Methow Home 2023

Page 1

FREE A supplement to the Methow Valley News HOME METHOW 2023 HOUSING FOR LOCALS Tracking the challenges REAL ESTATE It’s a competitive market BEING HERE Making yourself at home
Methow Valley News 2
independent insurance
Offering business, farm, auto, home, secondary home, nightly rental insurance, and more. • In Twisp: 102 S. Glover St. • 509-997-5291 In Winthrop: 505B Highway 20 • 509-996-4515 Choose local. Choose independent. Choose The VIP Insurance Agency. With40yearsintheMethow ourexperiencemakesthedifference J.BartBradshaw CERTIFIEDPUBLICACCOUNTANT,PLLC IncomeTaxPreparation•TaxPlanning& AdviceSmallBusinessConsulting•Payroll QuarterlyReports•QuickBooks ProfessionalsE-File&DirectDeposits Professional&Confidential
agency in the Methow Valley

Looking homeward

The 2023 Methow Home magazine will look different in a couple of ways from the past few years. For one, we have restored the “glossy” covers that were a trademark of the magazine for years. For cost reasons, during the COVID pandemic years we used the same newspaper stock for the covers as for the inside pages. It just wasn’t quite the same. Now that we are putting most of the effects of COVID behind us, we’ve gone back to the more-attractive look, feel and durability of glossy covers.

Inside those covers, we have shifted our focus a bit to reflect the evolving nature of the Methow Valley housing market. For many years, we’ve featured a variety of home “profiles” to explore the aspirations of homeowners (full- and part-timers alike), the creativity of architects and the craftsmanship of our local builders.

This year we’ve turned out attention more inward, focusing on the needs of the local housing market. As residents and part-timers who are paying attention are aware, there is a critical need for more housing in the valley, particularly at the affordable end of the spectrum. Many local organizations are working on aspects of that problem, and are making progress — but much needs to be done. Contributor Sandra Strieby offers an overview on page 12. Ann McCreary again updates the status of the local real estate market, which is adapting to ever-changing conditions. An essay by Ray and Mary Johnston poses some interesting ideas for

clustered housing.

Other articles explore considerations that make the Methow Valley special. The Methow Conservancy helps define what “home” means. The Okanogan Conservation District makes the case for Firewise efforts. You’ll also find information about Dark Sky lighting guidelines and “eco-friendly” landscaping. We’ve even included a feature story on an important aspect of community: the meeting places where we feel comfortable interacting with friends and neighbors.

We again extend thanks to our loyal advertisers. They include locally owned businesses that provide jobs and support the local economy, and businesses that have developed a substantial presence in the valley by providing quality products or services. Methow Home 2023 is a handy, year-round guide to the businesses that are here to assist you.

Methow Home 2023 3
Don Nelson Publisher/Editor EDITOR'S NOTE MVM WATER WELLS & PUMPS Quality Drilling FREE ESTIMATES • PROFESSIONAL SITE SELECTION & BUDGET ANALYSIS AIR ROTARY DRILLING • HARD ROCK, BOULDERS, SAND OR GRAVEL DOMESTIC & IRRIGATION • DOMESTIC PUMP INSTALLATION & SERVICE QUALITY WORK AT A COMPETITIVE PRICE Toll Free 1-888-682-1010 Pateros Shop/Office • 7:00 - 8:30 • (509) 923-2073 Chelan Office • 8:30 - 4:30 • (509) 682-1122 Serving the Methow, Lake Chelan & Okanogan Valleys Owned/Operated Marshall Miller • Charles Miller Lic# MVMQUDL936BB Locally owned and operated for two generations with the longest continuous service in North Central Washington.


On the cover

This home on the Chewuch River features an outdoor “room” that the homeowners say they spend most of their time in during the summer. The room has retractable awnings to maximize flexibility. Details begin on page 6.

Methow Valley News 4
Julia Babkina is a freelance writer for the Methow Valley News.
6 Practically situated, artfully designed ‘Industrial’ cabin makes great use of Chewuch River site
Methow Valley Home 2023 A publication of the Methow Valley News P.O. Box 97, 502 S. Glover St., Twisp, WA 98856 509.997.7011 • fax 509.997.3277 DON NELSON Publisher/Editor TERA EVANS Ad Sales JOE NOVOTNY Design
18 An
estate reality
Buyers, sellers adapt to shifts in the Methow market
FREE A supplement to the Methow Valley News HOME METHOW 2023 HOUSING FOR LOCALS Tracking the challenges REAL ESTATE It’s a competitive market BEING HERE Making yourself at home
12 Housing everyone, one unit at a time Collective efforts drive valley’s quest to provide homes
Ann McCreary is a freelance writer for the Methow Valley News.


Bringing your

41 Partnering in preservation

Architects and builder used surplus materials to create ‘Hugg Hut'

45 Hybrid neighborhoods offer a vibrant alternative

Mix of housing types exemplifies community

47 A journeycommunity’s to fire resiliency

Cooperation and planning earned Firewise status


Methow Home 2023 5
‘ARTistry in Mazama’ 2023 Methow Valley Home Tour theme
Making the Methow Valley ‘home’ Cultivating forever relationships with people and places 31 A place’‘people by design The Mazama Public House was conceived with community in mind
An ecofriendly feast for the senses
landscape to
Celebrating the dark times There are many ways to protect the Methow’s pristine skies
Ashley Lodato is a Methow Valley News columnist. Sandra Strieby is a freelance writer for the Methow Valley News. Joanna Bastian is a Methow Valley News columnist.

Practically situated, artfully designed

‘Industrial’ cabin makes great use of Chewuch River site

When Steve Saunders and his wife, Ulrike Langer, visited the Methow Valley in 2016, they didn’t anticipate that would lead to building a house across from Steve’s former home. As fate would have it, that’s exactly what happened.

Saunders’ and Langer’s home, a two-bedroom, two-bath home on 18 acres above the Chewuch River near Winthrop, was built between 2018 and 2021 on land adjacent to the property Saunders had lived on with his former wife.

“I was showing Ully around and showing her where I used to live, and this property that I was part-owner of, and telling her it was on the market and we were trying to sell it,” said Saunders — who had moved back to Seattle, where he met Langer.

“And I said, do you really have to sell it?” interjected Langer. “I thought it would be a shame if it sells, so can we take it off the market and see what happens?”

“And it didn’t sell, thank God, and a year later we were married,” said Saunders. The couple took the property off the market in 2016, purchased it in 2017, and had their first meeting with architects in

January 2018.

“Ironically, I can sit in my new office and look right across at my old office,” said Saunders. Or at least in the winter, before the aspens bloom, added Langer.

“The house is deliberately oriented in a way that we see as little [of] other houses as possible, which becomes more and more impossible because there is so much construction all around,” said Langer.


The 1,350-square-foot home is an industrial cabin style. Concrete floors and dark steel backsplashes integrate seamlessly with natural elements like exposed glulam beams and distressed wood siding. The home is cruciform shape, the center of which is the kitchen. The two bedrooms are on opposite ends of the home, creating privacy while honoring the open space between them.

Photos courtesy of

Two islands, topped with dark leathered granite countertops, a style Saunders and Langer carried from their home in Seattle, provides ample room for storage and meal prep in an open floor plan. The kitchen looks onto the glasswalled living room with views of the hills descending into the Chewuch River. The glass expanse invites the outdoors in while preserving the comforts of home.

Radiant floor heat and a wood stove keep the cabin cozy in the winter. With only one mature tree on the site, lead architect Margo Peterson-Aspholm, of Prentiss+Balance+Wickline Architects, had to incorporate shaded areas for the summer months. A high eave extends to shade the riverside deck off the living room and an extended rake covers the walkway to the home’s entrance.

But it is the outdoor “room” between the main house and the garage that Saunders and Langer say they spend most of their time in during the summer. The room has retractable awnings to maximize flexibility.

The exterior walls of the bedrooms are corrugated steel that is designed to rust, which not only complements the distressed wood siding but also its natural surroundings. A built-in outdoor shower advances the motif of indoor-outdoor living.

Langer took it upon herself to build a shed, which she finished last summer. Saunders cut the boards, but “Ully pounded 95% of the nails,” said Saunders. The boards came from a house in Seattle built in the 1920s.

“We wanted a modern design shed,” said Langer. “What’s the point of having a designer cabin and then looking at an ugly shed? We wanted something that’s not an eyesore.”

Peterson-Aspholm said Saunders and Langer built their home at an opportune time. Today, the cost to build a high-end home in the valley is at least $400 to $500 per square foot due to increased demand, cost of materials, and shortage of sub-contractors like plumbers and electricians. Ten years ago, it was about $300 per square foot. Saunders’ and Langer’s home

Methow Valley News 8

would cost 30% more to build today, said Peterson-Aspholm.

“People don’t believe me, and I can barely believe me,” she said.

“The quality of craftsmanship generally doesn’t vary with the budget. That’s not always the case, but we’re really lucky in the Methow to have such a great group of pretty talented contractors,” said Peterson-Aspholm. Saunders and Langer worked with Phil Dietz of Lost River Construction as their contractor.

“If you keep your house small, you can keep the level of finish of higher,” said Peterson-Aspholm.


Finishing touches to the home are the interior design components Langer artfully combined through smart buys from Wayfair, Ikea, Etsy, and second-hand furniture stores, but perhaps the most notable pièces de résistance is the artwork that hangs in their home.

Two works by the late Sean McCabe, a popular art teacher at Liberty Bell High School, hang in the living room. The paintings, one

Methow Home 2023 9
Design by Johnston Architects
James s
509-341-4326 6 • •
com m Design
Yellowjacket Lifting Randy Smeltzer Boom Truck Services owner/operator | (509) 322-1094
Photo by Benj Drummond
by Pinto Design

of a skate skier and one of a classic skier, are a reflection of Saunders and Langer as a couple.

“It had to be these two because Steve is a classic skier and I’m a skate skier,” said Langer.

The pieces hold special meaning for Saunders, who knew McCabe personally. McCabe died of a rare form of thyroid cancer in 2009.

The couple has developed a tradition since moving into the home.

“Every year, for Christmas for [the past] three years, we have been gifting each other art,” said Langer. “It all has to be Methow Art.”

A prominent metal wall sculpture by local artist and musician Terry Hunt hangs near the entryway. The material came from the site of the old Wagner Mill in Twisp. A triptych painting by Ginger Reddington, another artist from the Methow, adorns their guest room.

The pandemic ushered a wave of demand to live in the Methow. For Peterson-Aspholm’s firm, 2021 was one of the busiest years — so much so that they hired three more architects. While there was a rush of people trying to get their houses started during the pandemic, Saunders and Langer were trying to get theirs finished.

The couple camped inside their home when access was limited to their outdoor shower, kitchen sink,

microwave, and construction porta-potty. Their first meal cooked inside their home was a big deal, said Langer, but not less significant than getting their post office box in Winthrop.

“The moment we took possession of the post box, that was the moment we made this our primary residence,” said Langer. “Getting a post box, that was symbolic, okay we live here now.”

with so many mortgage options, it’s important to have a knowledgeable resource to guide you through the process with consistent communication. We’ll take the time to discuss your needs and review various


Shelli Schlotfeldt Mortgage Loan Offcer Wenatchee

Super Admin US Bank Demo Mortgage Loan Officer Somewhere office: 555-555-5555 | cell: 777-777-7777


NMLS # 123456

Angela Agent Real Estate Agent

Eden Prairie office: 952-977-8620 | cell: 952-977-8617

NMLS # 505005484

are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Visit to learn more about US Bank products and services. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. ©2022 U.S. Bank

Methow Valley News 10
Serving the Methow Valley for over 30 years 996-8118 229 Riverside Ave Suite E Winthrop Lic# HARMOHI868BL WOOD & LAMINATE FLOORING MARMOLEUM CARPET TILE VINYL PLANK HUNTER DOUGLAS WINDOW SHADES EXTERIOR WINDOW SHADES office: 952-977-8620 | cell: 952-977-8617 Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Visit to learn more about U.S. Bank products and services. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. ©2022 U.S. Bank Super Admin US Bank Demo Mortgage Loan Officer Somewhere office: 555-555-5555 | cell: 777-777-7777 superadminusb@usbank.test Angela Agent Real Estate Agent Eden Prairie office: 952-977-8620 | cell: 952-977-8617 NMLS # 505005484 Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Visit to learn more about U.S. Bank products and services. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. ©2022 U.S. Bank
Photo courtesy of Steve Saunders/Ulrike Langer Paintings by the late Sean McCabe, a popular art teacher at Liberty Bell High School, hang in the living room.
offce: 509-663-4994 cell: 509-881-5836 NMLS #926326 Kurt Sixel Mortgage Branch Manager Chelan offce: 509-736-2247 cell: 503-780-1686 NMLS #259672 Once you fnd that perfect place to call home, the next big step is to fnance it. Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs
today to learn more.
loan options with you. Low down payment options First-time homebuyer help FHA and VA mortgages
available for a wide price range of homes Lot loan fnancing for vacant land
options for your needs to buy, build, or borrow
approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program change without notice. Visit to learn more about U.S. Bank products and services. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. ©2022 U.S. Bank
Methow Home 2023 11 program terms are subject to U.S. Bank National Association. ZAGAROOFINGLLC LET'S MAKS YOUR VISION A REALITY. Free Roof Estimates Residential Roofing Commercial Roofing OWENSCORNING PREFFEREDROOFING CONTRACTOR PartnerWithUS ForAllYour RoofingProjects! 509-733-9084 LIC#ZAGARRL770CW ServingallofOkanoganCountyandsurroundingareas!

Housing everyone, one unit at a time

Collective efforts drive valley’s quest to provide homes

“Home,” with all its implications, is a compelling concept, one that feeds our souls and imaginations and grounds us on every level. Even the thought of being without a home is frightening; the reality can undermine health and well-being and precipitate a cascade of consequences.


In 2014, the destruction wrought by the Carlton Complex Fire brought the issue of housing to the forefront of public thought. Adequate housing had long been in short supply, and the loss of scores of houses exacerbated an ongoing need. Although the immediate demands presented by the firestorm have receded, the valley’s need for housing has continued to grow and occupies more and more of the community’s conversational bandwidth.

The Methow Valley has become acutely aware of a need for housing that’s affordable, available and stable for everyone who lives here — including seniors and their caregivers, young people experiencing housing instability, individuals and families. Work force housing is critical — communities can’t function without workers, and the cost of housing has outstripped local wage rates.

Intertwined with social and economic concerns is a love of place that, coupled with growing demands on natural resources,

brings environmental factors into the conversation. How can we preserve the valley’s character? How can we house everyone without compromising clean air and water or unduly impinging on the other things we value?

In its 2020 annual report, the Methow Housing Trust estimated that the valley’s demand for housing exceeded supply by 350 units. Executive Director Danica Ready says she’s “confident … the need has grown since then.”

At the same time, housing prices have soared, from a valley-wide median of $412,000 in January 2021 to over $647,000 two years later, according to statistics posted by Winthrop’s Blue Sky Real Estate.

Earnings have not kept pace. Although parts of the valley saw wage increases in the neighborhood of 5% in 2022 compared to 2021, earnings grew by only 0.8-1.0% in Twisp, Winthrop, and the surrounding areas, according to data provided by the Economic Alliance in Okanogan.

In no case was wage growth strong enough to match the rise in

housing costs. Even middle-income employees — teachers, nurses, and forest service workers, for example — may be hard-pressed to afford the high cost of living in the Methow.


Definitions of “affordable” vary, and none of them capture the nuances of individual situations

and circumstances. Affordability metrics can be useful in framing the challenges, though.

One way of quantifying affordability is the Housing Affordability Index developed by the National Association of Realtors to evaluate buyers’ ability to afford mortgage payments. An index of 100 indicates a balance between the cost of

Methow Valley News 12
Photo courtesy of Methow Housing Trust The happy new owner of a Methow Housing Trust home in Winthrop.

housing and a household’s ability to make payments. Higher numbers indicate that housing is more affordable; lower numbers indicate that it is less so.

According to reports published by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington (WCRER), Okanogan County’s Housing Affordability Index has diminished steadily over the course of a decade, from 182.6 in 2012 to 77.8 in 2022.

In the third quarter of 2020, the county Housing Affordability Index was 99.7, indicating that costs and ability to pay were close to being in balance. Two and a half years later, affordability has fallen by more than 20 points.

Since housing tends to be more expensive in the Methow Valley than in other parts of Okanogan County, the Methow’s actual Housing Affordability Index is probably even lower than the WCRER reports indicate. The message is clear: would-be homeowners have seen a sharp reduction in buying power.

A more common approach, and

Methow Home 2023 13
Photo courtesy of Methow Housing Trust
“ Deal’n Dirt” with • Full site prep • Septic systems • Road grading • Fire hazard reduction • Tree removal 509-341-4109 58 Horizon Flats, Winthrop 509-996-2264 Our friendly and professional sta can help you with: -Building Products for Any Project -Windows and Doors -Decking, Siding, and Finish Lumber -Wood and Gas Stoves -Green Egg Grills and Accessories North Valley Lumber Nick Brandenburg, Manager
The Methow Housing Trust is building 16 new homes at its Cascade Meadows South development in Winthrop.

one that can be used to evaluate affordability of both buying and renting, is to measure the percentage of a household’s gross income that’s spent for housing. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers households that spend more than 30% of their income on housing to be “cost-burdened,” and those that spend above 50% to be “severely cost-burdened.”

The 2020 Okanogan County Housing Needs Study found 37.2% of Methow Valley households below the Weeman Bridge to be cost burdened or severely cost-burdened; above the bridge, that figure is 26.7%. County-wide, the households most likely to be cost-burdened are renters classified as low-income, very low-income, or extremely low-income. Among homeowners, there are some at every income level who are cost burdened, but low-income, very low-income, and extremely low-income households are more likely to be cost-burdened, and some of those households are severely cost-burdened.

Methow Valley News 14
Photo courtesy of Methow Housing Trust
Architecture + Project Management 509.433.7545 NORTH CASCADES PROPANE 509-997-3955 ~ Serving all of Okanogan County ~ Residential Commercial Agricultural Located at: 1202 Cascade Dr. Twisp, WA
The Methow Housing Trust’s Cascade Meadows South housing will be followed by Cascade Meadows North.

Affordability is one element of the housing equation; other factors are availability and stability. Vacancy rates in the valley are “critically low,” the local Housing Solutions Networks found. People seeking year-round housing have little from which to choose, in part because a high percentage of the valley’s houses are held for seasonal use. Single-person households, in particular, have difficulty finding suitable accommodation.

The Housing Authority of Okanogan County has noted a high demand for one-bedroom units to house individuals living alone, and the 2020 needs study found that, countywide, “The most common renter-occupied household is a 1-person household.”

Instability also plagues valley renters, who often find themselves moving frequently among shortterm rentals and house-sitting gigs, or losing their homes when a house is sold or the owners move into it themselves. None of that bodes well for establishing a stable work force in a thriving community.


In typical Methow fashion, several of the valley’s thought leaders recognized the opportunity in the housing crisis and joined forces to form the Housing Solutions Network. At its inception in 2020, the network core group included five organizations, each with a different perspective:

• Methow Housing Trust. The housing trust was formed to make affordable housing permanently available through a ground-lease model. Qualified buyers who earn 60%-150% of Area Median Income (AMI; a common benchmark for household earnings within a given area) buy houses developed by the trust while the housing trust retains ownership of the underlying land. Restrictive covenants ensure that, when houses change hands, they are sold to housing trust-qualified buyers and prices remain within reach of those buyers. To date the housing trust has built and sold 28 houses; another 45 are under construction or in the development pipeline. A 61-household waiting list attests to the magnitude of need

Methow Home 2023 15
Photo courtesy of Methow Housing Trust Construction of Cascade Meadows South will be completed this year.
Design + Build in the Methow Valley

for Housing Trust homes.

• Room One. As the valley’s one-stop support center, Room One has a broad interest in human well-being, and provides comprehensive, individualized support to meet community members’ social and health needs. In 2022 Room One helped people with direct assistance or referrals related to housing more than 140 times — significant in a community the size of the Methow — and continued to assist young people experiencing housing instability through its Youth Housing Support Program.

• TwispWorks. In support of its mission to promote economic vitality, TwispWorks focuses on creating opportunities through its Methow Investment Network. To date, the investment network has invested millions of dollars in local enterprises. Now it’s turned its attention to the valley’s housing conundrum and is exploring ways to support development of stable, affordable housing that will boost economic vitality.

The network is exploring creation of a Program-Related Investment

—similar to a grant program, but with the expectation of repayment — dedicated to creation of rental housing and funded with charitable contributions.

• Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC). For more than 45 years, MVCC has worked to maintain the valley’s natural environment and rural character. That long history of action and advocacy has endowed the council with a deep understanding of local land and water resources, and the ways in which development can support or undermine the integrity of natural systems. MVCC advocates conscious decision making to support the valley’s needs while preserving those facets of the environment that the community values, and works collaboratively to foster long-term solutions.

• Methow Conservancy. The Conservancy’s mission is “to inspire people to care for the land of the Methow Valley,” and its approach is multifaceted. As a land trust, the Conservancy is directly involved in stewardship of the valley’s resources.

The organization also understands the role of people and communities in caring for land, recognizing that living here is a powerful inspiration and adequate housing is necessary to make that possible. The Conservancy is also a clearinghouse for housing and other data through its State of the Methow project.

Together, the members of the core group represent interests in the Methow Valley’s people, environment, and economy — the three elements of the triple bottom line that has proven as relevant to community sustainability as it is to business management. In 2020 the group reached out to the community for guidance in defining housing needs, and the following year released a list of 26 action-oriented solutions calculated to address those needs.

The Methow Valley needs adequate supplies of affordable dwellings for ownership, long-term rental, and short-term or seasonal rental, the Housing Solutions Network determined. The network’s solutions list includes projects

aimed at meeting each of those needs, along with planning and administrative strategies that will focus resources and build capacity throughout the valley.

The Housing Solutions Network has also expanded beyond its original five-member core group, and now comprises more than a dozen organizations and individuals who meet regularly to compare notes and seek input, identify obstacles, and share successes. The network includes:

• The Housing Authority of Okanogan County, which provides, acquires, and preserves housing for low-income residents.

• Jamie’s Place, which provides long-term elder care using the Green House model, and is also involved in housing for the community’s caregivers and other members of the work force.

• We Methow, a grassroots groups advocating for action on behalf of working people who face a growing disparity between earnings and the cost of housing.

• The Okanogan Coalition for Health Improvement, a network of

Methow Valley News 16
Providing our customers with the best possible products while maintaining outstanding customer service • Rebar • Lumber • Trusses • Roofing • Siding • Doors • Windows • Decking • Insulation • Sheetrock • Cabinets • Hardware • Paints • Stains • Glass/Mirror 1309 Highway 20 South, Twisp Ÿ 509-997-8541 Ÿ We Make Great Paint We Sell CustomMade Cabinets We Offer Quality Doors & Windows Boom Truck & Sheds Providing our customers with the best possible products while maintaining outstanding customer service • Rebar • Lumber • Trusses • Roofing • Siding • Doors • Windows • Decking • Insulation • Sheetrock • Cabinets • Hardware • Paints • Stains • Glass/Mirror 1309 Highway 20 South, Twisp Ÿ 509-997-8541 Ÿ We Make Great Paint We Sell CustomMade Cabinets We Offer Quality Doors & Windows We Deliver w/ Boom Truck & Piggyback Forklift Sheds

health care providers working to eliminate health disparities; the coalition has prioritized affordable housing as a focus area, citing its influence on access to health care, mental and emotional health, and child development.

• The towns of Twisp and Winthrop develop and implement housing policies and regulations to guide development in support of residents’ health, safety and welfare and each town’s long-range vision.

• Representatives of the Milltown Planned Development proposed by Hank and Judy Konrad, which would provide a mix of affordable housing, commercial space, and community amenities on land the Konrads own in and adjacent to Twisp.

• Methow at Home, which supports residents who want to age in place, and has partnered with homesharing platform Silvernest to encourage seniors with extra bedrooms to consider sharing their houses, long- or short-term. What’s emerged from the conversation is a web of connections

between organizations that have obvious roles in housing and ones that seem less evident. Collectively, the housing brain trust has made substantial inroads on the Housing Solutions Network’s action list, both on the ground and in the realm of long-range planning and barrier removal. Some notable successes include:

• Winthrop’s Town Council declared a housing crisis in the Methow Valley late in 2021; the town’s planning commission and staff have since reviewed Winthrop’s policies and regulations related to affordable housing and recently requested further guidance from the council.

• Housing Action Plans now being developed by the towns of Twisp and Winthrop will provide data, a roadmap, and a framework for meeting housing needs throughout the valley.

• Two tiny houses have been installed for caregivers at Jamie’s Place, providing stable, affordable housing for the caregivers and helping to ensure continuity of care for the resident elders

• The Housing Authority has made plans to develop 22 apartments in Winthrop on land owned by the Methow Housing Trust, and is currently seeking funding for the project; significantly, the development will be heavily weighted toward one-bedroom units to meet the identified need to house single individuals.

• The Housing Trust has acquired land for 11 new houses in Twisp and has nine houses under construction in Winthrop.

Several other projects are on the drawing boards or under discussion, a further reflection of the community’s attention and responsiveness to the valley’s need for adequate housing. Those projects are likely to unfold over a period of years.

In the meantime, the Methow will continue to grapple with its housing challenge. It’s a big and complex one that will require patience and perseverance. The valley is revealing its true nature in steady progress toward the goal, one housing unit, one household at a time.

Methow Home 2023 17
509-429-5626 leuschenconstruction #LEUSCCL811M9 GENERAL CONTRACTOR

An evolving real estate reality

Buyers, sellers adapt to shifts in the Methow market

Describing the Methow Valley real estate market over the past three years, local brokers have used terms like “frenzied,” “competitive,” and “heartbreaking.”

As 2023 unfolds, brokers are using words like “balanced,” “stable” and “normal” to describe the changes they are seeing in the local real estate scene.

However, they don’t anticipate a return to a pre-pandemic “normal” any time soon, if ever. That’s because the factors that have contributed to the high demand and volatility of the local real estate market — namely the in-migration of people able to work remotely — will continue to impact the valley, they say.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, office workers turned into telecommuters almost overnight, and communities like the Methow Valley became meccas — dubbed “zoom towns” — for people fleeing urban areas to live and work remotely in more tranquil surroundings.

“The zoom town frenzy pace has slowed, but it has not stopped,” said Heather Marrone, designated broker/owner of Blue Sky Real Estate in Winthrop.

“I don’t’ think it will ever stop because the description of so many jobs has shifted forever from the pandemic. As long as jobs continue to increase their remote aspects or options, Methow Valley buyers will continue to fit that profile,”

Single family homes

Marrone said.

The buying frenzy “has definitely slowed down a lot,” said Ina Clark, managing broker/owner of Mountain to River Realty in Winthrop. “However, our location with good schools and incredible outdoor recreation will continue to be desirable.”


Despite its continued desirability, the valley is following national and regional trends with a real estate market that has gone from red hot to lukewarm. The overheated market began cooling off during 2022 as interest rates rose, the inventory of property was depleted, and people became concerned about inflation and reduced purchasing power. Nationwide, the number of home sales dropped 18% in 2022 compared to 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In the Methow Valley, the real estate frenzy was in full force as 2022 began, with intense competition among buyers for a paltry inventory of homes and properties. Bidding wars were common, often won by cash transactions well over asking price. But things began to shift as the year progressed, said Marrone.

“[The year] 2022 could be divided

into two parts. January through July, and then the rest of the year. The pace actually started to slow by the beginning of July, but it took about a month to close out the transactions that came under contract during the ‘superhot’ market,” she said.

During the first part of the year, homes in the valley sold at an average of 5% over the listing price. During the second half of the year, average sales had dropped to about 4% below listing price, she said.

“But the style of home and location greatly influence that number,” Marrone noted. “For example, modern homes in any valley location ran closer to 10% above list price. Homes in the Mazama area also averaged closer

to 10% above list. Those homes are now selling around list price versus selling below list. There are always exceptions, but that is the trend we see right now,” she said in February.

Competition for desirable properties was still intense at the beginning of 2023, Clark said. “Recently I had seven offers on a home and four of them were in cash,” she said.

The pool of cash buyers is shrinking, however, said Adam Rynd, designated broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Cascade Real Estate in Winthrop.

“Much of that is due to the declines in the stock market, and particularly technology stock values. The reality [stocks] in order

Methow Valley News 18
Sales volume by area 2021 vs. 2022
Charts courtesy of Windermere Real Estate

to generate cash to re-invest in real estate,” Rynd said.

“That may be an investment property, a second home, or a new primary residence in a community they love, like the Methow Valley, “he said. “With stock values down ... the number of cash buyers and the amount of cash they have to invest has also fallen.”


For buyers who need to finance a home, rising interest rates in 2022, which reached 7% toward the end of the year, created sticker shock and are expected to contribute to a slowdown in home sales nationwide this year, according to real estate market economists. In the early months of 2023, rates had dropped to the 6% range.

“We felt a pause for sure when [interest rates] were around 7%,” said Marrone. “Many buyers paused the search as homes they could afford at 3% went beyond what they could afford at 7%. Now that we are in the low 6’s and speculation is that within in a year we could be in the low 5’s, buyers at or below our median price point are poking their heads out again. Buyers who could leverage investments and buy cash also paused for a bit ... to see where the real estate market was going.”

“Since November, mortgage rates have continued to fall, and I believe we are going to see historically average interest rates by the end of summer,” Rynd said. “Many buyers that were waiting for better home pricing and lower mortgage rates are now reaching out to resume their searches. It’s an encouraging sign and I expect we

will find more eager buyer activity after our snow melts in the Methow Valley.”

The Methow Valley’s real estate market has a pronounced seasonal ebb and flow, with spring and summer bringing a lot more action in terms of listings and sales. So the real impact of interest rates on sales and prices likely won’t be known until later in the year.

“The question ... becomes whether buyers will restart their home search in the spring despite higher mortgage rates, or if sellers will have to lower prices further to entice the buyers back into the market. I believe the latter is more likely,” said David Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Realty.

Interest rates are low in comparison to a 20-year cycle, said Bob Monetta, owner/broker of Windermere Methow Valley Real Estate.

“Lower interest rates will help

the first-time home buyer and the local buyer most,” he said. “Out-ofarea buyers have higher down payments and usually higher incomes and are not affected as much.”


Real estate sales last year saw an increase of 8% in overall sales dollar volume in the Methow Valley, although the number of sales were 14% lower than the previous year, according to a report on the 2022 real estate market compiled by Windermere Real Estate.

The majority of single family home sales in the Methow Valley occurred in the $500,000-$700,000 range, while luxury home sales (above $800,000) increased 31%, according to the Windermere report.

Local brokers describe a “correction” in prices of homes recently listed for sale. “We’ve seen a

flattening of home prices and I expect that to continue for the next 12 to 18 months,” said Rynd. “Many sellers were perhaps too aggressive in listing their homes for more than they were realistically worth in the past year. Now were seeing ‘corrections’ to those prices more than we’re seeing real price drops.”

Rynd said he hopes that the next year will bring “a new equilibrium as home prices flatten or stabilize and interest rates also stabilize, with declines coming toward the end of 2023. Many industry leaders are hoping for more balance in real estate.”

“List prices are starting more conservatively this year for sure,” Marrone said. “This is not exact math, but I estimate about a 10% correction from last year. This is a dip in the curve, but the trend is still up.”

That upward trend in prices pushed the median home price in the valley at the end of 2022 to $640,000. In 2021 the median home price was $500,000; in 2020 it was $420,000; and in 2019 it was $360,000, according to Blue Sky Real Estate figures.

Land prices showed similar upward trends, almost doubling over the same period. At the end of 2022 the median land price was $208,000; in 2021 it was $175,000; in 2020 it was $115,000; and in 2019 it was $105,000.


As prices have soared in recent years, it has become difficult or impossible for many local residents to buy property — a growing source of community concern and a problem for local employers who

Methow Home 2023 19
Overall sales volume by category

are struggling to find and keep employees who are priced out of the housing market.

“Up to about 2018, it was realistic for many locals to own homes in the valley, especially if they were dual income,” Marrone said. “The median house price in 2018 was $319,000. Unless you have been able to double your income since 2018 — with a current median sale price of $640,000 — you aren’t buying a home.”

A study of the Methow Valley economy released in 2022 by TwispWorks found that the valley is undergoing a “rural restructuring” as a result of growth fueled by “amenity migration” — the influx of people in search of community and lifestyle. These well-financed newcomers have competed for scarce properties, driving up prices and shattering sales records.

Almost one-third of the valley’s residents were working remotely the economic study found, and their annual income was almost four times the median yearly income ($57,779) of families that live and work in the Methow Valley.

The influx of remote workers has changed the valley forever, said Delene Monetta, owner/broker of Windermere Methow Valley Real Estate. The transformation of the valley into a so-called zoom town “is old news now. The zoomies are here to stay,” she said.

“Affordability will remain a significant challenge, as long as demand for homes exceeds supply,” said Rynd. “Coldwell Banker is very supportive of the work being done by Methow Valley Housing Trust to provide more affordable housing units. We hope to see more support from Okanogan

Methow Valley News 20
area 2021 vs. 2022 FIBERGLASS INSULATION GARAGE DOORS SEAMLESS GUTTERS SPRAY FOAM INSULATION By INSTALLED SALES (509) 486 - 2624 Installed Insulation Installed Seamless Gutters Installed Spray Foam Serving the Methow Valley and surrounding areas since 2005 Call John at Bonded Certi ed Insured Licensed ALLVAVI945DC (509) 486-2624 ALL VALLEY INSULATION Installed Garage Doors
Personal & Business Taxes, Bookkeeping, Payroll, Consulting 309 N. Methow Valley Hwy Suite C Twisp, WA 98856 (509) 760-8318
Overall sales volume by
Kyley Port, CPA
wildlife habitat, farmland, and trails. Preserving possibilities for a ordable homes close to town.
Want to advertise in our magazines? LET US KNOW! advertising@ 509-997-7011

‘ARTistry in Mazama’ is theme for 2023 Methow Valley Home Tour

The creativity and artistry of home designers and builders will be on full display for the 20th annual Methow Valley Home Tour, presented by The Confluence: Art in Twisp on July 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The eight homes on the 2023 Home Tour feature the variety of architectural styles, building materials, sizes and values that can be found in and around the community of Mazama.

Among the homes featured, attendees will be treated to touring a “Gear Loft” that allows its owners maximum recreation time directly from their door, a Lost River Road home reimagined and remodeled, and one of the eight homes in the Methow Housing Trust’s McKinney Ridge neighborhood.

Along with the ARTistry of these homes, The Confluence is pleased to additionally feature works of art on the tour, as pieces by local and regional artists will be showcased in several tour houses.

Tour tickets are available now through Brown Paper Tickets, or at The Confluence from June 15 to July 8. All attendees must pick up their wristbands and tour guides at The Confluence prior to the tour. Tickets and wristbands will also be available for purchase on the day of the tour, July 8, from 9a.m.-noon at the Mazama Store. Participants should be 12 years of age or older.

Tickets are $30 per person; or $25 per person for carpool of four or more; or $25 per bicycle. Touring by bicycle and carpooling are strongly encouraged.

Photo by Benj Drummond

Making the Methow Valley ‘home’

Cultivating forever relationships with people and places

It’s easy to fall in love with the Methow Valley. But like any relationship, the bond with this place and the people who inhabit it must be thoughtfully tended.

As people who call this valley home, we can best nurture the place we live by understanding how the choices we make impact other living beings here — plants, animals, and other humans, both past and present.


For thousands of years, the Methow Valley has been home to a rich diversity of species. It is one of the few remaining places in the lower 48 with almost all of its original predators and prey present. From three species of endangered salmon that spawn in the Methow’s rivers to elusive lynx and wolverines, to the cheery Arrowleaf Balsamroot that brighten hillsides in the spring, this valley is evidence that nature thrives and endures.

The Methow Valley has not stayed wild and pastoral by accident. Most of those who are drawn to the Methow Valley cite its incredible beauty and wildness as a primary attribute. Whether we are recreating in the backcountry or landscaping our own backyards, it’s

important to consider our impact on the places the wild critters call home. And in the age of social media, it’s critical to resist over-sharing the secret, secluded spots that these animals depend on.


Some 13,000 years ago the last of the Missoula floods swept across eastern Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge. Glaciologists estimate that the glaciers in the Methow Valley were up to a mile deep. The First People of the Methow Valley have stories about the great flood and its impacts.

For hundreds of generations, the Methow Valley has been the home of the Methow People: sp aƛmul əxʷəxʷ (“blunt hills around a low valley”). When the first white settlers arrived in the Methow Valley in the late 1800s, the area was part of the Moses-Columbia Reservation, formed in 1879.

When the Moses-Columbia Reservation was dissolved in 1884, most of the Methow People were forcibly relocated to the area east and south of present-day Omak,

Methow Valley News
Photo courtesy of the Methow Conservancy

becoming one of the 12 tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Others in this diaspora refused to enter the reservations and simply stayed or dispersed in the region. Even today, many Methow Tribal families maintain a consistent presence in this valley.

We are grateful for the Methow People’s careful stewarding of this land and hope to learn from their example. But there is still much to be done to ensure Methow Descendants feel welcomed on their homeland. By learning more about their history and presence today you can help honor this valley as their home.


Prior to acquiring horses, the Methow People lived in the valley year-round, overwintering in bermed pit houses and moving to teepees in seasonal camps in the warmer months. Once they acquired horses in the 1700s, most Indigenous People spent winters in

warmer areas.

In the late 1800s, as the Methow People lost access to their ancestral territory under an agreement that was negotiated without their consent, settlers, trappers, fur traders, loggers, farmers, ranchers, and miners began homesteading

throughout the Methow Valley. For much of the 20th century, the Methow Valley remained hard to reach and was, thus, sparsely inhabited and lightly visited. With the opening of the North Cascades Highway in 1972, however, the Methow Valley became connected

to the western side of the state, allowing a wider swath of tourists to visit — and fall in love with — the Methow Valley.


Over the past 40 years, dozens of mountain towns around the American West were “discovered,” changing seemingly overnight from know-your-neighbor cozy communities to places where the local work force could no longer afford to live. Townhouses bloomed on hillsides around town centers; workers began to bus in from neighboring communities.

Although the Methow Valley has seen unprecedented growth in the past five years — with housing prices up more than 50% — it is still possible to chart a course for the future that includes local workers being able to continue to afford to live in the valley.

Most mountain communities like ours don’t get the opportunity to prioritize housing that is affordable for people who live and work locally. The Methow Valley does.

Methow Home 2023 25
Bear Creek Lumber Helping To Make Dreams Come True Since 1977 Our knowledgable sales staf and customer service experts are here to assist you with ALL of your lumber needs. Contact Us Today 800.597.7191 Our team of full-service brokers are backed by a trusted brand and top-notch marketing tools. Combined with our knowledge of the valley and market, we are your Local Real Estate Experts. Windermere Real Estate METHOW VALLEY 313 E. Methow Valley HWY Twisp, WA 98856 509-997-6562 MAZAMA BRANCH 42 Lost River Rd. Mazama, WA 98833 509-996-6562 Local
Photo courtesy of the Methow Conservancy


Housing that is affordable so that people who live and work in the Methow Valley can stay is vital to the Methow Conservancy’s work. As a conservation organization, we are dedicated to inspiring people to care for the land of the Methow Valley and we think this happens most effectively when people have the opportunity to form profound connections with places by living in them and becoming familiar with their rhythms and attributes.

We believe that the Methow Valley can forge an innovative path forward for rural mountain towns by embracing not only the valley’s wildlife habitat, agricultural legacy, and recreational values, but also its people and the importance of community members being able to live where they work.

The Methow Conservancy’s efforts to sustain a rural way of life have always supported clustering development close to towns. Promoting necessary growth in areas where development already exists


Building for the future

Efforts to address the Methow Valley’s pressing housing issue include:

• The Housing Solutions Network, a consortium of 12 organizations, focuses on affordable housing concerns and solutions in the valley.

• The Methow Housing Trust’s construction of 26 permanently affordable homes, with another 48 to be completed by 2030, have allowed educators, servers, bakers, health care providers and retail workers to become homeowners (

• The Okanogan Housing Authority’s plans to build 22 units of multi-family housing near Winthrop addresses low-income housing needs (www.

• Methow at Home’s partnership with Silvernest matches homeowners with tenants

— rather than dispersing it widely across a landscape — preserves desired open spaces and scenic views in the surrounding environments, such as riparian zones,


• Jamie’s Place Adult Family Home received a Game Changer Grant from the Methow Valley Fund to purchase two tiny homes to provide caregiver lodging (

• Some residents are building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to rent to a local resident; others have converted their ADUs from nightly rentals to long-term rentals. Still others have restructured their homes to provide a long-term rental space to locals.

• The Methow Conservancy encourages clustering residential development near towns. Conservation easements held by the Methow Conservancy preserve the Methow Valley’s rural landscape by protecting important wildlife habitat, by supporting its agricultural heritage, and by preserving opens spaces, scenic views and public access.

agricultural fields.

The Methow Valley economy and our health as a community depend on housing availability and affordability. When communities are not inhabited by the people who work

in them, the essential character of those communities — the intimacy and neighborly atmosphere that make them so unique and special — begins to erode. Our community is strongest when it is anchored by


Methow Valley News 26 CONNECTING

a strong local work force, comprised of people who are invested and engaged in the economic, social and environmental well-being of the Methow Valley.

The Methow Conservancy is an active participant in seeking solutions to mitigate the housing crisis in the Methow Valley — and our current endeavor to purchase the land known as Sunny M Ranch provides an opportunity to make our vision a reality.

Our expertise is in land conservation, not neighborhood development, so we intend to best leverage our resources and experience by making a piece of land near the Town of Winthrop available for a small neighborhood, which will be developed by others into housing that will be affordable for people who work in the Methow Valley.

The type and mix of housing will be informed by the Winthrop and Twisp Housing Action Plans, the availability of water, infrastructure costs, public comment, the interested partners, and other factors.

It is important to note that we recognize that we can’t solve all the housing problems in the Methow Valley with the Sunny M property. We see this land as helping to play a role in the larger efforts to address the Methow Valley’s pressing housing issue. (To learn more about this effort, visit sunnym).


Although it sometimes feels like paradise, the truth is, life in the Methow Valley is not a fairy tale. Economic and environmental struggles are real here. You can help sustain the Methow Valley’s rural character and the Methow way of life, but you need to lean into it. Here are a few ways you can engage with, learn about, and invest in our shared home and its history:

• Learn about the First People who made the Methow Valley their home (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation,

• Visit the Methow Valley

Interpretive Center in Twisp to learn more about the human and natural history of the Methow Valley. (

• Tour Homestream Park in Winthrop, which was created to honor the rivers and fish of the Methow Valley and the Native people, both past and present, who have called this place home for thousands of years (www.homestreampark. com).

• Read about Hummingbird (x ʷnámx ʷnam), which is 328 acres of ancestral land that was recently returned to the Methow People ( entry/faq_land_justice).

• Visit the Shafer Museum in Winthrop to learn more about the Methow Valley from the 1880s to the 1940s (www.shafermuseum. org).

• Read more about the Methow Valley’s economy in the TwispWorks Economic Study (www.

• Get familiar with the Methow Conservancy’s State of the Methow data collection project ( state-of-the-methow).

• Protect our dark skies by using only the lighting you need, aiming lights down, and using timers and/ or motion sensors (

• Learn about all of the Methow Valley’s nonprofits and find one (or more) that inspire you (

• The Methow Conservancy’s new Good Neighbor Handbook ( goodneighbor) shares an ethic about living thoughtfully with wildlife, with neighbors, and with the community.

The Methow Valley has a long history of coming together in innovative and sincere ways to overcome shared challenges and struggles. We, as a community, participate, learn, think deeply, and collaborate. We know that loving a place means taking action to care for it and each other. We hope you will enjoy digging in and learning more about the plants, animals, and people who also call this valley home. Welcome!

97.5 fm

Methow Home 2023 27

Celebrating the dark times

There are many ways to protect the Methow’s pristine skies

The Methow Valley is one of the best places in the country to stargaze. Given our dark pristine night sky we can easily observe the Milky Way, the wispy galactic spiral arms and dust clouds, the tireless travels of the plants, periodic visitations by comets, annual meteor showers, the aurora borealis and more — most with the naked eye.

Unfortunately, these amazing views of the vast universe we live in are increasingly threatened by growing light pollution.

Satellite images show 99% of the United States population are unable to experience a natural night sky. A citizen science program involving more than 50,000 observations from volunteers around the world found the brightness of the night sky increased by about 10% a year in North America for the last decade.

This means that the background brightness doubles in seven short years and washes out a significant number of stars. Left unchecked, in a few years residents of Winthrop and much of the Methow Valley will no longer be able to see the Milky Way. The good news is that by making a few small and affordable changes, home and business owners can reverse light pollution affects in the Methow Valley.


In addition to preserving our amazing dark skies, there are many other reasons to implement smart lighting practices.

Using smart lighting practices improves everyone’s health. A recent study by WSU Spokane Sleep and Performance Center found nighttime exposure to LED and other blue-spectrum lighting suppresses melatonin

and increases risks for diabetes, cancer and a multitude of other chronic conditions. The American Medical Association recommends shielding all outdoor light fixtures and only using warm lights with Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) of 3,000K or less.

Artificial light at night, especially blue lights, is not only harmful to human health and safety, but also harms wildlife. Bright lights disrupt bird migration patterns, and the feeding and mating cycles of insects, bats, fish and salamanders. Bright lights interrupt the predator/prey relationship, creating an imbalance in the ecosystem. Owls will go elsewhere if an area is overly lit at night.

“If we want to see animal life during the day, we need to control light pollution at night,” said Kyrie Jardin, president of the Methow Dark Sky Coalition.

Smart lighting at night reduces energy consumption and costs. Light at night is expensive, and drains economic resources. Satellite images of Earth show light emissions spreading into outer space, wasted to the tune of $3 billion a year in the United States. By using timers, motion sensors, lower wattage and shields, smart home owners can reduce their energy consumption while also reducing light pollution. Safety is a common reason people

Methow Valley News
Photo by Steve Mitchell

want outdoor lighting but more lights do not mean more safety. Bright lights on the blue spectrum cause night blindness. A safer choice is to use soft yellow light and only light the areas needed. This is enough to enable someone to continue to see past the light cast.

There is an optimum level of lighting for safety. Dean Kurath, Methow Dark Skies board member and longtime Methow Valley resident, sees bobcats wander near his house in the middle of the day — demonstrating that outdoor night lights are unlikely to deter the bobcat’s route. The only time Kurath experienced a home burglary was when he lived in a brightly lit apartment complex.

For some land areas, the Okanogan County zoning code states that outdoor lighting “shall be directed downward and shielded to minimize potential glare to motorists and off-site residents. No exterior light with a direct source visible from a neighboring property shall be installed. Indirect sources and horizontal cut-off fixtures are recommended to reduce glare and

Recommendations and resources

Here in the Methow Valley, we are among the remaining few who still have a view of the Milky Way on a clear moonless night.

The Methow Dark Sky Coalition urges people to protect our night sky with environmentally responsible lighting by following International Dark-Sky Association guidelines for outdoor lighting:

• Only be on when needed.

• Only light the area that needs it.

• Be no brighter than necessary.

• Minimize blue light emissions.

• Be fully shielded.

By using timers, motion sensors, lower wattage,

provide general ambient light.”

In addition, the town of Winthrop implemented an outdoor lighting ordinance in 2021 and most homeowners associations have covenants that address outdoor lighting.


To address light pollution in the Methow Valley the Methow Dark Sky Coalition was formed in 2017 with a mission to “To Preserve,

and shields, smart home owners can reduce their energy consumption while also reducing light pollution. Be a good neighbor by protecting our dark skies. Here are some valuable resources:

• Methow Dark Sky Coalition,

• International Dark-Sky Association, darksky. org.

• Home Lighting Assessment:,

• Lighting guidelines, fixtures, retailers, www.

Enhance, and Promote Dark Skies in the Methow Valley.” The nonprofit organization is based in Winthrop, with President Kyrie Jardin and five officers.

Jardin explains the group’s origins: “It all began about eight years ago when about 200 supporters of a dark sky philosophy became concerned about a proposal to install a rotating spotlight at the Methow Valley state airport. Similarly, about four years ago the Bonneville Power

Administration gifted the local electric co-op multiple LED lights for distribution to the public, and within a week, the Town of Winthrop began receiving multiple complaints about bright lights … Winthrop had no outdoor lighting ordinance. That began an organizational effort to not only limit artificial lighting, but to encourage the appreciation of our amazing night sky view of the cosmos.”

The Methow Dark Sky Coalition

Methow Home 2023 29
2 0 6 2 5 6 9 8 8 6

follows the recommendations of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to educate the community on the impacts of artificial light and how to reduce light pollution through smart lighting practices.

Guidelines from the IDA for outdoor lighting are intended for homeowners, designers and contractors planning new construction or a remodel. If a home is located on a ridgeline or hillside, exterior lighting has an outsized impact on the on the valley below. Bright interior lights will cast light pollution through unblinded windows.


• Use light only when needed. Use timers or motion detectors to control how often and what times a light illuminates an area. The shrubberies do not need to be lit up at all hours of the night. The easiest approach is to get in the habit of turning lights off when not in use.

• Only light the area that needs it. Avoid floodlights from a great height or lights that angle outward and instead install smaller lights

closer to the ground in areas that need illumination such as walkways, doorways and driveways. Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop uses this practice with beautiful and effective results.

• Be no brighter than necessary. Use the lowest practical wattage. As bulbs need replaced, look for lower wattage and yellow spectrum. These choices will help preserve our dark skies and save money on bulbs and the electric bill.

• Minimize blue light emissions. Blue light brightens the night sky more than any other color of light and is harmful to human health and ecological systems. All bulb packaging provides color temperature information. Look for lights with a warm color temperature of 3,000K or lower.

• Be fully shielded. If a bulb is visible, it creates night blindness and light trespass. Always fully shield outdoor lights to direct light downward. When designing a new home or a remodel, consider recessed lighting.

Winthrop Ace Hardware, Valley Hardware Do It Center and Methow

Valley Lumber in Twisp stock dark sky friendly light fixtures and lights. Local businesses and will special order items if requested. The IDA website provides information on the dark sky fixture seal of approval program and dark sky retailers and provides information on over 1,000 dark sky friendly lighting fixtures for residential and business applications, https://www. Be a good neighbor and a smart home owner by implementing small choices to protect our dark skies and the environment, while reducing energy consumption and light pollution.

Additional information on lighting and dark skies can be found at Methow Dark Sky, methowdarksky. org, and the IDA, Contact the local Methow Dark Sky group at for more information on dark skies and technical assistance with lighting.

This article includes contributions from Dean Kurath, Methow Dark Sky Coalition.

Methow Valley News 30

A ‘people place’ by design

The Mazama Public House was conceived with community in mind

If you want, you can spiral down an internet rabbit hole seeking to distinguish a “public house” from a “bar” or a “tavern” or a “restaurant.” You’ll get different answers, depending on the source.

But if you consider a “public house” from the perspective of its etymological roots (essentially “populus/poplicus/publicus” — “of the people”), you’ll learn that its inclusion in the name of Mazama’s new bar and eatery captures the spirit of the place perfectly.

It was, after all, in the interest of bringing the public — the community — together that the idea for the Mazama Public House was hatched.

“Mazama never really had a reliable place to gather at night, to

have a beer, get something to eat, listen to music,” said Bill Pope, the primary investor and point person for the 35-investor Mazama-centric consortium called Grumpy Goats LLC, which took the Mazama Public House from idle talk to bustling establishment.

“There were occasionally events at the Mazama Community Club and of course the Mazama Store does an awesome job, but they’re never open late. There’s been a need for nightlife in Mazama.”

Most folks in Mazama agreed,

Methow Home 2023 31
Photos courtesy of CAST Architecture

Pope said, “but no one knew how to do it or if it could be done economically and successfully.”

It was, paradoxically, the global event that shut down dining establishments for months that ended up laying the foundation for the Mazama Public House.

“There was a silver lining to COVID,” Pope said. “There were even more people than normal living in the upper valley. The consensus was that if we were ever going to develop this pub, it was a good time to try to light the fuse.”


The members of Grumpy Goats LLC knew that they didn’t want to run the pub. Pope, a former attorney for Microsoft and until recently co-owner of the Mazama Country Inn, is all-too familiar with the hospitality industry and knows that he didn’t want to become a

pub operator.

“It’s one thing to build it, but it’s an entirely different thing to manage it,” Pope said. “If there had been anyone else who wanted to build it and run it, we would have deferred. But no one stepped up.”

So Pope went to Jacob Young, co-owner of Old Schoolhouse Brewery (OSB), with locations in Winthrop and Twisp. “It was a logical step to bring in OSB,” Pope said. “We love their product and they seem to have it figured out pretty well at their other locations. It was a natural thing to turn to them.”

Fortunately, OSB agreed to operate the Mazama Public House, because that is the only way the Grumpy Goats would let the project take flight. They had an operator; now they needed a building.

As former board president of the Methow Housing Trust, Pope was

familiar with CAST Architecture, a Seattle-based architecture firm with a portfolio of residential and commercial spaces throughout the Methow Valley. CAST build the Housing Trust’s first neighborhood, on Canyon Street in Twisp.

“Coincidentally, Stefan [Hampden, principal at CAST] had a home in Mazama and one of his partners had designed the North Cascades Mountain Guides building next door. We wanted to design [the pub] to be in harmony with what was already there, so CAST made sense,” Pope said. CAST also put some skin in the game, becoming one of the investors in the project.

The Grumpy Goats formed a sub-committee of people who worked with CAST on the design of the public house, Pope said. “It went through several iterations, and we changed both the size and the orientation of the building, but

we finally got it.”


Of thinking about big-picture features of designing a public gathering space Hampden said, “In some ways it’s kind of similar to the public space of a house. Obviously a house is more ‘refuge’ and a pub is more ‘prospect ’— welcoming people in — but the overall goal is to create a space that makes people feel at home and — in Mazama especially — opens up to the landscape that we all love.”

The location of the Mazama Public House presented some challenges, as it is sandwiched between Goat Creek Road and the Mazama Corral parking lot. The views across the road are wooded, but the soaring rocky cliffs of Flagg Mountain command respect, and it made sense to orient the pub toward the views.

Methow Valley News 32

To mitigate the visual impact of the parking area, CAST elevated the pub above ground level, which, according to Hampden, invites a view looking over the tops of the cars toward the mountains, as well as creating a snow skirt for the foundation in the winter.

Benches with solid backs as well as planters serve as screening devices, shielding pub guests from headlights. “It dissipates the fact that there is parking out there,” Hampden said. “The sight lines remain above the parking.”

Built by Bjornsen Construction, the Mazama Public House takes full advantage of the stunning outdoor vistas visible from its main indoor dining area, as well as from its patio space. Full-height, insulated, garage-style doors open up, “changing the boundary between inside and out,” Hampden said. Calling windows “borrowed space,” Hampden said that the garage-style doors “dissolve the wall and allow indoor-outdoor to happen.”

“Anyone who has spent time at the Mazama Store knows how the

Methow Home 2023 33
855.784.8328 | | 509.997.0100 | 140 W. Twisp Ave. gourmet breakfast included, smiles guaranteed! top-notch hospitality riverfront luxury suites full kitchens deep soaker tubs fireplaces live entertainment, beer and wine separate, pet-friendly units close to recreation, dining and shopping “ ” Home Suite Home… Condos now for Sale!

outdoor space energizes a business,” Hampden said, referring to the Mazama Store’s fabulous enclosed patio. “It makes a business feel like a place where you can hang out casually, you can come off the trail and greet friends, stay for a beer. It gives the pub this great open feel where people meet up in the outdoors and then extend that to gather to eat and drink

together in a similar environment.” Hampden said that the long family-style tables in the Mazama Public House were part of the vision from the very beginning. “It is a public house, not a restaurant or bar,” he said. “The long communal tables were always indicative of the way we were thinking about the place. You come in and you’re part of the community. You

share a table and suddenly you’re in conversation with a person you’ve never met before. It’s a fun opportunity.”

The pub’s name, Hampden said, came out of the realization that a “public house” was exactly what the group was trying to create. “It embodied what we were all seeking out of the project,” Hampden said.


If you know Mazama, you’ve seen it evolve from an isolated agricultural hamlet to a COVID refuge for urban remote workers. How did CAST balance Mazama’s pastoral roots with its increasingly upscale present?

Hamden said, “Part of the way we’ve approached design in Brooks Middleton Architect

Methow Valley News 34
We have it! Service and a lot more! Monday - Friday 7 am - 5:30 pm & Saturday 8 am - 4 pm Hwy 20 across from Hank’s • 997-0720 • Pipe • Electrical • Septic • Culvert Plumbing • Pumps • Lawn & Garden • Irrigation • Stoves Farm & Ranch • Animal Feeds & Pet Foods We’re more than just a pipe store

Mazama is to use materials that have an honesty to them. Expose the wood, expose the concrete. There’s a humbleness in using materials in a way that isn’t overly precious but which celebrates the material for what it is.”

Hampden refers to a huge slab of fir claimed from investor Lee Whittaker’s Mazama property, used for the bar, accent shelving, and tables. “It’s a celebration of Douglas fir as a regional source of material,” he said.

He also addressed the pub’s design in terms of response to climate. “With hot summers and snowy winters, you want deep overhangs and shed roofs. They give you an easy way to access the building in the winter and they provide shade in the summer, as well as convenient options for outdoor space in the shoulder seasons. You design in a way that makes sense as a response to the place you’re building in.”

All that concrete, however, runs the risk of being loud and echoey. “It was a huge concern early on,” Hampden agrees. “Concrete is excellent for ease and durability, but the flip side is that it is bright and loud.”

Hampden noted that flat surfaces — whether wood or concrete — are the worst for acoustics. Inside the pub, the Douglas fir ceiling boards are backed by wool acoustic felt and are spaced at 1-inch intervals.

“It creates a cavity with deadening material inside,” Hampden said.

“It’s a technique that gets used in commercial projects like airports — you’ve seen those perforated wood panels and spaced decking. I’ve observed it in other projects. It employs basic engineering principles. I’ve never done it before myself, but I was delighted to see it work as it is supposed to.”

The result is that a band can play in the pub and the sound doesn’t preclude conversation and interaction.


Both Pope and Hampden agree that the most rewarding aspect of the Mazama Public House project is that, as Hampden said, “It came out of a vision for the community, not from a developer, not from a business plan. It was a local vision, with a huge consortium of local investors.”

Hampden acknowledged the critical role of the 34 other investors, but said that Pope has “put in a huge amount of his own time into making this happen. Bill has made Mazama feel like a more dynamic and livable place by creating this second, public space for people to inhabit. It has the potential to change the feeling of the community here.”

Hampden concluded, “The Mazama Public House will be valued in the community for a long time.”

Methow Home 2023 35
997-0082 997-0082 Serving the Methow Valley for over 40 years. Serving the Methow Valley for 40 years. Lic.#BBEXCI*OOOPL B & B Excavating, Inc. B & B Excavating, Inc. Backhoe • Dozer Dump Truck Excavator *Sand & Gravel *Ecology Blocks *Well Rings & Precast *Road Dust Control SAND & GRAVEL CONCRETE READY-MIX • 54 Horizon Flat Rd, Winthrop 509-996-2435 CASCADE CONCRETE Serving The Methow Valley Since 1977 Concrete, Boom & Dump Truck Delivery to your site CRUSHED GRAVEL FOR DRIVEWAYS Spread on your road or in a pile! • PRODUCTS *Concrete Color & Sealer *Landscape Rock *Stucco Supplies *Snow Removal
Methow Valley News 36

An eco-friendly feast for the senses

Bringing your landscape to life

Awell-designed landscape is the perfect complement to any house, integrating it with its surroundings and providing comfortable, refreshing spaces for outdoor living.

While they delight your senses, carefully chosen plantings can also support the systems that keep the valley’s natural environment healthy.


Deepening your understanding of your land will help you choose plants that beautify your surroundings, thrive where they’re planted, reduce wildfire risk, and contribute to environmental

function. Temperature, soil type, precipitation and snow load can all affect plant choices. Each of those factors varies depending on latitude, altitude and other factors specific to each site.

Your general location in the

Methow Home 2023 37
Blanket flower provides food and shelter for beneficial insects, and brilliant color in the garden.

valley can give you a broad-brush picture of climate characteristics as a guide to what will thrive.

On your land and around your house, look for micro-climates and habitats — sun and shade; swales where moisture will gather; the direction of the prevailing wind.

The more time you invest in observing and getting to know your home territory, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the right plant for each location.


In a wildfire hazard zone like the Methow Valley, it’s important

to create defensible space around structures — including your house, outbuildings, decks and fences. Plant placement and species choices can reduce risk; so can keeping the landscape close to your house well irrigated.

Some of the plants that define the valley’s landscape can act as accelerants. The resins that make sagebrush, bitterbrush, ponderosa pine and snowbrush ceanothus aromatic also provide extra fuel for fire. They are super-flammable species that don’t belong close to or just downslope of your house.

See the Firewise article by the

Okanogan Conservation District on page 47 for more information on fire-adapted living.


The Methow Valley is home to

Washington state’s largest migratory mule deer population. Deer move with the seasons and relocate in the course of each day as they seek food, water and shelter. Leaving travel corridors open helps

Methow Valley News 38
Common throughout the Methow Valley, snowberry is a great multitasker, offering food and shelter to birds, insects and mammals. Photo courtesy of U. S. Forest Service
Co nt r ac tor# SCH UL E L962N B
Washington wildflowers support at least two dozen species of native bumblebees and hundreds of species of other wild bees; the bees return the favor by pollinating the flowers.
Building high efficiency custom homes in the Methow Valley since 1997.

support a healthy population. Deer bring beauty, mystery and wildness to the land outside our doors. They can also damage and destroy plants, especially young ones. Some plants are less palatable than others, but few if any species are truly deer-proof.

Newly-planted shrubs, perennials and grasses, and trees under 4 feet tall, are likely to need protection. You can find valuable information about living with deer at https:// living/species-facts/deer#; click “Preventing Conflicts” for detailed

instructions on creating fences and temporary enclosures to protect plants while they become established.


Native plants are adapted to local conditions, and many will

thrive with little or no supplemental water once they’ve become established. They also support native bees, butterflies, birds, and other valuable insects and wildlife, which help keep our ecosystems intact and functional. As natural landscapes become

Methow Home 2023 39
Photo courtesy of USFWS National Digital Library One of the Methow Valley’s choicest wild fruits, serviceberry is an important food source for birds and mammals, who eat the fruit and distribute the seeds.
TACKMAN SURVEYING PLLC 119 Glover Street in Twisp 509.996.3409 119 Glover Street in Twisp 509.996.3409 Inspired design begins with you. 206.262.0820 |
Photo courtesy of U. S. Forest Service Rabbitbrush is a valuable late-season food source for native insects, including colorful checkerspot butterflies.

more fragmented in the face of climate change, drought and wildfire, the contributions of cultivated lands are increasingly critical to maintaining diverse populations of plants and the life they support. To create a landscape that combines beauty and ecological value, consider choosing plants that will provide:

• Steady bloom from spring through fall. Flowers provide pollen that’s collected by native bees, and nectar to feed bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. And they feed dozens of other beneficial insects that help control pest populations. Keeping flowers

blooming in your garden ensures a steady supply of food for wild pollinators.

• Fruit and seeds as long as possible. Wild birds and mammals depend on berries and other wild fruit. Fruit and seeds that stay on the plant through the winter are a boon to birds and small mammals.

• Shelter. Plants give birds, insects and small mammals places to rest, nest and hide.

• Host plants that feed insect larvae. Caterpillars may chew some leaves, but they are also food for baby birds, and will become butterflies and moths later in the season.

Methow Valley News 40
Jim Wright • (509) 997-0900 Lic.#JAMESWC972JN Complete Excavation Services • Roads • Utilities Water & Sewer System Installation • Site Preparation We specialize in Septic Design and Installation “Full Service the Wright Way” 33 Years serving the Methow Valley Dustin Howard 360.317.6757 Residential Design • Permitting • Consulting S TRUCTURES D ESIGNED F OR T HE M ETHOW
Photo courtesy of U. S. Forest Service Hummingbirds, butterflies and moths feed on Western Columbine nectar, pollinating the flowers as they go.

Partnering in preservation

Architects and builder used surplus materials to create ‘Hugg Hut’

In the architectural world, building materials typically follow an architect’s design, but for one local architectural firm, the process was reversed for an unusual project.

The architects at Twisp-based Serious Fun Studio were asked to design a workshop, storage space and carport from surplus materials. If that sounds like a setup for a competition reality show, it is not, but rather a collaboration between two friends — one a builder and the other an architect.

When Chris Huggins, a Seattle builder, needed a workshop/ storage/carport on his property in Mazama, he turned to his friend Kit Kollmeyer, who runs

the architectural firm Serious Fun Studio with his wife, Samantha Kollmeyer. When Kit and Sam worked in Seattle, Huggins built a house Kit designed.

Huggins had some supplies left over from a project he did five years ago that included marine grade plywood and timbers from a custom mill order that required a minimum quantity.

“For my entire career, I have always tried to salvage and re-use materials as things come up,” said

Methow Home 2023 41
Photos courtesy of Serious Fun Studio The Mazama workshop, storage space and carport built with leftover materials.


“You kind of have to be a hoarder, a little bit,” said Kit Kollmeyer. “It’s hard not to look at a leftover beam and think, that’s useful, I could use that somewhere, but they often end up sitting outside for years. I appreciate that Chris actually had something to do with it. We haven’t had a project other than that one where someone came to us and said, ‘here’s a material list, what can you design from the material list?’ It’s really unique. Usually it’s a blank slate, what’s right for the site.”

“It’s a fun process for us, because the builders know what they want,” he added. “We also like helping people realize their dreams for their home but it’s unique to work with a contractor who understands what you’re talking about. They internalize how it’s going to be built while you’re working through it and they’re always thinking about ideas.”


A year prior to this project, Huggins built an artist studio for his

wife entirely using leftover materials. The marine grade plywood on the ceiling in the workshop is typically very expensive plywood.

Huggins estimates that he saved 50% on materials to build the workshop and 90% on the art studio by using recycled materials.

When the Hugg Hut, as the Kollmeyers lovingly call it, was ready to be built, Huggins provided an opportunity to lead the project to a young carpenter, Lucas Troutman, who wanted to hone his carpentry skills. Huggins knew Troutman because he was in his son’s Boy Scout troop.

“Knowing that Lucas was here and he wanted to be a carpenter, my husband said, ‘Lucas, this is going to be your project,’” said Huggins’ wife, Mylen Huggins.

Troutman built the shed with fellow Boy Scout and a Huggins employee in Seattle, Jack Taylor, along with Huggins’ two sons.

“It was too much to do myself in a timely fashion and I had the chance to help some younger guys starting out in the industry,” said Huggins. “The plan and approach was deliberately simple and conventional but still depended on very close attention to accuracy and alignment.”

The workshop has two sliding floor-to-ceiling doors that glide at 90-degree angles away from each

Methow Valley News 42
JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS SEATTLE + TWISP MethowValleyHomeTour SatJuly8,2023 ARTistryinMazama
A leftover bean was used in the project.

other, creating an open corner. The corner provides ample space to load and unload. It also provides an indoor-outdoor work environment in the summer.

A carport adjacent to the workshop serves its main function — to keep snow off —without sacrificing valuable space in the workshop. A sleek storage unit houses Huggins’ tools.

By placing the storage unit and carport outside of the workshop, all of the 650 square feet of open space in the workshop is available for project work. “Chris gets a lot of inspiration from houses that he builds in Seattle,” said Mylen Huggins.


“We really love working with contractors because they have great ideas and they know how to build things,” said Kit Kollmeyer. “Working with Chris made it easy.”

Kollmeyer has a unique perspective as an architect because he grew up building houses with his

father. He is also a woodworker. That background has informed his designs and his approach to working with contractors. In their own studio, Kollmeyers buck the

traditional design process and incorporate input from contractors from the very beginning.

“Even if we’re working on a custom project with a client, we try to

get a contractor on board before we start design,” said Kit Kollmeyer. “That way we can get buy-off from the contractor on our entire design process … so that they’re not

Methow Home 2023 43
509-733-9083 ATI INSULATION LLC A AT T TI I I INNSSUULLAAT T TIIOON N L LLLC C ATIINSULATIONLLC P.O.Box1736Okanogan,WA98840 BPI CERTIFIED BUILDING ANALYST PROFESSIONAL Energy Efficiency Experts EnergyEfficiencyExperts Doesyourhousefeelcold? Doyourheatingbillsseem high? Doesyourhouseneedmore insulation? HeatingSystemneedinga serviceorrepair? Doyourdoorsorwindows needtoberepaired? e t h e r i z t i o n & weatherization& R E P A I R S E R V I C E S M A Y REPAIRSERVICESMAY I N C L U D E INCLUDE:: AtticInsulation&Venting WallInsulation UnderFloor/PerimeterInsulation UnderFloorGroundCover& Venting HeatingDuctsTested&Sealed AirSealingMeasuresUsing BlowerDoor PipeWrap RepairstoProtect Weatherizationmeasures ExhaustFans SafetyTests CONTACT US TODAY! COONNTTA A ACCT T U US S T TOODDAAY Y Y! CONTACTUSTODAY!! OWNER/OPERATOR:ANGELTORRES OWNER/OPERATOR:ANGELTORRES Sehablaespañol Site specific, environmentally conscious homes, designed to walk lightly on the land. Jeremy Newman 509-341-4430
By placing the storage unit and carport outside of the workshop, all of the 650 square feet in the workshop is available for project work.

receiving this plan set and saying, this isn’t what I would do here and, how am I going to do that?”

Often, an architect wouldn’t involve a contractor until the design is finished, but Kollmeyer says they are drawbacks to this model.

“If a contractor starts from the beginning, then they are invested in the project, they’ve been involved in all the client decisions so they know why a client would choose to do one thing over another,” he said. “They’ve had the ability to voice their opinions so they really feel like it’s their project and it’s not just something that they’re building. And at the end of the day, by the time we’re finished with design and it’s permitted and ready to build, we’re confident the contractor knows what they are doing.”

Kollmeyer said the contractor is also able to affect cost because they can suggest affordable materials that worked well on other projects.


The Kollmeyers also have a

unique way of working with one another so that their clients get two minds working on a project instead of one.

“When we start, Sam and I work on our own concept for the project, and we usually show our client two, three, four different unique concepts,” Kit said. “So, we don’t influence each other when we’re working on that first concept, and then we critique each other before we show the client. Once that’s set, we’re pretty fluid about who works on what part. We’re always both in on all the client meetings. We work really well together. We balance each other out.”

Sam said the name of their studio came to them during a road trip, from a quotation by one of their design heroes, Charles Eames, a prominent mid-century architect.

“Charles once said, you should ‘take your pleasure seriously,’ so it’s a play on that,” she said. “We love doing what we do and it’s fun. We take it seriously. It’s serious fun.” The carport includes storage space.

Methow Valley News 44
Contractor Lic number: DRGLAGW790C2 509-826-1728 513 Okoma Drive, Omak All your home and Auto needs! •Deck Railing •Custom shower enclosures •Windows & doors •Garage doors & openers •Glass & mirror •Auto glass *Heat Pumps & Geo- ermal Heat Pumps *New Installations & Retro ts *Duct/Ductless Systems *Heating/Air-Conditioning *Central HVAC/R System Design *24 Hour Emergency Service (509) 996-2748 License #’s: Fisher*87093, Fisher*870R3 r re frigerat ion f h er re frigerat f ish er re frigera

Hybrid neighborhoods offer a vibrant alternative

Mix of housing types exemplifies community

Housing is on everyone’s mind these days, in communities large and small around the country and here in the Methow. The pressure to increase the quantity of housing is certainly strong, but it’s worthwhile to take a look at the quality of the housing we are building from a community design perspective.

It’s easier to develop homogenous enclaves rather than “hybrid” neighborhoods that include several different housing types appealing to a wider demographic. Market forces and traditional zoning restrictions lead developers to build affordable housing where land is cheap and luxury housing where land is high-priced, and apartments, duplexes and townhouses isolated from single-family houses. Market conditions reflect the geography and topography of the land chosen for development.

Conceptually, hybrid developments include a variety of thoughtfully placed housing types.

Affordable and lower-cost housing is frequently in areas that are less desirable. They may have limited views, diminished solar access or they may be close to noise and pollution generators like airports, train tracks or busy roads. The hills above, graced with regional views and ample sunlight, tend to be developed with housing for the more affluent. We also tend to sort and partition elder housing into areas separate from other demographic groups. The “retirement

home” is frequently just down the street from the hospital or the mall and not tied to great views, parks, lakes, shorelines and other amenities, not to mention housing for other demographic groups. But there is a better way.


A both old and new vision of community reflects a more integrated model of housing. Within the walls of a medieval village, for example, most demographics

were represented. Houses varied in size and relationship to the town square, but within a short distance, a variety of housing types and a varied group of occupants were frequently present.

Today, the most forward-thinking town planning encourages a mix of housing types — hybrid housing — that mixes all types of residents from seniors to young families to singles.

Communities that have more varied housing can take advantage

Methow Home 2023 45
Sketch courtesy of Johnston Architects

of “hybrid vigor.” The work force housing down the street from the block dominated by the professional class benefit from the synergy between these groups. The elder housing, around the corner from that work force housing, might be near schools and parks.

Those in the work force benefit by proximity of jobs related to the elderly or the schools. Likewise, the elderly gain benefits from interaction with those very same institutions. They can volunteer at the school or take a walk to the park next to the small downtown. What does this mean in places like the Methow? Each of our towns holds opportunities. These can be identified as vacant lands that hold the potential to connect aspects of the community.

In Winthrop, the vacant land between Norfolk Way and the site of the new library and the Highway 20 frontage near The Barnyard Theater and East 20 Pizza is large and holds wonderful potential. It is linked by the Susie Stephens Trail, but also can be accessed from several points in the vicinity. It

could hold housing for a variety of demographics and is large enough to also include amenities for that varied housing.

In Twisp, the missing urban teeth such as the former site of The Merc Playhouse barn and the old site of the original Twisp Pub are begging for re-development. Each of these sites connects with amenities or other varied housing types.

The nearly 20 acres between the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road and the river just south of Twisp are ripe for the development of a hybrid community. That acreage could accommodate all types of uses and provide a connection between housing, public amenities and the river along its length.


If we agree that hybrid housing has intrinsic values creating rich and varied communities, then what can we do to promote this concept?

First, a willingness amongst jurisdictional authorities to find zoning solutions for complex mixes is essential. Some zones allow this kind

of mix outright, but others require a “planned development” allowing a variety of densities within the context of overlying zoning.

Second, we need to support those who are willing to work with the community to create unique and synergistic places for folks to live.

There are good examples of successful planned developments we can learn from. On the west side, Grow Communities on Bainbridge Island has succeeded in creating a vibrant, hybrid environment by mixing size and types of housing. There are flats, townhouses, duplexes and triplexes linked by paths, gardens, P-patches and other amenities.

On the outskirts of this development, three-story walk up apartments form a solid block linking access to garden courts on one side and access drives for parking on the other.

Today, in the Methow, we are lucky to have an abundance of imaginative people and organizations working on the problem, and thinking about the next steps. The stellar Methow Housing Trust

has made great strides in creating affordable housing, but also hybrid housing, mixing income-level thresholds and creating an equitable core community.

Jamie’s Place, a wonderful community asset, is hoping to expand and also to house their staff closer to work. Methow At Home provides some excellent alternatives to moving, but there is a whole cohort of seniors in the valley who are finding it hard to work the garden every year, shovel the snow or manage movement in the mud seasons and would love to live in a vibrant, close-in and age-diverse environment where community is much like family.

Our community has a great opportunity right now to be leaders and innovators in addressing one of the big challenges facing towns big and small: how to provide places to live that serve all our neighbors, keep our valley recognizable and familiar, and make us all feel at home.

Ray and Mary Johnston are principals in Johnston Architecture.

Methow Valley News 46

A community’s journey to fire resiliency

Cooperation and planning earned Firewise status

Community is a word that means both very much and very little depending on the context. The most simplistic definition describes it as a unified body of individuals. The field of ecology lends the word a more distinct but still ambiguous meaning, describing associations between two or more populations or species in the same space and time. Community takes on a broader meaning as members try to make it through a mix of smoke, flame and critical action that follows when wildfire arrives on the landscape.

The verdant Methow Valley is home to many communities, hosting grasslands, wetlands, and pine and fir forests teeming with life that rise upward into the subalpine of the North Cascades. These communities, or ecosystems, are resilient toward wildfire when the right conditions are met. Each, in its way, contributes to the overall health and well-being of the land. The Methow Valley is a complex web of interdependence, where each species, from the smallest microbe to the largest mammal, plays a crucial role in the balance of life, death and rebirth when wildfire makes its appearance.

The diverse mosaic of communities, home to everything from pygmy short-horned lizards to mountain goats, is further diversified by human communities that share the landscape. Although wildlife and

other wild things are adapted to fire, finding resilience to wildfire in the human communities of the Methow can be a challenge.


Kumm Road, in the north end of the valley off of Highway 20, is a community that is, in many ways, a crosscut of the biological and human diversity of the Methow. It’s a mixture of part-time and full-time residents, old-timers and newcomers, residential and agricultural, all living in an area that hosts everything from aspen woodlands and alfalfa fields to rocky talus slopes at the base of Lucky Jim Bluff.

Like many communities in the Methow, the residents of Kumm Road have experienced the smoke and nighttime glow of wildfires in the surrounding national forest lands. In July and August 2021,

that nighttime glow came unse ttlingly close for many as the Cedar Creek Fire burned in the steep rocky uplands of the valley’s rim.

For the landscapes’ ecosystems, the aftermath of wildfires like Cedar Creek, which ultimately burned over 55,000 acres, is the beginning of a story of recovery. But for the residents of Kumm Road, it was instead a journey towards resiliency.

“It’s a great neighborhood,” says Nils Pohlmann, a Kumm

Road resident along with his wife, Sarah, and one of the leaders of the Kumm Road Firewise Community. After the harrowing experience of Cedar Creek, the Pohlmanns began their fire resiliency journey by talking to firefighters who had worked diligently to prevent the fire from moving down Lucky Jim Bluff into the valley.

The Pohlmanns’ home, built by former U.S. Forest Service employees, had many features for resiliency, such as metal siding, gravel

Methow Home 2023 47
Photos courtesy of Okanogan Conservation District Nils Pohlmann and his wife, Sarah, helped initiate the process that led to Firewise certification for the Kumm Road neighborhood.

around the residence, and open space between the buildings. The next step was to schedule an assessment to see how resilient the property was.

“We thought we’d pass with flying colors,” said Pohlmann, recalling the home risk assessment performed by the Okanogan Conservation District in the fall of 2021. But, while having a strong showing, there was still room for improvement.


During the assessment, district staff talked about how Firewise communities that become certified as Firewise USA sites take an essential step towards protecting themselves from wildfire impacts.

The Firewise USA program, run by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), provides communities with a framework for reducing their wildfire risk through education, planning, and action. Kumm Road, already a close-knit community before the fire, had many features that made it a community primed for Firewise USA certification.

Communication is critical for wildfire resiliency, and in an area like the Methow, where the population has experienced an influx of new residents and an increase in second home ownership, knowing your neighbors can be a challenge. Folks on Kumm Road made a point of connecting and maintaining solid ties through




instant messaging, emails, and community get-togethers.

This came in handy when the Pohlmanns suggested that Kumm Road form a Firewise

council to continue its wildfire resiliency journey. As the fall passed to winter, with additional assistance from the conservation district, Kumm Road’s Firewise community began to

The Room One Host Home Program facilitates matches between young people (12-24) in need of housing with volunteers who have safe and private rooms to share on a time-limited basis.

Program Highlights:

•Provides space and time for youth and young adults to work toward long term stability

•Helps youth and youg adults stay in school or keep employment

•Trauma-informed and experienced case management for participants

•Support and mentorship for Hosts and young people enrolled in the program

Methow Valley News 48
The Kumm Road community is a mixture of part-time and full-time residents, old-timers and newcomers, residential and agricultural.
Room One
M-Th 9am-4pm
Host Home Volunteers!
One is a community voice, powerfully advocating for the health and well-being of all people living in the Methow Valley Landscaping & Irrigation Contractor • Landscaping • Irrigation • Concrete Pavers • Water Features • Retaining Walls Windy Valley Landscaping Design through Installation See our project gallery at Lic. #HAPPYLL937D2 email: Cathy Habermehl 509-733-1090 Eddy Layne 509-429-9239
out our website: Room

take shape.

Becoming a Firewise USA community has four basic steps: form a council, identify the community boundaries, assess the community’s overall risk of wildfire impact, and submit the assessment and an action plan to the NFPA to receive certification.

Kumm Road’s strong intercommunity ties made setting up the council a breeze, and boundaries were easy to decide on, which were all properties on Kumm Road and its spurs. The assessment was the next step. The Pohlmanns contacted the Okanogan Conservation District in March 2022 to continue the conversations about Kumm Road’s progress.

Like many things on Kumm Road, the assessment was a community affair. Okanogan Conservation’s fire planners, Eli Loftis and Dylan Streeter, met with the Pohlmanns and other residents as they shared stories of wildfire experiences, the community’s concerns about possible future impacts, and what they were already doing to protect themselves and their neighbors.

Irrigation systems kept the large meadows at the heart of Kumm Road green in the summer, the ponderosa pine stand nearest the highway had been cleared of much of the forest litter and pine beetle-killed trees and, most importantly, folks knew one another and made an effort to stay connected. Loftis and Streeter spent the rest of the day touring the area, measuring road widths, accessing forest health, and creating a plan forward for the community.


The assessment ultimately found more assets than it did faults in fire resiliency. The biggest recommendations included creating additional turnarounds for first responders, adding reflective address and road signs, and reducing fuels in the undeveloped portions of the community through cost-share offered by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Kumm Road’s residents developed an action plan based on the recommendations and the desire to

maintain the valley beauty they all enjoy. In the fall, with Okanogan Conservation District’s financial assistance, Kumm Road residents disposed of nearly two tons of pine needles, pinecones and other ground fuels, removing the means for fire to travel on the ground, while also helping to improve local air quality by using alternatives to the typical pile burning.

Community members encouraged their neighbors to sign up for individual home risk assessments through the Okanogan Conservation District or the DNR. The community action plan was finalized and submitted to NFPA. On Nov. 21, 2022, Kumm Road became Okanogan County’s newest Firewise Community, joining a mosaic of communities in Okanogan County.

The high probability of wildfire in the Methow Valley is real and challenging. The impacts of climate change, forest health issues, and the paradoxical destructive/ creative forces of wildfire will need to be managed on varying ecological, social, and financial scales for some time to come.

The ambiguous nature of community makes facing those challenges difficult, but when neighbors show mutual care and concern for one another and the landscape, a more sustainable future is created. The word community is ultimately derived from the Latin word communitas, meaning literally “community spirit.” Through the spirit of the Kumm Road Firewise Community and many other communities up and down the Methow Valley, the challenges of living on a wildfire-prone landscape in a changing world can be met, ensuring the health and well-being of the land and its inhabitants.

Practicing cooperative conservation since 1940, the Okanogan Conservation District works every day to serve the ecological and human communities of Okanogan County. If you want to begin or continue your fire resiliency journey, or need assistance to recover after a wildfire, contact the Wildfire and Community Resiliency Program’s Lead, Eli Loftis, at (509) 429-3453 or Check out our website at www.okanogancd. org/wildfire.


...where you’ll find LOCALLY MADE art, clothing, jewelry, pottery, and more from 90+ vendors. Every purchase makes a real person do a happy dance!

Tues – Sat 11AM – 4PM

In building O @TwispWorks 502 S Glover Street, Twisp, WA This ad paid for in part by Okanogan County Lodging Taxes

Themedianhomeprice in2022 was


of 2 would need to earn


to aford this, a family than3Xthe areamedian (more income)

far, local folks,

45 60+


So thanksto investment permanently afordable, qualityhomes for theMethowHousing Trust has:



Methow Home 2023 49
Builtsold & homes, and plannedare
arein families our applicantpool
Methow Valley News 50
advertisers ARCHITECTS & DESIGNERS Aiello Architecture. . . . . . . . .19 Brooks Middleton Architect . . 34 CAST Architecture . . . . . . . . 29 David Coleman Architecture . . 21 DeForest Architects 39 Intrinsic Design . . . . . . . . . . 43 Johnston Architects . . . . . . . 42 Lawrence Architecture . . . . . 52 Methow Valley Design . . . . . 40 modFORM 14 Prentiss, Balance, Wickline Architects . . . . . . . . 51 SEM Studio Architects. . . . . . 26 Serious Fun Studio . . . . . . . . 27 Syndicate Smith. . . . . . . . . . 30 The Patterson Company . . . . . 15 Zervas Architecture, Interior Design. . . . . . . . . . . . 17 ART The Confluence, Gallery & Art Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 BANKING & LOANS US Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 BUILDING SUPPLIES Bear Creek Lumber . . . . . . . 43 Cascade Concrete. . . . . . . . . 35 Cascade Pipe & Feed Supply . 34 Methow Valley Lumber . . . . . . 16 North Cascades Builders Supply . . . . . . . . . . . 51 North Valley Lumber . . . . . . . 13 BUILDERS & CONTRACTORS Blackcap Builders Collective. . .9 Intrinsic Design . . . . . . . . . . 43 Leuschen Construction . . . . . . 17 Methow Construction . . . . . . 40 Methow Valley Design . . . . . 40 Noah Constructor . . . . . . . . . 2 Parks Construction . . . . . . . 46 Schuler Build . . . . . . . . . . . 38 The Patterson Company . . . . . 15 COMMUNITY SUPPORT SERVICES Methow Housing Trust . . . . . 49 Room One. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 CONCRETE & GRAVEL Cascade Concrete . . . . . . . . 35 J.A. Wright Construction . . . . 40 CONSERVATION CONSULTANTS Methow Conservancy . . . . . . 20 EVENTS The Confluence, Gallery & Art Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 EXCAVATING B & B Excavating . . . . . . . . . 35 J.A. Wright Construction . . . . 40 J. Haase Excavating . . . . . . . . 13 McHugh’s Excavating . . . . . . .19 FINANCIAL SERVICES J. Bart Bradshaw, CPA . . . . . . .2 Kyley Port, CPA . . . . . . . . . . 20 FLOORING Harmony House Interiors . . . .10 Methow Valley Lumber . . . . . . 16 North Valley Lumber . . . . . . . 13 GEOTHERMAL SERVICES Fisher Refrigeration . . . . . . . 44 GUTTERS All Valley Insulation . . . . . . . 20 HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING Fisher Refrigeration . . . . . . . 44 HOME & GARDEN Cascade Pipe & Feed Supply . 34 INSULATION All Valley Insulation . . . . . . . 20 ATI Insulation . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Methow Valley Lumber . . . . . . 16 INSURANCE VIP Melbourn Insurance . . . . .2 INTERIOR DESIGN Harmony House Interiors. . . . .10 Intrinsic Design . . . . . . . . . . 43 Zervas Architecture, Interior Design. . . . . . . . . . . . 17 IRRIGATION SERVICES & SUPPLIES Carlton Landscape, Inc. . . . . . . 14 MVM Quality Drilling . . . . . . . 3 LANDSCAPE SERVICES & SUPPLIES Carlton Landscape, Inc. . . . . . . 14 Cascade Concrete . . . . . . . . 35 Goat Wall Landscaping . . . . . . 15 J.A. Wright Construction . . . . 40 Plantas Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Windy Valley Landscaping . . 48 LODGING Methow Reservations . . . . . . 52 Twisp River Suites . . . . . . . . 33 PROPANE SALES & SERVICES North Cascades Propane . . . . . 14 PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Methow House Watch . . . . . . 38 RADIO KTRT 27 REAL ESTATE Blue Sky Real Estate . . . . . . . . 51 Coldwell Banker Winthrop Realty . . . . . . . . . 36 Windermere Real Estate . . . . 25 RECYCLING Methow Recycles . . . . . . . . . 46 RETAIL The Confluence, Gallery & Art Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Valley Goods, TwispWorks. . . 49 ROOFING & REPAIR Triple T Roofing . . . . . . . . . . 42 Zaga Roofing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 SEPTIC DESIGN J.A. Wright Construction . . . . 40 SURVEYORS Tackman Surveying . . . . . . . 39 TRUCK OPERATORS Yellowjacket Lifting. . . . . . . . .9 WELL DRILLING & PUMP, SALES & SERVICE MVM Quality Drilling . . . . . . . 3 WINDOWS & DOORS All Valley Insulation . . . . . . . 20 DR Glass Works . . . . . . . . . . 44 Methow Valley Lumber . . . . . . 16 North Cascades Builders Supply . . . . . . . . . . . 51 North Valley Lumber. . . . . . . . 13
Directory of

blue sky real estate

Methow Home 2023 51 office 104 Riverside Ave, Ste A Winthrop, WA 98862 phone 509.996.8148 (winthrop) 206.283.9930 (seattle) email We rely on over three decades of experience in the valley to create beautiful homes inspired by their surroundings. Visit our website at Anne Eckmann & Heather Marrone, Owners ~ (509) 996-8084 Kathy Goldberg, Valerie Kardonsky, Leverett Hubbard, Crescent Rudholm, Sherry Malotte, Callie Fink Welcome to your backyard! NORTH CASCADES BUILDERS SUPPPLY Your Local Loewen Window and Door Dealer • 31 Highway 20 Winthrop, WA 98862 509.996.2251 • We create windows and doors that flawlessly unite wood, glass and metal -- captivating the eye, elevating the spirit and bringing your world one step closer to perfection.
Project image: Nelson Cabin - courtesy Stefan Hampden of CAST architecture
Methow Valley News 52 Lawrence Architecture 206.332.1832 Est. 1984
Photo by
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.