November Enews
Photo by Jason Paulsen

November Enews

Dark Sky by Willy Duguay
Photo by Willy Duguay

First Tuesday Presentation:
Keep our Stars Bright

Tuesday, November 5th, 7:00 – 8:00pm,
The Winthrop Barn
Free, No RSVP required

David Ingram, a leader of the Northwest chapter of the International Dark Sky Association, will share information about the movement to protect the Earth's night sky with environmentally responsible lighting. Currently Okanogan County has some of the darkest skies in the lower 48 and David will share ways that we can work together to keep our stars bright. What could be more western than a beautiful clear night sky!

Compost by Johnnie Duguay
Photo by Johnnie Duguay

Learn with Us!

With the holiday season fast approaching, we know your calendars get full quickly! Here are a few great learning opportunities to be sure to squeeze in:

To get all the details on these events (and more!) and for information on registering, check out our Events page here.

Chair Set Up Alyssa Jumars
Photo by Alyssa Jumars

Volunteer with Us!

In the next few weeks we want to thank all you amazing volunteers and offer some new opportunities to share your time, energy, and expertise:

As always, we'll keep our Volunteer Methow website up to date with new opportunities!

Ski black and white JP small
Photo by Jason Paulsen

We're Coming to Seattle!

The Seattle/Methow Mixer
Monday, November 18th, 7:00-8:30pm
University Heights Center
5031 University Way
Seattle, WA 98105
(plenty of free parking in lot)

A free, fun event featuring special guest Don Portman sharing his must-see slideshow (and we do mean slides!) of The History of Cross-Country Skiing in the Methow Valley. Get excited for winter with this insightful blast from the past and mingle with others who share your love for the Methow Valley. Plus, we’ll bring dessert from beloved Methow bakers!

Free admission….no RSVP required…Last minute attendees and friends always welcome. Kid friendly!

Community dinner 2
Photo by Mary Kiesau

Four-Thoughts: A Holiday Community Dinner

Friday, December 6th, 5:30–8pm,
Venue: Winthrop Barn

Tickets required, as seating is limited. Order your free tickets here.

We are trying something new for our usual December First Tuesday and Holiday Gathering. On Friday, December 6th, we’ll host our first-ever Four-Thoughts: A Holiday Community Dinner in The Winthrop Barn. Soup, salad, bread, and dessert will be offered for free as a way for us to thank the community for supporting conservation and for caring about the future of this Valley. Wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for sale. During dinner, we’ll take an opportunity to honor conservation leaders in the community with our annual awards.

Following the community dinner, we’ll turn the program over to four of the Methow Valley’s finest thought leaders. Each speaker will inspire us with their ruminations on the theme for the night: Caring for the Land.

While dinner is free of charge, seating is limited and registration is required. Sign up here now to reserve your spot. Questions? Email us or call 509-996-2870.

Snow on Larches JP
Photo by Jason Paulsen

Announcing Our Winter Conservation Course

This winter’s Conservation Course is going to be … well, a bit chilly. Join us for a series of Monday-evening seminars (in a warm indoors space, we promise!) starting in February focused on Winter Ecology. We’ll be hosting diverse expert speakers from near and far to walk us through concepts in snow science, and to take a deep dive into how plants, animals, and humans have adapted for winter over time. It will be a fascinating way to spend a few winter evenings! Registration and details coming soon.

Cider squeeze jp
Photo by Jason Paulsen

Another Successful Cider Squeeze

We were amazed at the hardy crowd of more than 150 people who braved the threat of snow for this year's annual Cider Squeeze. Together we squeezed two bins of apples into tasty juice, met tons of new people, and enjoyed watching a whole new generation of cider squeezers take their turn in the canoe and on the cider press. We can't thank Marilyn and Dave Sabold enough for opening their home to this annual tradition and we marvel every year at how something as simple as gathering and apples can bring so many people together.

In addition to offering our gratitude to Marilyn and Dave, we say big thanks to The Rivertown Ramblers for the perfect tunes, Rocking Horse Bakery for the tasty cake, and Paul Herget for once again hand-making more than 50 birdhouses to give away. Hope to see you next year!

Homestream Park JP
Photo by Jason Paulsen

Homestream Park Opens!

On October 13th, we were honored to celebrate with Cathy and Phil Davis and so many people, cultural and community organizations, and businesses, who worked together to create Homestream Park at the entrance to Winthrop. A crowd of more than 300 people took part in celebrating the opening of the park, with a walking trail, incredible sculptures by Smoker Marchand, and interpretive signs sharing the story of the fish and Native People, past and present, who have called this Valley home for thousands of years. You can read all about the opening and the meaningful role of the park in this excellent article in The Methow Valley News. The park is now officially open (with parking at the Town Trailhead) and it is a wonderful place to pause, reflect, and connect with this Valley.

1st Tues on the Farm Jumars
Photo by Alyssa Jumars

From the Ag Desk:

Each winter, we offer a handful of workshops, specifically for farmers and ranchers. It's an opportunity to connect our local producers to information, regional expertise, resources, and also each other. This winter, we will be hosting workshops on farmland succession planning and direct marketing strategies. We'll be collaborating with the Okanogan WSU Extension to host a satellite for the national Women in Agriculture conference. We'll also be coordinating one-on-one "soil health consultations" between WSU staff and farmers. And we hope to initiate a farmer-driven "carbon farming learning group." Stay tuned for details, which will be posted on our events page!

Heide binoculars

School Yard Science Goes Birding

Big kudos to the volunteers from Audubon of North Central Washington who joined our School Yard Science program this month. Janet and Peter Bauer and Julie Hovis led our two classes of 4th graders on a birding walk in the school yard. Armed with binoculars, every student had a chance to search for and then identify 12 wooden birds that were “hidden” in various habitats around the schoolyard. The students had keen eyes and tons of enthusiasm, and this year we all even found that elusive ruby crowned kinglet out there! It is really awesome to share experiences like working with real world experts to use binoculars and thinking about bird identification with our students. We're so inspired, that we're already thinking about fundraising to purchase our own wooden bird set. It's pretty fun!

Big Thanks 2018
Photo by Jason Paulsen

More Thanks!

Last month we mailed out our Annual Appeal letters – and thank you to so many of you who have already renewed your support of our efforts to inspire people to care for the land. In October we met our $10K limit for the Community Foundation of North Central Washington’s Give Methow Campaign. Thank you to all who donated! We still need to raise significant funds to meet our annual fundraising goal. We are always accepting donations through the mail or our secure website. It’s pretty great to be a part of community that cares so much! You sure inspire us!

Photos by Kat Werle

Bat News

from Julie Grialou (our Conservation Biologist)

Last month, I showed a friend’s photos of dead bats stuck in a plant I identified as thistle. Some kind Methow Conservancy members pointed out that the plant was not thistle but burdock and also provided some links to some interesting information on burdock, bats, and birds. Both thistles and burdock plants have spinelike parts, but the burdock “spines” contain barbs and are more Velcro-like and more readily stick to objects, whether that is clothing on humans or a bat’s wings. In addition to bats, entrapment of numerous small bird species (e.g., kinglets, goldfinches, nuthatches, chickadees, and warblers) by burdock has been documented. Note that burdock is not native to our area and is fairly easy to control. The best approach is to remove the entire plant by pulling it up from the root. If seeds have not set, the plant parts can be left on the ground. If seeds have set, the seed heads should be bagged and discarded. If uprooting of the entire plant is not practicable, young plants (prior to flowering) can be mowed or cut down; for older plants, the flowering stems should be clipped before the seeds are set. Be sure not to compost the seed heads as they may not be destroyed by the composting process.

Snowshoe hare transitional coloring 1
Photo by D. Sikes [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

Snowshoe Hares, Camouflage, and Climate Change

by Julie Grialou, Conservation Biologist

The ability of prey animals to blend in with their environment is key to their survival. Some prey animals, such as the snowshoe hare, change the coloring of their coat from brown to white in winter to better camouflage with the snow. However, snowshoe hares that live outside of seasonally snowy environments do not change their coat; and even in some snowy areas, particularly those that have a shorter snow season, there is a small percentage of the hare population that remains brown year-round.

Researchers have studied the genetic mechanism of color change in snowshoe hares, comparing snowshoe hares that turn white in winter with snowshoe hares that don’t turn white and with black-tailed jackrabbits (a species that never turns white in winter). The genetic results provide evidence that, over evolutionary time, snowshoe hares and jackrabbits have mated multiple times; a result is snowshoe hares with “borrowed” pigmentation genes from jackrabbits that prevent the hares from turning white in winter.

With climate change and shorter winters, researchers have speculated that snowshoe hares in historically snowy areas will be at greater risk of predation, because white hares on unusually snow-less ground will stick out to predators. Interestingly, researchers at the University of Montana have been noting high levels of snowshoe hare mortality in recent winters with relatively short snow seasons.

How will snowshoe hare populations adapt climate change? Will they migrate north and to higher elevations, and will they be successful in these locations? For populations with a percentage of year-round brown individuals, will natural selection favoring “brown-ness” work rapidly enough to counter-act the effects of climate change? All good questions.

Peter and the newspaper small
Photo by Mary Morgan

Our November Reading List

We thought you might be interested in seeing what we’ve been reading. Editor’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: Wall Street Spending Millions to Buy Up Washington State Water: Once again the Methow Valley is at the forefront of a major environmental issue facing the west. Crown Columbia Water Resources, a private investment firm based out of Spokane, is buying up irrigation water rights on tributaries to the Columbia River in hopes of selling them to more profitable farmers on the main stem of the Columbia. This type of consolidation removes water available for use in places like the Methow and prices out smaller local agriculturalists that are the backbone of North Central Washington communities. Here at the Methow Conservancy we will continue to work to keep water rights in the Methow Valley. This is why we do things like require that water rights are permanently secured to the land on all of our agricultural conservation easements.

Crosscut: The 'Greatest Bird Guide Ever’ on Race, Survival, and Birding While Black: Many white birdwatchers have never considered that birdwatching with brown or black skin can be a dangerous practice. Spending time at dawn or dusk in rural settings with binoculars can attract undeserved attention. My older brother worked with a professor of wildlife biology who moved from Illinois to Montana and lost an African American graduate student in the transition because they didn’t feel they would be able to birdwatch safely in Montana. Drew Lanham has had these experiences as a professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, lifelong birdwatcher, and an African American. He has written a new memoir called The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature about his own experiences navigating nature, science, and life in a white world.

Outside Online: A New Plan to Make Camping in National Parks Worse: The Interior Department has outlined a plan to turn over the publicly run campgrounds in National Parks to private concessionaires. In addition, the plan has called for increasing development in campgrounds without environmental review, increasing camping fees, and bringing in amenities such as Wifi and food trucks. All of these proposals beg the question cui bono?

Crosscut: Could Columbia River Sturgeon Become a Source of High-end Caviar? The Yakama Nation is Counting on It: You may or may not know that beluga caviar is the roe from beluga sturgeon, a critically endangered species found mainly in the Caspian Sea that can run up to $10,000/kg on the open market. Due to its endangered status, beluga caviar has been banned in the US since 2005. The Yakama Nation has a plan to capitalize on this open niche in the US market and offer high end caviar from locally sourced Columbia River white sturgeon. Their aim is to have Columbia River caviar in stores by spring of 2020 and to generate enough revenue to fund their sturgeon, trout, and lamprey population restoration efforts.

High Country News: The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation: The Arrow Lakes Band are one of eleven tribes that inhabit the Colville region of the US and in the not so distant past British Columbia. In the 1950’s after the last known member of the Arrow Lakes Band in Canada died, the government declared the tribe officially extinct. Except that members of that tribe with ties to their ancestral home in Canada were still living in Washington State. So to get back their official status as a First Nation, the Arrow Lakes Band pulled off a strategic protest that has led to a high stakes court case that is now being decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

News from Other Organizations:

  • The Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman, MT is seeking a new Executive Director. For more information, visit this site.
  • AgForestry Leadership is seeking a Program Director. For more information visit this site.
  • The Methow Valley Citizen's Council invites you to a collaborative workshop to help build a community climate action plan on November 19th from 6 to 9 pm at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. Pizza, refreshments, and childcare provided. For more info visit this site.
  • The Methow Valley Dark Sky Coalition is hosting an Off-Grid Night, Sixknot-style on Thursday, November 14th, starting at 5pm at the Sixknot Taphouse in Winthrop. Enjoy a "lights-out" candlelit celebration of the beautiful stars in our dark night sky, complete with BBQ, cider, beer and wine in a romantic atmosphere. Open to the public. Brought to you by the Milky Way Social Club.

If you would like to share news from another organization, please email us by the 25th of the month.

  1. « Previous Post
  2. Next Post »

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!