Citizens held off big money for years

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, Beauty eludes the beast.

METHOW VALLEY, Wash. - Only by sticking determinedly to their vision of this valley for 20 years did environmentalists force a compromise from all-out development.

When the Aspen Ski Corp. and the Forest Service wanted to develop a downhill ski resort here in 1974, the Methow Valley Citizens' Council and the Friends of the Methow organized opposition so effectively that eventually the corporation dropped the Methow from its sights and instead developed Whistler Ski Resort in British Columbia.

But other developers, with the Forest Service still going along, kept pressure on this valley.

The biggest threat came in 1984, when the Forest Service approved the Early Winters resort, which would have drawn as many as 8,200 downhill skiers a day. The proposal called for 4,000 condos on 1,200 privately owned acres that were an amalgamation of former hard-scrabble ranches.

Snowmaking and the increased population would have consumed more than 3.6 billion gallons of water a year in a county that sits in the rain shadow of the Cascades and receives less than 12 inches of precipitation a year. The environmental impact statement for Early Winters spilled the battle into court.

The citizens' council sued, charging that the environmental review of Early Winters was flawed for, among other things, failing to adequately consider alternative sites, air-quality deterioration in the Pasayten Wilderness and impacts on migrating mule deer.

The environmentalists lost in U.S. District Court, but won substantial victories on appeals that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Forest Service had to fork out some $240,000 in legal fees and revamp the impact statement.

The spotted owl flitted into the picture, and the possibility that the North Cascades could be home to the endangered bird delayed resort development again. In 1992 a partnership went broke, and through foreclosure, the core parcel of private property was acquired by R.D. Merrill Co., which saw a way to satisfy its bottom line without downhill skiing.

High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.