collaborate, and know that loving a place means taking action to care for it.

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Photo by Emily Chenel

Navigating new relationships to people and place can be a bit daunting. So we've created a guide. If you are visiting this website, then you probably have already seen our Good Neighbor Handbook. If you haven’t yet, you can download and read it here or you can email us and we’ll gladly send you a copy.

In one printed handbook, however, we just can’t cover everything in-depth. So, we’ve created this on-line resource guide where you can dig deeper on a topic of special interest and where we can easily update and grow a directory of dynamic and current information.

Bookmark this page and dive in!

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Photo by Jason Paulsen

The History of the Methow Valley

  • Methow Valley Interpretive Center: a nonprofit organization based in Twisp, with a mission to foster cultural awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples and the natural history of the Methow Valley and Upper Columbia region through education, interpretation, creative expression and cross-cultural connections.
  • The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation: Twelve Bands compose the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation: Chelan, Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce, Colville, Entiat, Lakes, Methow, Moses-Columbia, Nespelem, Okanogan, Palus, San Poil, Wenatchi. This website provides a rich and deep exploration of their history, culture, and sovereignty.
  • The Shafer Historical Museum: a nonprofit living history museum in Winthrop, with a mission to share the history, culture and sense of place in the Methow Valley
  • We recommend the following books, available from North Central Washington Libraries, Trails End Bookstore, The Shafer Historical Museum, and the Methow Valley Interpretive Center:
    • First On The Land, by Chuck Borg. Researched and written by Chuck Borg, raised in Pateros, exploring how the Dawes Act impacted the Methow Tribe when they were removed from their ancestral land.
    • Last Chief Standing: A Tale of Two Cultures, by Wendell George. This is a tale of two cultures describing how one Indian family moved from a nomadic existence into the modern world and resisted extinction.
    • Native Methow: Improving Posterity, by Jay Miller. Methow traditions and Interior Salishan lifeways of North Central Washington State, with comparisons for the Fraser~Columbia Plateau and Native Americas.
    • Lost Homeland: The Methow Tribe and the Columbia Reservation, by E. Richard Hart. Historian and Winthrop resident Richard Hart gives voices to the compelling, little-known story of how the Methow Indians of North Central Washington lost their homeland.
    • We are the Methow, by Joanna Bastian. A history of the First People of the Methow Valley as told through the Miller Family.
    • The Smiling Country, by Sally Portman. Written by Winthrop’s retired Librarian, this book offers a survey of human history in the Methow Valley up through the early 2000’s.
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Photo by Benj Drummond

About the Valley Today

  • Methow Valley News: Our local newspaper, it’s a weekly resource to stay current on what’s happening in and on the mind’s of the community.
  • State of the Methow: The Methow Valley is facing increased development pressure and significant public policy decisions are being made about land use. The State of the Methow project is a data collection and dissemination project about the Methow Watershed and its people.
  • The Multi-Faceted Life of Carl Miller, from the Methow Valley News: There’s so much great inspiration in this beautiful piece written by Ashley Lodato about a real giant in the Methow Valley’s recent history but also in the example of what it means to be a part of this community.
  • Volunteer Methow: Finding a cause that moves you and getting involved in the community is at the heart of living in the Methow. This community-created website introduces you to a variety of nonprofit organizations and how to volunteer with them. It also offers a Resource tab that links to various research projects that have been done through the years in the Methow on everything from housing to trails.
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Photo by Denny O'Callaghan

Living With Wildlife in the Methow Valley

  • Methow Conservancy Stewardship Yellow Pages: A listing of individuals, organizations, businesses, and other websites or books with expertise in different areas of land stewardship.
  • Methow Conservancy First Tuesdays: A monthly series of public presentations about a wide range of topics, from wildlife to human connections to the land. You can find upcoming First Tuesdays on our Events Page or subscribe to our monthly E-news. And you can find recordings of recent First Tuesdays on our website, too.
  • Methow Conservancy BackYard Bulletin: A periodic guide to what’s happening in our own backyard’s here in the Methow.
  • Fish in the Methow: A handy site with lots of resources to help you learn more about the various fish who call the Methow’s waters home.
  • An Overview of Wildlife in the Methow: The Washington Department of Wildlife is a great resource for information about the critters that call our state home. Keep your eyes out, too, for the Methow Valley Field Guide – a pocket guide featuring more than 120 plant and animal species in the Methow. Available for sale at our office or at local bookstores and retailers.
  • Birds!: We created an introductory guide to some of the more common feathered friends you might find in the Methow Valley.
  • Bees!: The Methow is home to hundreds of native bees and pollinators. With the right plantings, you can provide food and habitat for them.
  • Bears!: We share this beautiful valley with many amazing creatures, including bears. There are several important things you can do to be Bear Aware--check out our special Bear Aware information.
  • Wildlife-safe Fencing: When building new fences for livestock, you can ensure that you also keep wildlife safe with some design considerations. And, know that if you are hoping to keep a home garden, you'll need a fence to exclude deer.
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Photo by Methow Conservancy Staff

Water in the Methow Valley

  • We keep a detailed Water Resources page with numerous links to all types of water information on our website here.
  • If you are planning to build, you will want to be sure you have access to legal water and are not in a closed basin or other area affected by current water conditions. You’ll want to call the Okanogan County Building Department for specific information about your property.
Photo by Dawn Woodruff

Forests in the Methow Valley

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Photo by Methow Conservancy Staff

Shrub-Steppe Land in the Methow Valley

  • Shrub-Steppe Restoration Guide: Our Shrub-Steppe Restoration Guide is for anyone who lives on or cares for shrub-steppe lands – those semi-arid hillsides and plateaus dominated by perennial grasses and shrubs like bitterbrush or sage. It provides guidance on protecting and restoring shrub-steppe habitat on a small scale, strategies for weed control, and ways to rehabilitate the land after disturbances like new driveways, septic fields, and homesites. Pick up a free copy at our office in downtown Winthrop, or email us to mail one to you, or download a copy here.
  • We’ve created a detailed on-line Weed Guide to help you learn more about the invasive species that can hurt the fragile shrub-steppe habitats.
Photo by Jason Paulsen

Getting to Know Your Human Neighbors

Photo by Mary Kiesau

Recreation in the Methow Valley

There are a variety of local organizations focused on different forms of recreation in the Methow Valley. Look one up for more info or to volunteer!

Photo by Methow Conservancy Staff

Farms and Agriculture in the Methow Valley

Photo by Methow Conservancy Staff

Building in the Methow Valley

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Photo by Teri Pieper

Dark Skies

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Photo by Jason Paulsen

Living with Fire

  • Fire Preparedness and Recovery: After the devastating 2014 and 2015 fires in the Methow Valley, we created a detailed guide to excellent resources to help you prepare for fire or to live thoughtfully in land that has burned.
  • Don’t be the spark! Something as mundane as parking your car in tall grass or dragging a loose chain from your trailer can be the beginning of a wildfire that consumes thousands of acres. Be aware of burn bans and “fire precaution levels” that prohibit the use of spark-emitting equipment.
  • Native Americans have long used fire as a tool for stewarding the landscape and creating a mosaic of habitats for diverse plant and animal neighbors. Here’s a great reading list, provided by the Methow Valley Interpretive Center and Dale Swedberg.
  • Local public land managers often conduct prescribed burning in the spring or late fall. This helps reduce the severity of future fires by clearing the understory. Scheduled prescribed burns can be found here.

It is also important to think about building a home that is wildfire ready. This report from Headwaters Economics entitled Building a Wildfire-Resistant Home: Codes and Costs provides valuable insights. And, the Firewise Website provides straightforward information to make your home safer during wildfires.

Dry River 2 by Jason Paulsen

Climate Change and the Methow Valley

  • Local scientist Amy Snover, from the University of Washington Climate Impact Group, is an expert on the specific changes that can be expected for the Methow Valley. Watch a video of her Methow presentation, here.
  • Check out the Methow Climate Action Plan here, the result of a years-long community- process, and learn what you can do and about the next steps being taken by local organizations, businesses, and individuals.
  • The Colville Confederated Tribes have done extensive work to understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change in our region. Watch this video with Amelia Marchand, former Environmental Trust Department Director to learn more or read the Physical Drivers Report or Key Species Vulnerability Assessment.
  • The North Cascadia Adaption Partnership is a collaboration between major public land holders, including the North Cascades National Park and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. NCAP created an extensive adaption plan to protect our region’s public wild places and natural resources.
  • For over 25 years, Methow Recycles has been helping local families and businesses reduce, re-use, repair, recycle, and compost. Check out their Repair Cafe, or their Take-it-or-Leave it program!
  • Some businesses give back to support the Methow Conservancy’s work to protect the critical habitats and prime agricultural soils of the Methow.
  • You can do your part, too. In addition to using Methow Recycles great services, think about taking our local public transportation when you can – Trango!

Inspiring people to care for the land of the Methow Valley since 1996.

Join Team Methow Conservancy and support conservation work in the Methow Valley!