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

1st Tuesday Program:  Lamprey ~ The Ancient Fish of the Columbia 
March 4th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub (The pub will open at 6:00 p.m. 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 the oldest living vertebrates on Earth and several species 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.

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

Okanogan County & Methow Conservancy Partner to Protect Farmland
Readers of the Methow Valley News may have seen the recent article outlining the collaborative effort between the Methow Conservancy and Okanogan County that resulted in the protection of a historic 110-acre farm on the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside County Rd.  For those who missed the article, read on…

The first farmland conservation project to come from a cooperative partnership between Okanogan County and the Methow Conservancy has been completed, preserving Lehman Farm, photo by Katharine Bill110 acres of highly productive agricultural land owned and farmed by Charles and Youngme Lehman within the Winthrop to Twisp farmland corridor.

This project was made possible by a new State Farmland Preservation fund as part of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).  Okanogan County was the first County in Eastern Washington to successfully secure funding through this fund, and this project is the first completed farmland preservation project in Washington under this new state program.  As part of the partnership between Okanogan County and the Methow Conservancy, the Methow Conservancy worked to obtain matching funding through the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program and a grant from the Peach Foundation.

“This project is a good example of how we can work together to preserve productive farmland and in doing so retain the rural character and agricultural economy of Okanogan County” stated Okanogan County Commissioner Bud Hover, who has supported the partnership since its inception. 
The farm was protected with a permanent conservation easement that is jointly held by Okanogan County and the Methow Conservancy.  A conservation easement is a written legal agreement between a willing landowner and a public entity or land trust that permanently Lehman Farm, photo by Katharine Billprotects specific conservation values such as wildlife habitat, working farms and ranches, scenic views and open space, riverfront and more.  Conservation easements typically reduce or eliminate future development in order to protect these conservation values.  With all conservation easements, the landowners retain ownership of their land.

The Methow Conservancy has partnered with landowners to conserve over 2,200 acres of farm and ranch land in the Methow Valley since 1996.  The Conservancy currently works with over 80 landowners to steward a total of 5,375 acres contained within 64 conservation easements.

Okanogan County and the Methow Conservancy are currently working to identify future farmland protection projects in the Methow Valley.  Both entities hope to encourage local farmers to continue farming and selling products locally and regionally, to protect farmable soils, wildlife corridors and riparian zones, and to maintain the rural character of the Methow Valley while providing landowners an alternative to subdivision and development.

6th Annual Susie Stephens Memorial Bike Ride
Friday, March 21st, 11:00 am
Join us for a fun bike ride to celebrate the inspiring life of our friend Susie Stephens. We'll meet at the Winthrop Park at 11:00 a.m., break up into a couple different groups depending on ability and time, and head out for a ride. We'll meet back in the park after the ride for lunch.

Susie was the Development Director at the Conservancy from 2000 - 2002. In March 2002 she was tragically hit and killed by a bus in St Louis. Susie was an avid cyclist, and a passionate advocate of bicycles for transportation, travel and recreation, as well as for bicycle and pedestrian safety.  We honor her and her work every year with this ride and invite others to join us.  

After years of planning, a 1.5-mile Susie Stephens Memorial Trail is being designed to provide pedestrians and cyclists a safer, more scenic route through town and to provide an important year-round link between MVSTA’s trails and the town.

As currently proposed, the Susie Stephens Trail would begin just south of the Methow Conservancy office and cross the Methow River via a 400-foot cable stayed bridge.  The trail would connect to MVSTA’s “town trailhead” then continue south, traveling along a route west of Highway 20 to just south of the post office building. The trail will be about 12 feet wide, with a crushed gravel surface that is wheelchair accessible.

Please join us for Susie’s fun and informal annual memorial on March 21st!  Bring your own bike and helmet and a sack lunch.  RSVPs are not necessary but feel free to call us at 996-2870 if you’d like.
2007 riders

2nd Annual Board of Directors Online Auction
We are so proud of the many talents of our Board members, past and present, and our Advisory Council, that we want to share them with you!  What could be more fun than enjoying a heli-ski trip or a catered meal in your home while simultaneously supporting the Methow Conservancy’s conservation work?  Bid on these fantastic auction items and help us preserve the amazing Methow Valley.  You could win:

  • A guided heli-ski trip for three down Goat Peak or a helicopter flight-seeing trip for three with Paul Butler
  • A solar site assessment and solar electric Photo by Merle Kirkleysystemdesign by Ellen Lamiman
  • A four-course dinner for four, brought to your house, ready to serve, on two separate occasions from Char Alkire
  • A bagel and mozzarella cheese making lesson with Larry Lund
  • Two hour skate ski or classic XC ski lesson with Midge Cross
  • A series of four beekeeping lessons with Dave Sabold
  • A half-day fly-fishing float trip with Kevin van Bueren
  • A sauna and gourmet dinner by Mac Shelton and Frauke Rynd
  • An hour of personal training at Allstar Fitness in West Seattle with Mark Wolf-Armstrong

The auction will run through the Bulletin Board from March 10 to March 14.  Start thinking about your bids, and stay tuned for a reminder email from us with simple instructions for participating.  For more details on each of these offers, visit our Board Auction webpage.  The auction is the perfect chance to enjoy some great Methow activities and help preserve our rural Methow landscapes. 

New Members on Board
Speaking of Board members and the generous time and talents that they give, we are pleased to introduce the newest members of our Board of Directors.  Please join us in welcoming them!

Beth & John Sinclair met on a NOAA research vessel in the Bering Sea in 1978, shortly after both had graduated from the University of Michigan.  In the 25 years prior to moving to the John & Beth Sinclairvalley, Beth received a graduate degree in Oceanography from Oregon State University and continues to work for NOAA as a research biologist focusing on the conservation of North Pacific marine mammals.  John received his law degree from the University of Washington while working as a commercial fisherman, and practiced as a maritime attorney for 11 years.  Since 2001, they have worked to bring their Carlton farm into commercial organic apple production.  Regarding their move from Seattle and joining the Conservancy Board, they say “the precious beauty of this valley is fully matched by the community of people that call it home – we can’t imagine a better place to raise our kids and we are honored to have the opportunity to help secure these special qualities for future generations.”

Roy Farrell, is a retired emergency physician who first began visiting the valley in 1975 to ski and climb.  He bought property up the Twisp River, and in 1980, he and his wife, Leigh, and his newborn Jason Paulsen & Roy Farrellson spent a month living in the home of Bill and Ann Henry.  Roy covered Bill’s medical practice in Twisp for a month, giving Doc Henry the longest vacation he’d ever had at that point.  In 1980, Roy and Leigh bought property in Mazama and gradually built a home.  Roy has been active on several boards, including serving as President of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), both nationally and in Washington state, and President of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  Roy retired from his position as Medical Director of Group Health Hospitals last year, and now he and Leigh spend most of the year in the Methow.  In 2006, they donated a conservation easement to the Methow Conservancy on their 26 acres in Mazama.  Roy says, “We were very impressed with the professionalism and competence of the Methow Conservancy in helping us preserve our piece of paradise and steward it into the future.  The next few years are critical to preserving the rural and wildlife values of our beautiful valley.  The Conservancy is in a unique position to help individual landowners who wish to do that, and to bring the community together in educational forums and community discussions to preserve the quality of life that brought all of us here in the first place.”

Spring Naturalists’ Retreat
The Methow Naturalists’ Retreat is a long-standing, annual celebration Camoflaged butterfly, photo by Steve Bondiof the Methow Valley in springtime.  It was initiated by the North Cascades Institute 15 years ago.  This year, the Methow Conservancy is thrilled to begin sponsoring this fantastic educational field class.  Arrowleaf balsamroot and many other spring flowers will be at their prime in early May, and the neo-tropical migrant birds will be pouring into the valley after their long journey from South and Central America.  With the friendly and expert guidance of ornithologist Libby Mills and botanist Dana Visalli, you will not only encounter more birds, flowers and other aspects of nature than you would have thought possible; you will also gain insights into the secret lives of many different forms of wildlife.  In the evenings, share meals and presentations on the Methow’s natural history as well as the life and times of Methow birds.  Free tent camping available at Dana’s or make your own lodging arrangements.  Food is not provided; one dinner is a shared potluck and one is at the Twisp River Pub.  The retreat starts at 5pm on May 8th, runs through May 11th, and costs $125 per person.

For more details or to register, please contact Mary at 996-2870 or

An Update from “The Dynamic Dance of Water” Plus Mini-Courses
Since our last E-News, our 4th annual Conservation Course has had four information-packed classes.  Eric Bard started the course off with the history of water evolution and some Methow-specific geology and hydrology basics to provide us with a foundation for the rest of the class.  The class liked this poem so much we thought we’d share it with you! 

Water Evolution Poem by Eric BardColumbia spotted frog, photo by Mary Kiesau
With a big bang, Hydrogen was born
Then fusion in stars and oxygen forms
Oxygen spreads by death of stars
Supernova explosions send O wide and far
H and O meet, forming strong unique bonds
Bringing us H2O of which we are so fond
Water in space within some objects we know
With perfect conditions to liquid it may grow
Comets and volcanoes brought oceans so blue
And the hydrologic cycle brings this water to you
H2O drank by trex and triceratops
Could be in irrigation that waters your crops
Methow Valley water so sweet and pumped from our ground
First came with the ice that glaciers brought down
Aquifers down in glacial sediments flow
Recharged each year in thanks to our snow
From floods to water budgets and channel migrations
Our 7 instructors will give presentations
We will do our best to give truth and not fable
Of the hydrology above and below our water table
Our water quality and sometimes fishy lessons
Will hopefully inspire your water and development questions
Come golf, condos, mines, and climate change
Our plans and water uses might be rearranged
So please take it all in and enjoy the wet show
And uncover the secrets of waters below…

The second class featured, Chris Konrad, a hydrologist with the U.S.Geological Survey who has done extensive research in the Methow.  Chris dove quickly into water budgets, stream flow, gaining and losing reaches of the Methow River, aquifers and ground water, factors affecting water availability, and much more.  In our third class, Dan Peplow, an affiliate professor for the College of Forest Resources at the UW, gave a fascinating presentation from his research on water and soil contamination from the abandoned Alder Creek cooper mine and the Red Shirt Mill in the Twisp area. This past Monday, Andreas Kammereck, a water resource engineer with in-depth knowledge of the Methow watershed, wowed students with details and images of how rivers move, making clear the difference between the regulatory 100-year floodplain and the channel migration zone.  Andreas also demonstrated how erosion and “lateral” channel migration consequences are the main hazard along the Methow River, not inundation by water (“vertical” floodplain overflow, aka flooding).  Next up is Jennifer Molesworth, a fisheries biologist; then Katharine Bill who will discuss local water use issues and watershed planning.

While the Conservation Course is limited to about 45 people, anyone can peruse the course materials and presentations.

And don’t forget about our great one-day “mini conservation courses” being held this spring.  Read more here.

Fence-Mending Workshop
Saturday March 29th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Are livestock encroaching into areas due to a broken down fence?  Are you interested in learning a new skill and possibly lending a hand to local ranchers and/or other landowners who are trying to manage livestock with land stewardship in mind?  Perhaps you are simply interested in learning the basics about fence law.  Mending fences with neighbors could be achieved literally and figuratively after taking this class!  With the help of local rancher and Methow Conservancy Conservator, Vic Stokes, learn how to repair wire fencing on March 29th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.  The workshop is free but only a few more spots are available.  For more information, please contact Eric Bard at or 509-996-2870.

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

  •   March 4th: “1st Tuesday” program: Lamprey ~ The Ancient Fish of the Columbia, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub.  John Crandall, local resident and Wild Fish Conservancy freshwater ecologist, will discuss the heritage, natural history, and conservation of Columbia Basin lamprey.

  •   March 9th: "The Art of Wildlife Tracking" Field Workshop, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  (Sorry, this class is full.)

  •   March 10th - 14th: Our Second Annual Online Board Member Auction.  For more details on each auction item and how to participate, visit our Board Auction webpage

  •   March 26th: Natural History Book Club Discussion of After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America by E.C. Pielou, 6:00 -7:15 p.m. at the Methow Conservancy office.  Visit our Book Club page for a list of what we have read.

  •   March 29th: Fence-Mending Workshop, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with local rancher, Vic Stokes.  See information above for details

  •   April 1st:  “1st Tuesday” Program: Dave Chantler presents “Madagascar – the 8th Continent” and the “Endangered Birds of Paradise,” 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Twisp River Pub.  In what is becoming an annual tradition, local world traveler and birding guru, Dave Chantler, will share amazing photos and interesting stories from a recent expedition.

  •   April 5th: Good Neighbor Workshop: Practical Advice for Building and Living in the MethowValley, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  This free workshop is a great place to gain helpful information about the Methow Valley especially if you are thinking about building or are currently building in the Methow. Attendees will meet neighbors, share questions and perhaps similar situations, and learn about specific building concerns and opportunities. There will be lots of time for questions, and refreshments and snacks!  Stay tuned for more details.

  •   April 12th: Beavers ~ Nature’s water engineers, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Instructors John Rohrer and Steve Bondi will teach participants about beaver ecology and as we travel to sites of past, present, and potential future beaver habitat and activity.  Learn how these ingenious mammals have altered and greatly affected and benefited our riparian areas and waterways.  Registration required.  Cost $30/person.

  •   May 3rd: “1st Tuesday” on the First Saturday with Professor Donald Snow, time and place TBA.  Mr. Snow will provide an intriguing examination of growth in the "new west" and discuss a concept he calls “rurbia.”  Please join us for this interesting and timely community discussion.

  • May 8 – 11th:  Spring Naturalists’ Retreat with instructors Libby Mills and Dana Visalli.  See information above for details
  •   May 18th: The Riparian Connection: Birds, Water and Avian Romance, 6:00 a.m. to Noon.  Instructors Libby Mills and Kent Woodruff will give students an introduction to the life history and important habitat relationships of riparian bird species.  We will travel to wetlands, riparian forests, and shoreline areas to learn about, and hopefully see and hear, unique bird species that depend on our rich functioning watershed.  Why is riparian habitat so important?  Find out as we take a good look at this special world.  Registration required.  Cost $40/person.

  •   June 3rd:  “1st Tuesday” Program - Annual Methow Conservancy and Methow Natives “Native Plant Workshop and Social” outdoors at Methow Natives.  Enjoy food, drinks and native plants with local botanists.  Get tips on what to plant where, how to restore your property, landscaping ideas and what deer won’t eat!  Free with donations accepted. Time TBA.

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