Methow Headwaters Needs Your Help
The Methow Headwaters Campaign needs your help! Add your name to our comment letter that we will submit to the Bureau of Land Management by March 30, 2017. It is critical we show robust public support for the mineral withdrawal. Please add your name to our letter – every voice counts! Click here to add your name.
Thinking Locally, Acting Everywhere
We have updated our list of actions affecting the Methow at the local, state and federal levels. If you are already part of a group that is making phone calls or visiting offices, feel free to share this information and add some or all of the following important actions to your list.
We will continue to keep this list updated on our website.
LOCAL LEVEL ACTIONS
OKANOGAN COUNTY “OMNIBUS” HEARINGS ON WATER AVAILABIITY
Okanogan County is responding to the recent Hirst Supreme Court ruling by attempting to establish a process for addressing water availability for new building permits. To learn more about the Hirst decision please visit the Municipal Research and Service Center (MRSC) website and read this article by Crosscut.
To develop a “record” of information for the County Hearing Examiner and Planning Department to draw upon when making decisions, the county has scheduled three “Omnibus” hearings. The first hearing will allow testimony from technical experts and professionals on the data they want included in the decision-making process. This first meeting is intended to supply the public with information to enable them to comment at the public hearings next week. We strongly encourage you to attend the first meeting, and plan to comment.
The second two hearings are for the public to comment on the process for the Methow and Okanogan watersheds.
All hearings will take place in the Commissioners Hearing Room in Okanogan.
Thursday, Feb 16th 10am: Hearing for technical experts to provide input.
Wednesday, Feb 22nd 6pm: Public hearing on WRIA 48 (Methow Valley)
Thursday, Feb 23rd 6pm: Public hearing on WRIA 49 (Okanogan Valley)
Read more about State and Federal actions here.
Thank you to everyone who attended the film screening & climate change discussion panel this past Saturday.
A big thank you to our panelists: Amy Snover, Susan Prichard and Christopher James. As well as a big thank you to Perri Howard, Bo Thrasher, Confluence Gallery and Twispworks for accommodating us with chairs, projector and space to screen the film. We would also like to thank Kari & Erik Bown, Joey Nishida, Kent Woodruff and George Wooten for volunteering for the event.
We have recorded most of the discussion and answer portion of the panel and will be working on getting those videos online within the next two weeks.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for an addition screening of the film so stay tuned to our social media channels and website for more information soon to come.
Great News on the ATV Case!
The legal challenge brought by MVCC and Conservation Northwest to Okanogan County’s 2014 ATV Ordinance is finally complete, with a resounding victory for common sense.
You may recall that the ordinance indiscriminately opened almost 600 miles of county roads to ATVs, without accounting for the ecological effects of “bad actors” going off-road near streams or wetlands, steep slopes, and other sensitive areas.
On January 4, the State Supreme Court refused to hear the County’s request to revisit an earlier decision by the Court of Appeals, which had declared the ordinance illegal and invalid. This means that the ruling to invalidate the County’s ATV Ordinance is final!
We expect the Court of Appeals decision to become effective in about a month. All roads that the 2014 Ordinance opened to ATVs will be closed to their use. The County will be required to remove signs that ATVs are allowed on those roads. We will also ask the County to publicize the fact that those roads are now closed to ATVs.
As the Court of Appeals noted, “the county is free to enact another ATV Ordinance,” as long as it complies with SEPA. MVCC respects the recreational value of law-abiding ATVers in the right locations. Our goal is to assure that unregulated ATV use does not lead to degradation of fragile ecosystems, trails, fish and wildlife, or negatively affect neighborhoods. If the County wants to consider opening some roads to ATVs, we are hopeful that the County will be more inclusive of the community’s interests and concerns, ensure proper enforcement of the rules, and comply with the law.
Road Vacation Hearing Set for January 23rd at 4pm.
In one of their final acts, the outgoing Commissioners scheduled a hearing on December 28, 2016 with the intent of vacating a total of 11 roads, a number of which are located in the Methow valley. Some of the roads proposed for vacation are of concern to members of the public and adjacent neighborhoods. For example, vacating the proposed 7.4 miles of “Texas-Benson Creek” road would permanently cut off access to the French Creek basin, and many acres of state and federal land. Those who have been watching the unfolding of the Three Devils case are aware that thousands of acres of public access have already been lost in the past decade through the process of vacating roads.
Because the county failed to properly publicize and post the roads in question, the December 28 hearing had to be postponed to January 23, at 4:00 pm. The advertisement for the hearing should appear soon in the Methow Valley News, the county’s paper of record.
If you are interested or concerned about any of the roads proposed for vacation, or if you have information to share, please contact us and let us know. It is going to take a community effort to discover the location and advocate for the significance any roads proposed for vacation.
Start the New Year off Right!
2017 is here! This is the perfect time to provide the means to advocate for protecting the land, air, water and wildlife of this incredible valley. If you’ve already contributed thank you, thank you!
Methow Headwaters Campaign Update
Great news from the Methow Headwaters campaign, our coalition effort to safeguard the Valley from an industrial scale mine. The Bureau of Land Management just announced it will make 340,000 acres at the Methow Headwaters temporarily off-limits to mining. Read the full press release here: Methow Headwaters Press Release.
There’s a public hearing on the County’s recent emergency ordinance, passed on November 8, 2016.
There’s a public hearing on December 19th about Okanogan County’s recent water-related emergency Ordinance, which was passed on November 8, 2016.
The intent of this Ordinance from the County’s perspective is to ensure the County is in compliance with the requirements of the recent “Hirst” Supreme Court decision. The decision requires counties to ensure water availability prior to the issuance of building permits for “permit exempt wells” that serve single family homes. The County claims that the emergency Ordinance satisfies Hirst requirements because they now have a procedure for determining water adequacy.
We respectfully disagree. First, the emergency Ordinance as proposed creates a “black box” permit procedure that forces applicants to prove water availability without clear criteria for what constitutes proof. Second, we continue to advocate that to truly be in compliance with Hirst and the Growth Management Act and the Planning Enabling Act, the County will need to revisit the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance to determine water availability on a large scale, not on an individual applicant-by-applicant basis.
Three Important County Commissioner Meetings on Monday, December 19.
Speed Limit Meetings: Okanogan County Public Works will hold a public hearing on Monday, December 19th, on proposed speed limit changes on the West Chewuch Road (35 M.P.H. beginning at the State Route 20 Intersection and continuing to end milepost 6.773) and Gold Creek Loop Road (35 M.P.H. beginning at milepost 0.000 and continuing to end milepost 2.415).
The first meeting (Chewuch) is at 10:00 AM & the next meeting (Gold Creek) is at 10:30 AM in the Commissioners Hearing Room, 123 5th Ave North, Okanogan.
Water Regulation Meeting at 1:30 in the Virginia Grainger Building: The public hearing will be conducted on December 19, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Auditorium in the Virginia Grainger Building in Okanogan, WA. Written comments may be submitted to Lalena Johns, Clerk of the Board, at 123 5th Ave N Ste 150, Okanogan, WA 98840 or at email@example.com. A copy of the proposed OCC 20 and Ordinance 2016-5 may be viewed on the Okanogan County Planning Department website at www.okanogancounty.org/
This hearing is on emergency ordinance 2016-5, which was adopted on November 8, 2016.
The intent of this ordinance from the county’s perspective is to ensure that county is in compliance with the requirements of the recent “Hirst” Supreme Court decision. The decision requires counties to ensure water availability prior to the issuance of building permits for “permit exempt wells” that serve single family homes. The county claims that the emergency ordinance satisfies Hirst requirements because they now have a procedure for determining water adequacy.
We respectfully disagree. First, the emergency ordinance creates a “black box” permit procedure by forcing applicants to prove water availability without clear criteria for what constitutes this proof. Second, we continue to advocate that to truly be in compliance with Hirst and the Growth Management Act and the Planning Enabling Act, the County will need to revisit the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance to determine water availability on a large scale, not on an individual applicant-by-applicant basis.
This emergency ordinance is proposed as an amendment to Title 20. Title 20 is also under review for permit changes that would restrict the county’s ability to take input from public comments and require mitigation on permits,
The entire package may be adopted following the hearing.
Our Annual Newsletter has Arrived!
Thank you for your support of the Methow Valley Citizens Council. This past year we have continued to protect the Methow Valley’s rural heritage and natural environment from weakened environmental regulation, industrial mining, and winter air pollution. Please take a look at our annual newsletter for an in-depth overview of what we have been working on this year. INSIDE: MVCC stands up for protecting the headwaters, for clean air, and for making sure the County plans for sustainable growth. We are looking forward to forty more years of advocacy!
Together we can ensure that the Methow Valley is protected for future generations. We’re looking forward to the next forty years of raising a strong community voice with you!
MVCC Board Chair, Maggie Coon, wins Ken White award!
Congrats to MVCC’s Board Chair, Maggie Coon, for receiving the Methow Conservancy’s Ken White award. The Ken White award is given to an individual or organization with a long-standing history of inspiring conservation efforts in the Methow Valley, and who carries on Ken White’s love for the Methow Valley. Known by many people as the Methow’s first naturalist, Ken was a self-taught conservationist who shared his deep passion for appreciating this beautiful valley with all who were interested. Past award winners include, Kent Woodruff (2010), Roxie and Carl Miller (2009), Dave Sabold (2008), Katharine Bill (2007), Ron Judd (2006) and John Sunderland (2005).
Forty Years of Nurturing Sustainable Growth
Thank you to Speak Up Speak Out Radio for interviewing Board Chair, Maggie Coon, and Executive Director, Brian de Place about the history and future of the Methow Valley Citizens Council.
Eulogy for Verne Donnet
Verne Elliott Donnet, 60, of Orcas Island, WA, passed away on Sunday, October 9, 2016 at his home. A memorial was held here in the valley on Saturday, October 15.Verne had a long history as a key player in the Methow Valley Citizens Council, and will be missed for many reasons. George Wooten wrote the following eulogy to acknowledge Verne’s contributions to MVCC and the valley he loved:
For those who didn’t know him, Verne served as our representative on the Watershed Council for about a decade, and his wife Teresa was our secretary, from about 1996 to about 2003. With their two kids, Verne and Louis, they were team Donnet.
Verne came to MVCC as the threat of a 700-unit resort and golf course was falling apart. Together we wrote and received funding from BPA for the original Watershed Council, which Ecology stipulated would include us as a representative. Later, the Watershed Council structure was usurped through legislative funding, but our representation continued, eventually passing to Vicky Welch.
Verne was bigger than life, and his reputation often preceded him. We in his inner circle knew him as a man who cared deeply about the well-being of those who were on the front lines of our organization, sharing compassion and healthy doses of good humor. Verne was front and center in the battle with Okanogan PUD that took so much of our energy for more than a decade, involving more than one appeal to the State Supreme Court represented by Peter Goldman and Washington Forest Law Center, and partnerships with Washington State DNR and Conservation Northwest. Although we did not stop the powerline from being built on DNR lands, we continue to monitor the impacts.
Verne’s outstanding accomplishment was the Ground Water Recharge Survey. As a Civil Engineer, Verne knew that the Watershed Council needed good data to protect ground water resources. He obtained a well-monitoring permit and signed up 86 homes in the Methow Valley for a study of ground water levels. This involved monitoring the static water level in each well once a month for an entire year, or about a thousand visits to all of the wells. He compiled the data and found that contrary to accepted thought, the soil in the Methow Valley was so porous that irrigation ditches returned ground water to the river aquifer within days. In order to verify his study’s implications on the merits or not of piping ditches, USGS was commissioned to repeat the study, and Verne was vindicated. Verne’s study cost about $5,000, the USGS study cost about a hundred times as much.
The lasting benefit of the study was that our valley has now rallied around the need for aquifer protection and particularly, beaver recovery, with the understanding that the pre-settlement landscape would have held ten times more groundwater with beaver dams still in place.
Here is the USGS report that Verne inspired
40th Anniversary Celebration Appreciation
BIG THANKS to the following local businesses, farmers and individuals for donating or discounting products and services for our 40th anniversary celebration. The party was a big success by all accounts – Please thank these folks by supporting their work with your patronage!
Thomson’s Custom Meats, Blue Star Coffee Roasters, SweetRiver Bakery, The Ruby Slippers Farm, Sunny Pine Farm, Channing Farm, Red Shed Produce, Aaron Studen, Anaka Mines, Terry Dixon, Kathleen Ann Hirschstein, Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Lost River Winery, Sixknot Organic Hard Cider, Methow Valley News, Shafer Museum, Laura Love and Family Dog, KTRT 97.5 The Root, Methow Arts, Methow Valley Community Center, Phyllis Daniels and Kari Bown.. Photos by Patricia Leigh
MVCC has been added to Microsoft’s nonprofit database!
If you are a Microsoft employee, MVCC is now listed in their nonprofit database. Microsoft’s generous donation matching program means that all donations are eligible for 100% match up to $15,000! Volunteer hours are also matched at $25/hr.
Three Devils Shirts Available for $20
Three Devils Shirts available to help fund the ongoing legal needs of the Chiliwist Coalition Residents and Friends. Shirts are $20 and can be purchased by contacting Patti Cockfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at (509) 422-5427. Shirts run large, McKenzie is seen here in a size medium.
Header photo and weekly Methow Valley News ad photo by © Young Reflections Photography.