Year Timeline of
the Methow Valley Citizen’s Council
These are the milestones in the
of the Methow Valley Citizen’s Council.
- 1961. Sandy Butte is
surveyed by the USFS.
has its first organizational meeting in response to rumors
of large ski resort plans at Early Winters. The statement of purpose of
MVCC is “to maintain the rural quality of life and agricultural
of the Methow Valley and to keep the valley a wholesome place for
life” (see mission statement at end). The Methow Valley Preservation
a related group, begins a newspaper ad campaign to make Methow Valley
aware of the impending threats from Aspen Corp.
- Aspen Ski Corporation
conducts feasibility studies for a ski resort in
the upper valley
- 1975. The Methow Valley
Land Use Advisory Committee is formed to
create a comprehensive plan.
- MVCC members become
involved with the development of the Methow Valley
Plan, still in effect today.
- MVCC incorporates.
- 1976. MVCC appeals large
well DOE applications for Early Winters.
- MVCC helps organize
opposition to an industrial/commercial zone in a residential
agricultural area by the Smokejumper base.
- Okanogan county adopts
the Interim Zoning Ordinance putting a moratorium
on commercial industrial development outside of towns until the zoning
ordinance is adopted.
- MVCC submits comments on
the USFS Twisp / Winthrop / Conconully (TWC) Plan
DEIS, which considers Sandy Butte for a ski area.
- 10/01/76. The TWC Plan
FEIS is adopted, MVCC's suggestions are ignored.
- The Methow Valley Plan is
- 04/04/1977. The Okanogan
Forest Supervisor adopts the TWC Plan.
MVCC, together with Cascade Holistic Economic Consultants, appeals the
TWC Plan, opposing developed recreation status for Sandy Butte. The
responds by closing timber sales throughout the forest. Tension in the
valley runs high as MVCC is blamed for economic losses.
- 07/26/77. MVCC's appeal
is denied by the Regional Forester.
- 08/16/77. The TWC appeal
goes to the Chief of the USFS.
- 06/77. Aspen Corp. drops
its plans for a ski hill at Sandy Butte.
- 03/20/1978. SUCCESS! The
USFS Chief remands the TWC Plan and allows
timber sales to proceed.
- 07/78. The RARE II study
replaces the TWC Plan, pending outcome.
- 08/15/78. Methow
Recreation Inc. (MRI) applies for a special use permit
on Sandy Butte.
- 01/1979. RARE II
recommends non-wilderness for Sandy Butte; Forest
Supervisor prepares to authorize remanded TWC Plan.
- 03/23/79. The Chief of
the USFS directs the Okanogan National Forest to
use the older Multiple Use Plan authorizing unsustainable levels of
harvest, rather than the remanded TWC plan.
- 04/10/79. MVCC objects in
writing to the USFS Chief's allowing ski development
on Sandy Butte without a revised TWC Plan.
- 06/27/79. MVCC appeals to
the USDA. Rupert Cutler, Assistant Secretary
of Agriculture stays project approval, saying that no ski development
be allowed until the new Forest Plan is complete (projected for 12/81).
- MVCC members give hours
of time, testimony and effort to the development
of the Methow Review District, a more protective zoning code for the
that outlaws strip development and requires a 5 acre minimum lot size
dwelling unit on the valley floor. The Methow Review District zoning is
adopted after endless hearings despite vehement organized opposition by
Methow Valley real estate developers headed by Pete Arnold (Citizens
- Adoption of Okanogan
County Zoning Ordinance with intensive zoning for
Methow Review District.
- MVCC works with the newly
formed Okanogan Wilderness League (OWL), lobbying
our state representatives to create the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.
- 04/1981. The scoping
process for the Early Winters Draft EIS is
begun. MVCC comments.
- 08/27/1982. The DEIS for
the Okanogan Forest Plan and Early Winters
are released together.
- 11/30/82. The review
period ends for the Early Winters Alpine Winter Sports
Study Draft EIS, in which MVCC attended hearings and submitted comments
- MVCC successfully lobbies
Okanogan County to adopt the Beck Study, which
documents the permeability of upper valley soils and the need for tight
sewage regulations to prevent pollution of the Methow River.
- 01/27/1983. Governor
Spellman tells Regional Forester McLaughlin
to support Early Winters.
- 03/16/83. Roadless Area
planning delays the Forest Plan and EIS. By year's
end, Washington legislators are informed by the USDA that a Wilderness
Bill might speed the Early Winters FEIS.
- MVCC organizes an
informational presentation about the effects of large-scale
ski development in the Methow on the environment, animals and
The presentation is given to large audiences in Twisp, Methow and then
in Olympia before the State Winter Recreation Committee. The committee
votes to ignore our concerns and one member resigns in protest. MVCC is
interviewed for TV news.
- 1984. MVCC unsuccessfully
lobbies the DOE to change the status of
Methow River to AA, which would severely limit the amount of allowable
degradation. (DOE said the river was too warm in August near Pateros so
that it didn't qualify even though the water quality was higher than
- MVCC comments on the
Forest Plan, urging sustainable levels of timber harvest
and roadless area protection.
- 01/26/84. The USFS Chief
informs the Regional Forester that the Early Winters
DEIS may not be released without the Okanogan Forest Plan in place. The
Washington Wilderness Bill is signed creating the Chelan-Sawtooth
- 07/05/84. The USFS signs
its Record of Decision to issue a permit for 3,900
acres of public land for 8,200 skiers at one time on Sandy Butte.
4 of the DEIS is chosen in the record of Decision. Developer, Methow
Inc. (MRI) would develop a ski village on the adjacent 1,200 acres of
lands at the base of the hill.
- 10/01/84. MVCC appeals
the Early Winters EIS.
- Jeff Sirmon, Regional
Forester, rules against MVCC in appeal of the adequacy
of the Early Winters EIS.
- 10/30/84. USFS Chief Dale
Robertson rules against MVCC, supporting the
Regional Forester's decision.
- 1985. MVCC enters into
talks with Hosey and Associates, who have
contracted to do the EIS for MRI, regarding possible acceptable
scenarios. A Draft Settlement Agreement is produced.
- Methow Valley Interagency
Committee is formed by Okanogan County in response
to Early Winters Record of Decision. MVCC sends two representatives.
- Talks with Hosey and
Associates and MRI attorneys break down over size
of the resort. Proponents planned 4,120 dwellings on their 1,200 acres.
- Anti-MVCC signs appear
throughout the valley upon breakdown of negotiations.
- 12/17/85. MVCC appeals
the adequacy of the Early Winters EIS to Federal
District Court. Parties to the suit are MVCC, Washington Environmental
Council, Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club and Washington State
Council, which later drops out.
- 06/25/1986. Federal
Magistrate William Dale rules against MVCC in
Federal District Court on appeal of the Early Winters EIS after oral
in Portland, Oregon.
- 08/14/86. MVCC attorney
Bricklin files a complaint with the Ninth Circuit
Court on issuance of Special Use Authorizations for MRI.
- 09/30/86. MVCC attorney
Bricklin appeals the Regional Forester's dismissal
of Special Use Authorizations.
- The Washington Governor's
Commission actively supports Early Winters as
the destination resort Washington needs.
- MVCC members lobby County
Commissioners for regulations to disallow subdivision
and vegetative disturbance in riparian areas in the new Shorelines
- 06/1987. MVCC
unsuccessfully appeals Regional Forest Supervisor
Jeff Sirmon’s issuance of the permit for Early Winters.
- 07/06/87. MVCC Attorney
Bricklin presents oral arguments before the Ninth
Circuit Court in appeal of the Special Use Permit for MRI.
- 12/01/87. The Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals finds in favor of MVCC. The
EIS is ruled inadequate in addressing alternative sites, mitigation,
impacts to air quality and the mule deer herd.
- Governor Booth Gardner
signs legislation earmarking $187,000 for the Department
of Community Development to help planning for a destination resort at
- 1988. Hosey and
Associates becomes the principal developer of the
lands it has been evaluating for MRI in the EIS.
- The USFS appeals the
Ninth Circuit Decision on Early Winters, requesting
review by the US Supreme Court, particularly on issues of mitigations
worst case analysis. The High Court accepts the case as Robertson v.
which the Court combines with the case Marsh v. ONRC on the Elk Creek
in Oregon. Amicus briefs are written to the Supreme Court in support of
MVCC and the other environmental groups, by the National Wildlife
Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wilderness Society, the
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the American Planning
and 29 states.
- 01/09/1989. Oral
presentation on behalf of the environmental groups
is made before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. by David
of Bricklin and Gendler in Seattle. Several Methow Valley residents
- 05/01/89. The US Supreme
Court leaves the majority of the Ninth Circuit
decision in place in favor of MVCC; remands to Ninth Circuit. The Court
reverses the Ninth Circuit decision only on mitigation and worst case
A fully developed mitigation plan is not required. An agency is not
to make a worst case analysis if it cannot make a reasoned assessment
a project’s environmental impact.
- 11/89. The Preliminary
Study Draft of the new Okanogan County Zoning Ordinance
and Shorelines Program receives MVCC reviews and comments.
- The USFS and Hosey and
Associates begin a Draft Supplemental EIS (DSEIS)
for Early Winters, in response to court decisions.
- 02/1990. MVCC receives a
$10,000 grant from Northwest Fund for the
Environment for office space and staff. First MVCC office set up; Jason
Smith hired as first staff person.
- 02/90. Friends of the
Methow (FOM) hold their first meeting in Seattle
to support MVCC's efforts.
- 06/90. A Federal
magistrate indicates that portions of the DSEIS as written
will likely be inadequate to meet directives of the Ninth Circuit
A new DSEIS is begun by Hosey & Associates and Okanogan County.
- 06/90. Hosey &
Associates propose a land trade with the USFS, attempting
to acquire 123 acres near the proposed development, including Early
- 06/90. MVCC reviews and
comments on Okanogan County Shoreline Management
- 08/90. The USFS withdraws
their DSEIS for Early Winters.
- 11/02/90. MVCC is awarded
$211,366.37 attorneys' fees and court costs for
prevailing on appeal through the US Supreme Court.
- 11/90. President Bush
signs PL101-560, directing the USFS to analyze the
proposed land exchange with Early Winters proponents, who are
to acquire 123 acres near the proposed development, including Early
- MVCC/FOM file a complaint
in Superior Court claiming SEPA violations in
Okanogan County’s adoption of the PDR portion of the zoning ordinance.
- 01/30/1991. DOE declares
an emergency moratorium on water permits
in certain drainages in the Methow.
- 06/21/91. A Notice of
Intent to prepare a Revised Draft Supplement to the
1984 Final EIS is published in the Federal Register, addressing the
trade, alternatives, and many impact items.
- 07/91. MVCC comments on
the County’s Open Space Taxation Plan.
- The Methow Regulation
Review Advisory Committee, composed of citizen representatives
( including MVCC members), recommends that all well drilling and
stop until water use is determined to be within the limits allowed by
- 05/15/91. Okanogan County
proposes a rezone of Mazama area to five units
per acre from one unit per five acres, thus requiring a sewer line.
comments against this proposal.
- MVCC testifies against
zoning allowing gas stations and restaurants between
- MVCC works on
Environmentally Sensitive Areas code addition to County's
State Environmental Policy Act.
- 07/91. The Methow Valley
is accepted as one of two state Pilot Planning
Projects to study base flows and instream flows per the recent Chelan
Jason Smith, MVCC staff person, serves as chair of the environmental
- 1992. R.D. Merrill
forecloses on the Early Winters Project before
the Revised DSEIS is completed. The only bidder is Merrill, buying the
acreage for $830,000.
- 10/92. MVCC cosponsors
bimothly forums with the USFS, extending into 1992,
with topics including Noxious Weeds, salmon, grazing, forest health,
a live gray wolf who also visits area schools.
- 11/25/92. MVCC/FOM,
represented by David Bricklin, challenges Okanogan
County's adoption the new County Zoning Ordinance in Okanogan County
Court, citing failure to identify and protect critical areas, sensitive
areas, and inconsistency with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
- 04/23/1993. MVCC sponsors
a 3-day regional Environmental Education
Conference under a $10,0000 Bullitt Grant for Environmental Education.
Thom Henley flies in from Thailand as keynote speaker. The USFS and the
Methow Valley School District join in sponsorship; teachers and others
from across Washington State attend.
- Ron Judd, FOM, initiates
talks among MVCC, FOM, R.D. Merrill, and Lowe
Development regarding possible agreement on development of the Merrill
- 09/15/93. MVCC, Friends
of the Methow (FOM) and R.D. Merrill sign a Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) for the Wilson Ranch. Among other things, the
Wilson Ranch PD is allowed to proceed, while Merrill agrees not to
a downhill ski resort. MVCC/FOM reserves the right to challenge any PDR
and acquires a right of first refusal on the purchase of the property
owned by Hosey, etc. ( See related article on Merrill negotiations)
- Ground Water Advisory
Committee formed. MVCC gives input on water conservation
measures and unsuccessfully asks for adoption of more stringent
on wasteful practices.
- 03/1994. Merrill has
changed plans and is now pursuing approval
of a PDR (Planned Destination Resort) rather than two Planned
(PDs). The Shaffer development would become part of a two-phase
resort and would have 166 dwelling units.
- 10/94. Merrill/Lowe are
now talking about the Wilson Ranch with 41 units
and two phases of a “River Trace” PDR with a total number of 495 units.
The MVCC Board brings this proposal to the general membership, and it
agreed to proceed with caution.
- 11/15/94. Charlie Wright
begins to take over as leader of negotiations
on behalf of R.D. Merrill.
- 01/20/1995. Now Merrill
“proposes” 495 units at Arrowleaf, employee
housing and “affordable” units bringing the total to 577, along with
possibility of “holdback units”, bringing the total to 689.
- 02/28/95. MVCC
reluctantly agrees to a tentative proposal for 689 units
(with hotel units counting as 1/2 and other conditions still under
making the total number actually higher) if performance standards and
items still being negotiated could be agreed upon.
- 12/13/95. Okanogan County
and Merrill release a Draft EIS on Arrowleaf
before final agreement is reached between Merrill and MVCC/FOM.
- MVCC petitions the
Okanogan County Commissioners to limit the development
of the Arrowleaf PDR to Phase 1 with a total density of 250 residential
- 01/1996. Okanogan County
holds public hearings on the Arrowleaf
DEIS. MVCC and various government agencies raise serious concerns in
- 03/96. 830 people sign a
petition asking for limits on density of the resort.
- 05/10/96. MVCC attempts
to reopen negotiations with Merrill, but no meetings
- 05/14/96. The Final EIS
for the Arrowleaf Proposed Destination Resort is
- 05/29/96. MVCC files an
eleventh hour Administrative Appeal on the adequacy
of the Final EIS for the Arrowleaf PDR, rather than lose future appeal
- 07/09/96. The County
Commissioners hold two days of hearings on the adequacy
of the EIS and whether to approve the Preliminary Development Plan and
Program (PDPP) and rezone. MVCC is not allowed to subpoena government
- 08/96. Okanogan County
Commissioners vote to deny the MVCC Appeal of Adequacy
of the Final EIS for the Arrowleaf PDR. The resort is approved subject
to 126 conditions of approval including stipulations that the resort
have adequate water, restrictions on wood burning and a monitoring plan
for air and water.
- 09/10/96. MVCC appeals
the Commissioners’ decision on adequacy of the EIS,
and files a Land Use Petition.
- 11/1/96. In a preliminary
hearing, Judge Carol Wardell of Chelan County
Superior Court rules that the Okanogan County Commissioners denied MVCC
due process in not allowing MVCC to cross examine witnesses and not
MVCC time to rebut their testimony. Consequently, the court provided
parties with a limited opportunity to supplement the record.
- 11/96. MVCC and Mazama
residents object to Merrill's burning of slash piles,
which pollute the upper Methow for weeks, and degrade Pasayten
Class I air.
- 12/30/96. Okanogan County
issues a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit
allowing construction of a portion of the golf course within the
floodplain and its associated wetlands at the former Shafer and Cassal
- 1996. MVCC and Okanogan
Wilderness League (OWL) appeal the Conditional
Use Permit (CUP) given to Merrill to develop a golf course in the
floodplain, and for construction within floodplain channels.
- 02/03/1997. Judge Wardell
orders changes in the jurisdiction of
the EIS appeal by
MVCC against the Arrowleaf resort and PDR. The Washington
State Shorelines Hearing Board will now preside.
- Spring, 1997. Fearing an
unfavorable outcome before the State Pollution
Control Hearings Board in Chelan Superior Court, Merrill withdraws
permits. Jurisdiction returns to Wardell in Chelan Superior Court.
- 03/31/97. The County
Commissioners approve the Final Development Plan and
Program (FDP) for Phase I of the Arrowleaf PDR.
- 07/14/97. MVCC appeals
the FEIS before Judge Wardell in Chelan Superior
Court. MVCC is allowed only to cross-examine the developer's witnesses
who testified before the commissioners and rebut them on new factual
and opinions. Important MVCC experts are not allowed to testify in
Important witnesses from government agency employees supporting MVCC
not allowed to testify because they did not testify before
(They did not testify before Commissioners because MVCC was not allowed
by the Commissioners to subpoena them.)
- 10/09/97. The MVCC Board
votes to join PACE in an appeal if the Okanogan
PUD makes a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) for the power line
- 12/08/97. Judge Carol
Wardell of Chelan Superior Court rules in MVCC's
favor regarding water quantity and quality. In addition, the
findings were not adequate concerning whether the PDR complies with the
zoning ordinance; the Commissioners must further address how the resort
“compliments” the area.
- 02/17/1998. The PUD
announces its DNS for the proposed Pateros -
Twisp power line.
- 04/98. The Methow Valley
is included in the 1000 Friends of Washington's
Ten Most Endangered Places.
- 05/98. The Arrowleaf EIS
Addendum is released by Okanogan County.
- 05/98. New employee
cabins are discovered built on Arrowleaf property.
DOE confirms that water issues for Arrowleaf have not been resolved and
permits have not been issued.
- 05/26/98. MVCC sends a
letter to DOE protesting Arrowleaf's water rights
- 06/03/98. An Arrowleaf
site tour is held with representatives from R.D.
Merrill, OWL, Okanogan County, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife,
Fish and Wildlife, DOE, Shorelines, and MVCC.
- 06/30/98. The Arrowleaf
EIS Addendum Hearing is held before the County
- 07/27/98. The County
Commissioners approve the Arrowleaf EIS and re-approve
the Arrowleaf PDR with substantial Conditions of Approval. MVCC's
- 08/98. The press
discovers that the Arrowleaf site houses rare bats.
- 09/17/98. DOE documents
indicate a tentative decision for Arrowleaf water
has been reached, finding water available to irrigate 100 acres and
water for 3 or 4 home sites.
- 09/23/98. The Draft Upper
Methow Valley Comprehensive Plan is released.
- 11/19/98. The Press tours
the Winthrop Interpretive Trail Project, begun
and undertaken by MVCC intern, Sarah Locke.
- 01/07/1999. The
Washington Supreme Court affirms the decision of
the Pollution Control Hearings Board in favor of OWL and Aaron
Only three of five water rights changes applied for by Merrill can be
One right had never been perfected , and facts as to relinquishment or
abandonment of the remaining right must be determined by further
- 01/15/99. The Attorney
General of Washington notifies Arrowleaf developer
Merrill that the “Wilson Ranch does not appear to have sufficient water
to meet Merrill's estimate of annual demand”.
- 03/04/99. PACE appeals
the power line DNS with Toby Thaler and Peter Goldman
as attorneys. Okanogan Highlands Associates, Kettle Range Conservation
Group, and MVCC join the appeal.
- 03/99. The Methow Basin
Watershed Planning Unit is formed. Controversy
over environmental representation results in the addition of an
- 06/99. PUD Commissioners
listen to six days of testimony in the appeal
of their DNS for the transmission line and substation.
- 06/10/99. DOE hosts a
public hearing at the Winthrop Barn on a proposed
Basin rule which would allow conversion of agricultural water rights to
development rights, extend seasonal rights throughout the year, and
water rights to be bought and sold. The public overwhelmingly objects
this commercialization and loss of agricultural water. DOE subsequently
withdraws the proposal.
- 06/29/99. PUD
Commissioners affirm their decision that the power line will
not have significant environmental impacts.
- 07/12/99. The County
Commissioners hold reconsideration hearings on Arrowleaf's
Final Development Plan, MVCC comments against approval.
- 07/20/99. The Arrowleaf
Golf Course Management Plan receives County approval.
MVCC prepares objections.
- 10/99. DOE Shorelands
releases their Ordinary High Water Mark Report for
the Methow River adjacent to the Arrowleaf property indicating many
are omitted from Merrill's site plan.
- 12/99. DOE issues a
preliminary ruling that the Arrowleaf proposal lacks
enough water rights to proceed. Merrill decides to drop plans for
at Arrowleaf when it becomes apparent that no final ruling will be made
in the near future.
- 11/99. FOM, possessing a
joint right of refusal with MVCC, renews active
interest in the Merrill property. FOM engineers connections with
who could purchase the property for larger sums of money than MVCC
- 12/14/99. Trust for
Public Land agrees to act as representative for MVCC/FOM
in arranging a conservation buy-out of the Arrowleaf property.
- 01/24/2000. The appeal of
the PUD's affirmation of the DNS is heard
before Judge Jack Burchard in Okanogan County Superior Court.
- 03/06/00. Judge Burchard
rules against the PUD, following the January hearing,
stating that the court “is left with the definite and firm conviction
a mistake has been committed” and the power line will have a
- 03/00. Merrill makes a
final agreement for purchase of Arrowleaf by MVCC/FOM
contingent upon a settlement with the Okanogan Wilderness League on
- 04/00. A settlement
agreement is reached between Merrill and OWL. Merrill
agrees to relinquish questionable water rights associated with the
property and Wilson Planned Development, allowing conservation buy-out
plans for the Arrowleaf property to continue.
Department of Ecology.
DEIS, DSEIS, FEIS,
SEIS - Environmental Impact Statement (Draft, Draft Supplemental,
Friends of the
- National Environmental
- People for Alternatives,
Conservation and Education.
- State Environmental
Plan - Twisp / Winthrop
/ Conconully Unit Plan by the USFS.
- US Forest Service.