Methow Valley residents gather to celebrate bill protecting the Methow Headwaters

Event celebrates headwaters bill

WINTHROP - Several hundred Methow Valley residents joined with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to celebrate a bill protecting the Methow Headwaters area near Mazama.

An April 20 celebration at the Winthrop Barn drew about 350 valley residents and Cantwell.

Legislation protecting the headwaters area from mining was part of the recently passed John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, which was championed by Cantwell. Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-4th District, attended the bill signing March 12.

Cantwell told the Methow Valley group that passage of the public lands bill recognizes the important economic contribution of outdoor recreation and its dependence on clean water and access to public lands. She said the significant size of the 340,079-acre headwaters withdrawal is a testament to the Methow community’s commitment to the future of the valley, and its effort to support the outdoor economy and ensure the area remains a vital place for people to live.

A group, Methow Headwaters Campaign, formed to oppose mining in the area. A Canadian firm had proposed mining the area.

“The United States of America has always had this responsibility to be a steward of our public lands and make good decisions and make the right investments for the future,” said Cantwell. “I know exactly what this community has been able to do in standing down what has been a threat to an unbelievable economy that already exists here … Thank God the people in the Methow Valley helped us make the right decision for the future.”

The senator also thanked Newhouse for his efforts supporting protection of the headwaters, and for the ongoing work and support of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray and Cantwell sponsored the original 2016 Methow Headwaters Protection Act.

Via a pre-recorded video message, Newhouse congratulated the community successful protection of the headwaters. He applauded the bipartisan effort in passing the public lands bill, and called the outcome for the Methow Valley a great victory for north central Washington.

“This took the cooperation of all groups – ranchers, farmers, hunters, environmentalists, recreationists, conservationists, conservatives and liberals alike, to all coming together for this common cause,” said Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, a headwaters supporter.

Special recognition was given to two community members.

Bill Pope, owner of the Mazama Country Inn, received the “Rabble Rouser” award for raising early community awareness of the potential for development of a large-scale copper mine in the headwaters and rallied the business community and others in support of protection.

Ing-Moody received the “Tireless Advocate” award for representing the community’s concern for the protection of its water, economy and rural character in numerous forums.

A special film featuring the voices of the community was shown to mark the celebration.