Hope all our friends out there have had a wonderful time today! We are truly thankful for all of you who have joined us here at the Ranch over the years! Take care until we meet again!
With the days slowing down, and the tourist traffic dwindling away for the winter, the wildlife are starting to show up here in the valley. I went down to Buckner Orchard today, to see who I could find. I saw 2 bucks and a doe munching on the fallen apples. Their winter coats are thickening up, and they were enjoying the chow too much to be afraid of me.
Next, I went down to the Lake, where I found some beautiful swans. They have been coming every winter here for a while now, and it is always fun to go see how many you can count out there. They just arrived a week or 2 ago, so they are not out in full force yet, but I spotted 9 so far. Last year there were almost 30!
With elk season being over, I’m told they are roaming the upper valley now. Logan spotted about 12 in his headlights as he pulled into the Ranch the other night. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a picture soon and post that. Elk are truly stunning to look at!
Mark saw a bobcat, and several dogs have found some local skunks. The squirrels are busy as ever, and there are always all sorts of birds out on the water of the Lake this time of year. With less people around to bother them, all the critters of the forest come on out, and it sure is fun to see them!
It is true that owls are common around these parts. Hearing one at night is not an uncommon occurance. And from time to time, you may even see a set of those big yellow eyes following you as you go for a “midnight stroll”.
What is not common, is to see one in the daylight. A few days ago, I saw just that! I was getting ready to take down the electric fence for the winter at the Bakery Corrals, and sure enough, big as life, there was a Great Horned Owl just sitting there on the rail!
I have to admit I was slightly startled to see him just sitting there. Not that he was particularly scary. Just that he didn’t really belong there. You know how unexpected things can throw you off? It was like that. But after I got past that, I decided he was really quite neat!
Now, here is the truly amazing part. He sat there, calm as can be while I ran to my house (right next door), grabbed my camara, and came back to take his picture! He followed me with those big yellow eyes – it really is amazing how far they can turn their heads! He let me get real close to him though, which was great, because I don’t have a telephoto lens.
He finally decided he didn’t really like me getting in his space, and hopped down off the rail. He didn’t look quite so calm after that, but he still didn’t fly off. I decided to leave him alone, but still had to deal with taking down the fence, which meant I was still “following” him as he hopped away along the fence that I was taking down. I have no idea why he didn’t just fly off. Maybe he was injured, although I didn’t see any noticeable signs of that. Eventually he did disappear, and I was left to finish my work before it snowed…
Just a quick update for those that may not have heard yet – HR 2806 has passed through the House, and is now being sent on to the Senate. The battle is not yet over, but this is a big step towards being able to re-open the Upper Stehekin Valley Road, providing access to a spectacular section of backcountry in the North Cascades National Park.
The following is a message from Washington State Senator Linda Evans-Parlette:
As you all know, HR 2806 was passed by the House of Representatives by a unanimous voice vote on Monday and sent to the Senate for further consideration. As you also know, changes were made to the bill to narrow the authority given to the Secretary of the Interior in adjusting wilderness boundaries. The following is a summary of the modifications that were made:
- Instead of giving the Secretary the ability to adjust wilderness boundaries, the revised version only allows the Secretary to adjust the wilderness boundary of the North Cascade National Park for the purpose of rebuilding the Upper Stehekin Valley Road with the following parameters:
o Within one mile of the route, on the date of the enactment of this section, of the Stehekin Valley Road;
o Within the boundaries of the North Cascades National Park; and 3) outside of the boundaries of the Stephen Mather Wilderness (sec 207)
- The measure goes on to further describe the principle of no-net-loss of lands and sets forth specific provisions on how this can be accomplished:
o Equal amounts of federally owned acreage are exchanged between the Stephen Mather Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park, resulting in no net loss to either- authority is granted to the Secretary to make the wilderness designation of exchanged lands;
o Newly designated wilderness shall include the lands along the route of the Stehekin Valley Road that are replaced by the reconstruction;
o No sale or acquisition is authorized; and
o No priority is given to this project over of other construction or repair of similarly damaged roads in units of the National Park System.
The passage of this bill from the House is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. I recognize that the changes made were necessary in order to gain the support of Congressman Jay Inslee. Quite frankly, I hope that stalling by the National Parks Service is not allowed when this bill ultimately passes. The good news is that the narrowed scope will likely assist in gaining the approval of the Senate, where we will now turn our collective attention.
At the close of this email you will find contact information for Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. If you have not already done so, you may wish to share your thoughts with them on this important bill (feel free to copy me in your email, if you choose). It’s worth noting that Senator Cantwell is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where the bill will likely be referred.
Thanks for your continued support of this bill and the Stehekin community. Please do not hesitate to call on me or my staff if you have any questions.
LINDA EVANS PARLETTE
Senate Republican Caucus Chair
12th Legislative District
Senator Maria Cantwell
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Washington DC Phone: 202-224-3441
Richland office phone: (509) 946-8106
Senator Patty Murray
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Washington DC Phone: 202-224-2621
Spokane office phone: (509) 624-9515
If you would like to help in the effort to re-open the Road, please contact your senators, and let them know how important this issue is. Thanks!