The Methow Conservancy, in Washington State's Methow Valley
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January 2008 ENews

January Program:  Skiing the Cascade Crest : A 25 Year Journey Across Time & Terrain 
Friday, January 4th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Methow Valley Elementary School multi-purpose room. (Guests are welcome to come at 6:30 pm for light refreshments)photo by Lowell Skoog

Note that this program is on the first Friday of the month instead of the first Tuesday and is being held at the Elementary School! 

In 1982, Lowell Skoog began what would become a twenty-five year project to ski the Cascade Crest from the summit of Mount Baker to the summit of Mount Rainier. In 2000, Lowell launched a parallel effort to uncover and document the 100-year history of backcountry skiing in Washington. This presentation is a personal look at how these two journeys have become interwoven over time. The program includes a mix of modern and historical photographs as well as rare movie footage of Cascade skiing between the 1930s and 1950s. 

Lowell Skoog has been backcountry skiing and climbing in the Cascades since the 1970s. He is founder of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal and chairman of the Mountaineers History Committee in Seattle. His research into Northwest skiing history and the full story of his quest to ski the Cascade Crest can be found on his website, The Alpenglow Gallery.

 Free and open to everyone. For more information contact Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org

2008 Conservation Course ~ The Dynamic Dance of Water: The Function, Ecology and Future of the Methow Watershed ~ Begins February 4th
The Methow Conservancy’s fourth annual “Methow Conservation Course” begins Monday February 4th.  This year’s course is entitled, “The Dynamic Dance of Water ~ the Function, Ecology and Future of the Methow Watershed.”  Lost River, photo by Mary Kiesau

Six local and regional experts on geology, water quality, the properties and movements of water in the Methow, ecology, watershed recovery, and water-use planning will teach interconnected classes and facilitate discussions.  This year’s instructors are Eric Bard, a geology teacher and the Methow Conservancy Stewardship Associate; Chris Konrad, a hydrologist with the USGS; Dr. Dan Peplow, an affiliate professor for the College of Forest Resources at the UW; Andreas Kammereck, a water resource engineer; Jennifer Molesworth, a fisheries biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation; and Katharine Bill, a local conservationist and the former Executive Director of the Methow Conservancy.  A riparian habitat field-trip later in the spring is also included in the class with instructors Jennifer Molesworth and Susan Prichard.  The full syllabus and registration form are available here, or at the Methow Conservancy office in Winthrop.

Eric Bard, the Methow Conservancy Stewardship Associate, is coordinating the course content this year and will facilitate class discussions and connectivity.  Eric has a BS in Geological Science and a Masters in Teaching. He has worked throughout the Northwest and Alaska, both in the field and in the classroom, teaching science to all ages.

The course runs for six weeks from February 4th to March 10th with one class per week on Mondays from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub.  The week of the President’s Day holiday, class will meet on Tuesday Feb. 19th instead of Monday the 18th.  Tuition is $125 for Methow Conservancy members. The tuition for non-members is $150 and includes a discounted membership.  Scholarships are available to those who need financial assistance.  Previous course students and new participants alike should find something new and interesting in this course!Side channel on a conservation easement on the Methow River, photo by Steve Bondi

We will also offer two separate “mini-courses” in the spring for the second year in a row.  These are field-oriented, one-day weekend courses with expert instructors.  Our first mini-course will be “Beavers: Nature’s water engineers.”  Instructors John Rohrer and Steve Bondi will teach participants about beaver ecology and show us the sites of past, present, and potential beaver habitat and activity.  The second mini-course will be on waterfowl and riparian bird species.  Instructors Libby Mills and Kent Woodruff will teach students to identify species and habitats as we travel to wetlands, riparian forests, and shoreline areas.  Learn about, and hopefully see and hear, unique bird species that depend on our rich functioning.  These mini-courses are not scheduled yet.  Stay tuned to our monthly E-News for the latest updates about these and other classes.  If you do not get our E-News sent to you monthly, you can sign-up for this service at the bottom of the page.
The Methow Conservancy initiated the Methow Conservation Course in 2005 to take a Methow-specific look at natural history and translate that knowledge into both local and universal conservation-based themes.  Now in its fourth year, the Methow Conservation Course is designed for both the novice and the experienced naturalist (and for everyone in between).  The course is offered with the goal of inspiring more observation and knowledge of, interest in and connections with the natural world.

Contact Mary at info@methowconservancy.org or 509-996-2870 if you have questions.

Diverse 72-acre Cub Creek area property protected
Before we left for a little holiday break, we finalized a 72-acre conservation easement with Suzanne Edison and John Mellana.  The Mellana/Edison easement property has intact and diverse native habitats in the Cub Creek drainage.  Arid southern exposure allows for open meadow and shrub-steppeEdison & Mellana property, photo by Eric Bard habitat; wetlands and an intermittent spring, along with two ephemeral streams create riparian habitat; and lower slopes provide for growth of coniferous and deciduous forests.  These shrub-lands, forests, stream courses, grassy meadows, and rocky uplands create a mosaic of cover types and provide important forage, security cover and movement corridors for a wide variety of wildlife, including mule deer, cougar and bear.  The area also provides excellent songbird, reptile, and raptor habitat.  The open space and natural qualities of the property contribute to the rural feel of the Cub Creek drainage and the lower Chewuch River valley that are treasured and respected by residents and visitors.

The easement property was originally part of the Colville Confederated Tribal Reservation.  The land was open to homesteading in the 1890’s and became part of a 160-acre homestead.  Now, the Mellana/Edison easement property serves as a critical link between the public land managed by the US Forest Service to the west, south and northeast, and the Cub Creek riparian lowlands to the south.  The property is also classified as Open Space by Okanogan County. 

Suzanne Edison and John Mellana donated the conservation easement on this magnificent piece of land, and we thank them for helping us end the year with another conservation success, and for their generosity and conservation vision!


"The Art of Wildlife Tracking" Field Workshopswinter tracking class, photo by Mary Kiesau
January 20, February 10, and March 9 (chose one, or more if you’d like)

Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with professional wildlife tracker, Gabe Spence, on one or more of these three dates.  We'll learn the six arts of tracking wildlife, including how to identify and interpret tracks and signs. Join us and find ways to learn more about and connect with the hidden lives of the creatures that share this land with us!  This unique outdoor class costs just $30.  The field workshop is from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Registration is necessary and space is limited to 10 individuals per workshop.  Please call or email Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org to reserve your spot. 

See our events page for more details.

The Stewardship Chronicles: The Aquatic Songbird of Winter
Eric Bard, our Stewardship Associate working with Steve Bondi in the newly remodeled lower-level of our office, recently wrote this article for you E-News readers.

Our new spacious office “habitat” is impressive, but the best part about our move is our closer proximity to the Methow River, which we can now clearly hear as well as see.  Winter has brought a host of new visitors to the river and shoreline, including migrating eagles, spawning salmon, and our most conspicuous and friendly guest, the American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus).

The American Dipper is a passerine and could be described as an aquatic songbird.  In fact, DNA tells us that they are closely related to thrushes.  The high pitched songs of the dipper can be heard all year, but they are most prevalent as colder temperatures bring more of these water-loving birds to visit the stream shores at lower elevations.  Migrants come from higher elevations to over-winter with residents in the lower valley before heading to higher breeding territories in spring.  The dipper has evolved to develop calls that differ distinctly in frequency from the stream noise pervading their habitat, and now is the time when their distinct high pitched whistles and trills seem to carry joyful song into and right through our stewardship walls. 

As humans, we are very slow to adapt to changing environments and weather when compared to our local dippers.  Strict carnivores, these birds are known to dive and even walk under water to eat their mainstay of aquatic insects.  Unique adaptations also allow dippers to maintain their normal body temperatures when it is well below zero outside.  How do they do it?  By an almost flawless adaptation to cold stream environments where they live, nest, breed and sing.  Unique flaps protect their nostrils and an inner third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, closes to protect their eyes.  The dippers have preening down to a science.  In fact, the extensive preening of the dipper creates oils which help to waterproof their feathers.  Strong feet and claws and short wings also allow for navigation on the stream bottom where they feed on small fish and fish eggs.

With their beautiful songs, Dippers bring contentment but they also remind us that the Methow Watershed hold clean, well oxygenated water with low turbidity and thus supports an abundance of aquatic insects.  We will do our part to maintain these qualities, for without these, there would be no dipper song to welcome the winter, and the stewardship basement office would be a lonely prospect indeed.

American Dipper on the Methow River at our office, photo by Mary Kiesau

Events
Below, you'll find announcements about events or publications (ours and those of other organizations) that we think you might find interesting.

  • December 29th – March 1st, Saturdays: Nature of Winter Snowshoe Tours. The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association and the Methow Valley Ranger District hold snowshoe tours throughout the winter. Go with a local naturalist and learn about winter ecology, wildlife and tracks, snow and more. Tours leave from Jack's Hut at the Freestone Inn and from the Sun Mountain Lodge ski shop at 11:00 a.m. each Saturday between December 29th and March 1st.  On the Martin Luther King, Jr. and President's Day holiday weekends, tours will be scheduled at 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Visit MVSTA’s webpage for more info.

  • January 4th:  Methow Conservancy monthly program (on a Friday!):  Skiing the Cascade Crest : A Twenty-five Year Journey Across Time and Terrain, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Methow Valley Elementary School multi-purpose room. (Guests are welcome to come at 6:30 pm for light refreshments).  In 1982, Lowell Skoog began what would become a twenty-five year project to ski the Cascade Crest from the summit of Mount Baker to the summit of Mount Rainier. In 2000, Lowell launched a parallel effort to uncover and document the 100-year history of backcountry skiing in Washington. This presentation is a personal look at how these two journeys have become interwoven over time. The program includes a mix of modern and historical photographs as well as rare movie footage of Cascade skiing between the 1930s and 1950s.

  • January 20th: "The Art of Wildlife Tracking" Field Workshop, 9:00 - 3:00. Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with professional wildlife tracker, Gabe Spence. We'll learn the six arts of tracking wildlife, including how to identify and interpret tracks and signs. Mind of the Raven is our January Book Club choiceJoin us and find ways to learn more about and connect with the hidden lives of the creatures that share this land with us! This unique outdoor class costs just $30. Registration is necessary and space is limited to 10 individuals. Please call or email Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org to reserve your spot. See our events page for more details.

  • January 23rd: Natural History Book Club Discussion of Mind of the Raven, by Bernd Heinrich, 6:00-7:15 at the Methow Conservancy office.  For more information and upcoming books see our Book Club page.

  • February 5th:Methow Conservancy “1st Tuesday” program:  “Status of Lynx in Washington” with wildlife scientist, Gary Koehler.  Gary Koehler with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will share photos and information about the lynx surveys and studies being conducted right now.  For 30 years, Okanogan and Chelan counties have been the only counties in Washington where lynx tracks have been found and where breeding has been documented.  Yet, wild fires in the past decade have burned more than 50% of the lynx habitat in these two counties, prompting an effort to study them and assess their status.  Come hear about lynx that were followed with GPS collars last winter and learn what scientists hope to do this winter.

  • February 10th: "The Art of Wildlife Tracking" Field Workshop, 9:00 - 3:00. Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with professional wildlife tracker, Gabe Spence. We'll learn the six arts of tracking wildlife, including how to identify and interpret tracks and signs. Join us and find ways to learn more about and connect with the hidden lives of the creatures that share this land with us! This unique outdoor class costs just $30. Registration is necessary and space is limited to 10 individuals. Please call or email Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org to reserve your spot. See our events page for more details.

  • March 4th: Methow Conservancy “1st Tuesday” program: Lamprey ~ The Ancient Fish of the Columbia  7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub (The pub will open at 6pm for attendees who would like to purchase drinks or something from the light menu).
    John Crandall, local resident and Wild Fish Conservancy freshwater ecologist, will discuss the heritage, natural history, and conservation of Columbia Basin lamprey.  Lamprey are an ancient group of fish that are native to the waters of the Pacific Northwest.  At least one species, the parasitic Pacific lamprey, occurs in the Methow River. Although they are fish, lamprey lack bones, paired fins and jaws. Like salmon, lamprey journey from natal freshwater habitats to the ocean and back.  Come learn more about this unique and imperiled fish of the Columbia and what is being done to restore and protect their habitat. 

  • March 9th: "The Art of Wildlife Tracking" Field Workshop, 9:00 - 3:00. Explore the winter landscape of the Methow Valley with professional wildlife tracker, Gabe Spence. We'll learn the six arts of tracking wildlife, including how to identify and interpret tracks and signs. Join us and find ways to learn more about and connect with the hidden lives of the creatures that share this land with us! This unique outdoor class costs just $30. Registration is necessary and space is limited to 10 individuals. Please call or email Mary at 996-2870 or info@methowconservancy.org to reserve your spot. See our events page for more details.

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