The Methow Conservancy, in Washington State's Methow Valley
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April 2011 ENews

1st Tuesday Program (on the Second Tuesday!): Afghanistan: Wildlife, Wildlands and Conservation
Tuesday, April 12th, 7:00 - 8:30pm at the Twisp River Pub
Just back from his second trip to Afghanistan, Dana Visalli will give a presentation on the wildlife and wildlands of Afghanistan, including the charismatic and endangered snow leopard and Asian tiger, and discuss the conservation efforts underway in that country as well as the challenges of conservation in a war zone.

The Twisp River Pub will open at 6pm and dinner and drinks will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to everyone. For more information, contact us at 996-2870 or


41 Acres on the Chewuch River Protected
Thanks to you, our Imagine the Methow Campaign, and the generous support and willingness of landowner Sarah Parrington, the Methow Conservancy just protected another important and strategic piece of the Methow Valley. 

The Parrington conservation easement, about 4.5 miles up the West Chewuch, is a unique mixture of Methow Valley land types.  Here, on 41 acres, intact agricultural land with good soil blends with high-quality shrub-steppe and lush riparian habitat along the Chewuch River.  It’s a special piece of the Chewuch, visible from the road and the river that packs a conservation punch!

The Methow River basin, and thus the Chewuch River basin, is the upper limit of wild, naturally-produced spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead in the mid-Columbia River since the creation of Grand Coulee Dam in 1939.  The numerous side channels and pools, and the intact nature of the Chewuch River watershed combine to create a productive drainage that has made the Chewuch River a conservation priority for several endangered fish species (spring chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout).

Protection of the riparian area, wetlands, beaver ponds, cottonwood forests and 1150 feet of river front on the Parrington conservation easement will support fish by providing critical elements like large woody debris, shade for cooler water temperatures, and groundwater recharge.  Additionally, gravel bars, river ripples, and backwater pools of the meandering Chewuch River provide important habitat for spawning and rearing juvenile salmonids.

Thank you to Sarah Parrington for her conservation vision, and to all of you for helping making land protection in the Methow Valley a reality!

Susie Stephens Memorial Bike Ride Rescheduled
Monday, April 25th, 11:30am
Due to still more snow falling from the sky on March 21st, our original event date, we’ve rescheduled the bike ride to a more spring-like April 25th.  Please join us for this annual casual bike ride to celebrate the inspiring life of Susie Stephens!  We'll meet at the Winthrop Park at 11:30 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.  On March 21, 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. 

Please join us for Susie’s fun and informal annual memorial on April 25th!  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. 

Kudos to Board Members, New and Retiring
Like most volunteer Boards, our Board Members are a hard-working and dedicated bunch of community members that are a critical part of our organization’s thoughtful work.  Board members often go unnoticed despite their years of service and lasting contributions.  We are here today to remedy that!  Please meet our newest Board members, Richard Hart & Craig Boesel, and help us say thank-you to retiring Board members, Steve Dixon and Vicky Welch who both just completed two 3-year terms of outstanding service.

Craig Boesel: Craig’s Dad’s side of the family homesteaded in the Methow Valley in the late 1880’s at the north end of what is now WDFW’s “Big Valley” along Highway 20 north of Winthrop.  Soon after that his Grandfather (Boesel) homesteaded at the mouth of Falls Creek up the Chewuch River where the open field is now a  WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife camping area.  His great grandfather on his mother’s side of the family, the Andersons, had a place in Lower Bear Creek in the early 1900’s that was used as a WSU research center.  This is where it was discovered that iodine was needed to supplement animal’s diets in this area of Washington (shortage of iodine was shown to cause certain anomalies in baby pigs etc.)  Many different legs of his family tree homesteaded in different areas of the valley.  One of those was his great great Grandmother who arrived in 1891, Martha Ann Bacus Filer, a widow with three children who homesteaded on the Bear Creek land that is part of Craig’s place today. 

In Craig’s youth, that part of the home place in Bear Creek was all apple orchards.  Craig attended the old brick Winthrop (Pirates) High School and graduated in Education and Physical Therapy from Washington State University.  He financed his college education by working for the United States Forest Service, and continued working for them, mostly as a smokejumper, for most of 16 years while putting a cattle ranch together.  In 1980, Craig became a full-time cattle rancher running cattle primarily on public lands in the mountains of the upper Beaver Creek area in the summers.  Craig feels fortunate that he was given the opportunity to raise four sons on a cattle ranch in the Methow.  Part of Craig’s ranch was the first conservation easement for the newly incorporated Methow Conservancy in 1998.  This same piece of land was the second place in eastern Washington that had sold their development rights by using an IAC Riparian Habitat Grant.  He placed a second conservation easement on more of the ranch in 2008.  Craig has served as a director on several boards in the valley, including the MV School Board, Okanogan County Electric Coop, Okanogan Conservation District, Fulton Ditch Company, Barkley Irrigation Company, Chewuch Canal Company, and the Methow Valley Education Foundation.    

Richard Hart: Richard Hart is a historian who provides expert testimony in cases involving Native American tribes and environmental issues.  He has testified on numerous occasions before the United States Claims Court, federal district courts, state courts, and United States congressional committees in both the House and Senate.  He was Executive Director of the Institute of the North American West and its predecessor, the Institute of the American West, from 1977 to 1996, and currently heads HWA, a private historical research company.  He is the author or editor of six books, has published more than fifty articles and essays, and has presented more than fifty professional papers.  He and his wife, composer Lynette Westendorf, first came to the valley in 1989 and moved here permanently in 2000. 

Steve Dixon and Vicky Welch, both long-term Methow Valley community members, just finished six years of Methow Conservancy Board service.  Our By-Laws limit board members to two three-year terms and then they must take at least a one year break.   This six-year term was Vicky’s second in our 15 year history.  Now that’s commitment!  Our existing Board wrote Haiku poems for Steve and Vicky’s “retirement.”  Here are a few we thought you’d like:

For Vicky Welch:

Vicky tends to Earth
Comp plans, compost, compassion
Keeper of the place
-- Gordy Reynaud

For Steve Dixon:

Longbeard wiseman came
guiding thru the mind-maze
creatures still have space
-- Jane Gilbertsen

Vigil valley friend
May you rest some, recover,
You have given much.
-- Paul Butler

Methow Valley, home.
Healthy streams, air, land, critters.
And may it be so.
-- Mary McCrea

Methow sings me home
to life in startled beauty
love of place so rare
-- Beth Sinclair

Carpe Diem Stevum
Onward old man life
Toward rising waterfall
Drink deep sweet nectar
-- Vic Stokes

Happy New Fiscal Year!
Though we are still awaiting the official “closing” of our fiscal year books, we are excited to report that it looks like we met our fiscal year fundraising goals!  We run on a calendar that starts April 1st and goes through March 31st, so Happy New Year!  We sure appreciate all of you who renewed your membership this past year and we are proud to welcome all of you who chose to become new members.  Your membership supports our Annual Operating Fund – the engine that fuels all of our conservation, stewardship, and education work.  Thank you for your continued support – your donations make a real difference on the ground in the Methow Valley!

Partnering for Open Space
In addition to the hundreds of people who support the MethowConservancy, we are honored to have dozens of local and regional businesses as members who support our efforts to protect open space, wildlife habitat, farms and ranchland, and scenic areas.  Our Business Partners for Open Space program began in 2003 and since that time hundreds of businesses have contributed thousands of dollars, goods and services to help us fulfill our mission.

We will periodically feature business members in E-News via a short Q & A.  This month, we are featuring Morning Glory Balloon Tours.

Who are you, what do you do, how long have you been around?
Morning Glory Balloon Tours has offered hot air balloon flights over the Methow Valley since 1997.  We (Kurt and Melinda Oakley) provide people with the "peaceful thrill" of lighter than air flight.  Ballooning over the Methow Valley offers spectacular panoramas of the Cascades and a unique view of the valley below. We like to think we're more than just a balloon ride. Our guests are able to participate in setting up the balloon if they wish and we always celebrate each flight with a post flight picnic, including home baked goodies!

How did Morning Glory Balloon Tours come to be? 
We began ballooning in the Colorado Rockies in 1990, where we received our FAA certification (yes, you need a pilot's license to fly a balloon!). As the area we were living in and flying in became more congested, we decided to seek out "greener, wider pastures". Melinda had worked for the Winthrop Ranger District in the early '80's and suggested we give this area a look. Long story short; we saw it, loved it, did some homework, bought our house, and started Morning Glory Balloon Tours.

Morning Glory Balloon Tours has been a "business member" for many years.  Why do you give?
We feel an obligation to give to the Conservancy for a number of reasons. The obvious ones for a balloon are open space and views! But we actually consider ourselves giving back. The community is gracious enough to let us drift over their property and occasionally "drop in". We appreciate that and are happy to support the Methow Conservancy in caring for our neighborhood.

What is your business philosophy?
Our business philosophy is simple: Have Fun! Ballooning, like many other activities in the Methow, does require flexibility. Rain? Wind? We'll try tomorrow. Fortunately that's the exception not the rule. One of the most enjoyable parts of what we do is that it's always different. We have different seasons, different winds, and we meet different people from all over.

Complete the phrase that follows with your wish for the Methow Valley:  I imagine a Methow Valley where…
...The winds are always calm, the skies are always clear, and the landing sites are always accessible! Seriously?  We imagine a Methow Valley where everyone appreciates what we have and works to maintain it.

What's one of the craziest things that has happened during one of your rides?
During a flight several years ago, at about 2000' off the ground, a young man got down on his knee, pulled out a ring and asked the young lady he was with (in front of everyone) if she would marry him. The young lady was absolutely silent for about 30 seconds (which felt like 30 minutes). Finally the young man cleared his throat and said, "Well?". The young lady replied, "You made me wait three years, I thought I'd make you wait a little longer. Yes." As far as I know they're happily married balloonatics!

In Memory of Conservator, Beverly McCall
Our friend and conservator, Beverly (Bev) McCall, also known by many as Bev LaVeck, died recently.  Bev had lived here for many years, actively participating in community and church, race-walking throughout the world, and care-taking her “Cedarosa” property in the Lost River area of Mazama, which she protected with a conservation easement in 2005.  Many people, here in the Valley and around the country, are mourning the loss of Bev, and our thoughts are with them.  May Bev’s energetic spirit and zest for life live on through everyone she touched.

Printed with permission from the Methow Valley News, here is Bev’s obituary:

Beverly Aleta McCall, 74, a longtime resident of Mazama and Seattle, rests in Christ due to a tragic automobile accident on Feb. 22, 2011, near Leavenworth. Bev was born on April 22, 1936, to Norman and Betty (Dudley) Beers at Seattle, where she graduated from West Seattle High School. She received a bachelor’s in psychology from Mills College in Oakland, Calif., continuing on to receive her master’s and doctorate in psychology from the University of Washington. She was employed as a school psychologist by the Edmonds School District and later as a professor of psychology at the University of Washington with the former CDMRC. She was known for her extensive research into child development concerns.

In the 1970s, Bev got caught up in the running boom. Injuries guided her into race walking, where she excelled in ultra-distance competitions with the Pacific Pacers race-walking group. Recently, Bev still held 15 master’s race-walking records, national and international, for distances from 3K to 50K. In 1996, she was inducted into the USA Master’s Track and Field Hall of Fame. Bev enjoyed teaching others how to race walk and promoting a healthy lifestyle. She enjoyed the friendships she made through race walking.

On April 5, 2006, Beverly married Mac McCall at Reno, Nev., and the couple spent their time between Mazama and Seattle. Bev was a talented musician, and played piano and mandolin for different groups in Seattle and the Methow Valley. She was the pianist for the Mazama Community Church, where she was an active member.

Bev is survived by her husband, Mac McCall, of Mazama; daughters from her first marriage, Amy Vander Veer of Seattle and Jillian Garza of Selah; daughters from her second marriage, Julie LaVeck of Saratoga, Calif., and Moira LaVeck of Montgomery Village, Md.; and 11 grandchildren: Santos, Marisol, Melanie, Willem, Oliver, Megan, Matt, Jessica, Gabe, Eli, and Jacob. She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband, Bob Vander Veer, of Hawaii; and her second husband, Dr. Gerald D. LaVeck of Seattle.

A memorial service of commemoration to celebrate the life of Beverly Aleta McCall will be held on Saturday, March 19, at 2 p.m. at the Mazama Community Church. Memorial services in Seattle will be announced later.

Bev McCall on a Conservation
Easement monitoring visit, 2006

My Day at the Science Fair
By Heide Andersen, Stewardship Director
" I participated as a project reviewer in the 2011 Science Fair for the 3rd through 6th grade Methow Valley elementary students in the Eagle gymnasium.  It was exciting to see the emerging researchers in our valley inspired by their own personal experiences as young gardeners, earth scientists, engineers and cosmetologists.  Several had obviously taken the time to think through the scientific inquiry process with thoughtful hypotheses, methodology, and conclusions.  Others put their efforts into doing more of a scientific literature review.  I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with the young scientists in person and interview them about their subject matter and thought processes.  I am hoping that I can soon put some of them on my list as volunteer citizen scientists for Methow Valley Stewardship projects!”

News from other organizations
The Washington Native Plant Society is having their annual Study Weekend in the Methow Valley June 10th – 12th. The local Okanogan Chapter is hosting this state-wide event which includes lectures and field trips.  The valley's best plant experts and many excellent botanical authorities from around the state will convene to lead field trips here in the Methow Valley and beyond. 

Spring wildflowers by Dennis O'Callaghan
Spring wildflowers by Dennis O'Callaghan

Friday night, local botanist Dana Visalli presents "A Botanical Introduction to the Methow Valley". Saturday night, butterfly authority and accomplished photographer David Nunnallee presents "Native Butterflies and Native Plants - An Inseparable Combination".  These lectures will be held at “The Barn” in Winthrop.

A total of 28 different field trips on Saturday and Sunday will explore favorite familiar haunts as well as far-flung locations with interesting flora. Registration has been open for some time, so some field trips may be filling up, but many excellent trips remain open. For instance, acclaimed photographer Mark Turner, co-author of the popular Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, teaches a class on smart ways to use your pocket digital camera. Longtime plant enthusiast and teacher George Thornton leads a trip in the sagebrush hills near Omak. And Don Knoke, a master of plant study for over 50 years, leads a trip to Lookout Mt.

Book fans will enjoy browsing through hard-to-find special editions and out-of-print nature books, brought to The Barn by David Hutchinson of Flora and Fauna Books; David will happily bring along any books specifically requested in advance. Richard Tinsley of the Central Puget Sound Chapter of WNPS will be on hand, selling all of the latest field guides and nature books.

You must be a member of WNPS to participate, but you can become a member for a very reasonable fee when you register for the Methow Valley Study Weekend.  Excellent meal packages are also available. Visit the WNPS website to learn more.

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

April 12th:  “1st Tuesday” program - Afghanistan: Wildlife, Wildlands and Conservation, 7:00 – 8:30pm at the Twisp River Pub.

April 25th:  9th Annual Susie Stephens Memorial Bike Ride (re-scheduled from the March date).  See above for details

April 24th - 27th:  David Douglas History Field-Trip with Jack Nisbet and Bill Hottell.  Spend 4 days exploring the Walla Walla region, including Wallula Gap, Hanford Reach and Palouse Falls, via bus.  Stay at the the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel for 3 nights.  Trips is limited to 29 people and has just a few spots left.  Contact Bill Hottell at 997-6655 or for details and registration.

April 25th:  Public School Funding Alliance Trivia Night Competition - Four of us from the Conservancy are going to be on a team for the 3rd Annual Public School Fundraising Event held this year at the Twisp River Pub. We've done it each year and it's lots of fun (humbling, but fun). Organize your team of four and give us some competition! Go to PSFA's website for more information and to register.

May 3rd:  “1st Tuesday” program - Native Plant Pollinators of North Central Washington, 7:00 – 8:30pm, location to be announced.  Bob Gillespie will showcase the diversity of pollinators of selected native plants in our region. For example, while conducting a pollinator study for the Bureau of Land Management, 83 species of bees were identified pollinating 25 native shrub-steppe plants! 

May 19th - 22nd:  Spring Naturalists’ Retreat with Instructors Libby Mills & Dana Visalli.  The Naturalists’ Retreat is an annual celebration of the Methow Valley in springtime!  See above for details. The retreat is currently full, but we are still taking names on the wait list.

May 21st:  Methow Conservancy Weed and Native Plant Education Table, 9am – Noon, at the Farmer’s Market in Twisp.  We’ll take your questions and share what advice we can.  We’ll also have both our Good Neighbor and Restoring Shrub-Steppe Handbooks freely available, so come by!  We’ll also be there on Saturday’s May 28th, June 4th and June 11th.

June 7th:  “1st Tuesday” program – Bird Feathers, 7:00 – 8:30pm, location to be announced.  Explore the mysteries of bird feather identification with naturalist and environmental educator Dave Scott, co-author of the newly released field guide Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species.

June 10-12th:  Washington Native Plant Society Study WeekendSee above for details.

June 11th:  Winthrop's Passport to Fishing (aka Kids’ Fishing Day), 10am – 2pm.  Hey kids, when you arrive, you will get a fishing day passport!  You choose the locations you want to visit (including the Methow Beaver Project area!), get your passport stamped, then prepare for some great fishing. Fishing related activities and education are half the fun; the other half is the chance to catch one rainbow trout.  Bring your own fishing pole or borrow one there.  Even the bait is supplied.  This is a fun day you and your family won’t want to miss!  The Methow Conservancy is just one of many partners that make this fun, family-friendly event happen. 

June 26th - 29th: David Douglas History Field-Trip with Jack Nisbet and Bill Hottell.  Spend 4 days exploring eastern Washington from Twisp to Kettle Falls to Spokane.  Explore ancient tribal routes and salmon fishing areas; hike on the Kettle Crest Trail; visit St. Paul’s Mission and Spokane House (where David Douglas stayed with Jaco Finley’s family, met the family of Ilum-Spokanee, and made several key plant, tree, bird and mammal collections); Fort Spokane and Devil’s Gap; Grand Coulee and much more. Contact Bill Hottell at 997-6655 or for details and registration.

* Our Cancellation and Refund Policy
If you cancel or leave a fee-based course for any reason:
Full refunds will be given if the request is received two weeks or more before the day of the program (class, workshop, fieldtrip, etc.).  If the cancellation is made less than two weeks before the start of the program, the Methow Conservancy will give a full refund only if we are able to fill your spot.  If you cancel 24 hours or less before the start time of the program or after the class has started there will be no refund of the program fee.  Although we rarely need to do so, we reserve the right to cancel a program.  In this case you will receive a full refund.

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