Sunny M Ranch

Welcome to Sunny M Ranch: These 1200 acres of land near the Town of Winthrop hold so many possibilities. They are home to some of the Methow Valley’s most abundant wildlife. The nearly 400 acres of agricultural fields are actively farmed and 10 miles of trails are vital to the local economy. There is also space for a small neighborhood near town that will be affordable for people who work here.

Many mountain communities never get a chance to determine what the landscape near town looks like and how it reflects community values. Thanks to community support for the Campaign for Sunny M Ranch, we do. Click HERE to appreciate the 1500 donors who made this campaign a success.

At the end of December 2022, the Methow Conservancy launched the Imagine the Methow: the Campaign for Sunny M Ranch, with the intention of preserving 1200 acres of land near the Town of Winthrop, in the heart of the Methow Valley. On June 15, 2023, we celebrated the community's success! With the incredible generosity of people who love the Methow Valley, the Methow Conservancy raised more than $8.7M to purchase the Sunny M Ranch and to seed a Stewardship & Maintenance Fund to ensure we can be responsible long-term stewards of the land. As we transition from campaign to land ownership and management, we plan to continue to engage the community in our efforts on Sunny M. Read on to learn more about the Sunny M Ranch, past, present, and future.

Contact us about Sunny M: sunnym@methowconservancy.org

Click HERE for a map of the Sunny M Ranch.

What's happening on the Sunny M Ranch?

Click headings below to learn about project updates in our four management goal areas.

Participate in a Sunny M work party or attend a Sunny M event.

Photo by Scott Fitkin

Wildlife Habitat

Photo by Jason Paulsen

Trails

Photo by Benj Drummond

Farming

Photo by Benj Drummond

Affordable Housing

Birds eye view of Sunny M Ranch and Winthrop Benj Drummond

One Project, Four Core Values

Nearly all of the 1200 acres of the Sunny M Ranch will be held as Conservation & Community lands. The Methow Conservancy Board recently passed a Resolution designating these lands as such when we made the purchase. The Board Resolution outlined our standards for ethical practices by identifying the primary management goals for the Sunny M Ranch lands and the process that must be followed in the event a change in use or management is contemplated.

  • Protect vital wildlife habitat: The area known as Powers Plunge provides important wildlife habitat. It is also an area that would have been in hot demand for high-end development.
  • Preserve significant farmland: The fields along Wolf Creek and Patterson Lake are productive irrigated farmland and iconic reminders of agriculture’s role in this Valley.
  • Provide housing that is affordable for people who work in the Methow Valley. The property includes land close to the Town of Winthrop that will be ideal for a small neighborhood.
  • Make access to trail systems permanent: The Community Trail, the Winthrop Trail, and the Barnsley-Bitterbrush loops are essential components of our recreation-based economy.
Sunny M Ranch buildings by Stephen Mitchell
Photo by Steve Mitchell

Stewardship & Maintenance Fund

Two families who owned the Sunny M Ranch recognize the importance of caring for the land and historic buildings through restoration, maintenance, weed mitigation, forest management, and other efforts. They are making it possible for the Methow Conservancy to care for the property and infrastructure by helping us establish a robust Stewardship & Maintenance Fund.

Helga Haub, who, with her husband Erivan, purchased and cared for the property from the late 1980s through 2022, seeded the Fund with $500K.

The Lucky Seven Foundation, started by Frances and Manson Backus, who owned the Sunny M Ranch in the 1940s, matched $250K in new donations to the Campaign for Sunny M Ranch through a challenge grant. The donations coupled with the match totaled $500K.

Gifts like these reinforce how important the Sunny M Ranch is to the Methow Valley community.

Donate now

4th grade example

Thank You!

We affectionately referred to the Campaign for Sunny M Ranch as our feral campaign, and what a wild ride it was, full of so many joyous moments, gifts, and conversations. We loved hearing your stories of what this land means to you, of learning to ski on the trails, of working on the Sunny M as a ranch hand back in the day, and of spotting those tiger salamanders or cougars (!) who also call the land home. We knew this Valley was loved, but we were humbled by the depth and breadth of that appreciation. Thank you!

From million-dollar donors to single dollar bills from 4th graders, so many of you showed up. We’re thrilled to report that more than half a million dollars came from gifts under $5K (with an average of $400). That’s a phenomenal statement on how much this community values having a say in its future.

Without you, the Campaign for Sunny M could not have succeeded. With you, the campaign was a strong vote for the future of the Methow Valley.

Click HERE to see who made the Sunny M Ranch project possible.

Shafer Museum Sunny M Collection 2004002003
Photo courtesy of Shafer Museum
806 MC2135
Photo by Benj Drummond
Winter aerial looking northwest Benj Drummond 1920pixels
Photo by Benj Drummond
Eliot and Tina Scull 2017
Photo courtesy of Eliot Scull

Campaign Video

Have you seen our campaign video? We hope you'll take 6 minutes to watch it. Through the lens of wildlife habitat, farming, trails, and affordable housing, the video tells the story of the opportunity for preserving 1200 acres of possibilities near Winthrop for the Methow Valley community.

Since Time Immemorial

13,000 years ago the last of the Missoula floods swept across Eastern Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge. Glaciologists estimate that the glaciers in the Methow Valley were up to a mile deep. The First People of the Methow Valley have stories about the great flood and its impacts.

For hundreds of generations, the Methow Valley has been the home of the Methow People. When the first white settlers arrived in the Methow Valley in the late 1800s, most of the Methow People (mətx̌ʷu) were forcibly relocated from the Moses-Columbia Reservation, formed in 1879. In 1884, the Moses-Columbia Reservation was dissolved and most of the Methow People were moved to the area east and south of present-day Omak, becoming one of the twelve tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Others in this diaspora refused to enter the reservations and simply stayed or dispersed in the region. Even today, many Methow Tribal families maintain a consistent presence in this valley. We are grateful for the Methow People’s (mətx̌ʷu) careful stewarding of this land and hope to learn from their example.

Learn more about the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Methow People here.

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