Home > EDITORIAL > Regional Buzz > Chewin’ the Fat Boy: November, 2016

Chewin’ the Fat Boy: November, 2016

By Susan Swan

Chewing
For about a dozen years now, I’ve been dropping hints to column readers, that when they’re passing through Pend Oreille (pond array) County in the remote Forgotten Corner of NE Washington State, should the impulse strike, for Pete’s sake, drop-in. I’ve further suggested that, provided adequate lead-time, there might even be a piece of pie in it for travelers… Those who have visited paved the way with an inquiry first. Many have been in search of a lodging option along the International Selkirk Loop passing within three miles of us here on Le Clerc Road North. Those e-conversations opened the door to a welcome… We’re here ranching, tending the forest, building two straw bale insulated homes, volunteering in our community and planning for a future that seems to be coming on faster than our wheels spin. So due to all this, in the summer growing season we don’t often leave. We hear motorcycles coming, we watch you go by our drive, Heritage Lane, and we’re glad you’re taking in the beauty of these quiet roads. Dollars you spend while passing through small towns remind rural leaders that keeping the natural landscape intact, guarding the history, culture, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty can turn a few shekels. So thanks for touring here, really… Riders make good stewards. We’re a community of the-fairly-normal types, with little to prove to others. We have a deep-rooted connection to the landscape that is America, and we demonstrate our love of it in meaningful ways, both private and public. A champion in the protection of farm and ranch land, currently lost at a rate of 40 acres per hour in the U.S., is the American Farmland Trust (farmland.org). Their website reveals that over 55 percent of those who farm are 55 and older. What will this mean for America’s food supply?… Riding in the Northwest, many have toured the Methow Valley, Winthrop and the North Cascade Highway (State Route 20). In those areas local economic development and conservation groups have respectfully collaborated, elevating the discussion and keeping the cultural history and farms of the valley intact. There, development favors projects that consider, even mirror, the character of the region. They’ve shown that everyone can win big by working together. As a result, generations of younger people have been able to return after college and make a life that makes cents and sense. And having youth come back to meaningful work and living wages means elders can stay put in a place they love through life’s end, supported by family close-by… I’m from Seattle, but my adopted county, Pend Oreille County, could be to Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, what the Methow Valley is to Greater Seattle. That’s if we preserve what’s so exceptional and unblemished. Here we’re far enough off the beaten path to have been spared a callous developer’s hand. But things are changing and it’s best we all pay attention. As an activist (a.k.a. thorn) I’ve been defending natural resource land in my community for about a decade, and have built a local network sufficient to hold off the worst players. To date it’s always been reacting to various proposals, but I’m ready to get out in front of things now. That’s why I’m devoting the November column to thanks-giving; thanking you for keeping an eye out too… In a decade I’ve watched the leadership here tip from center right to far right. I’m not talking a conservative step-right, but ass-over-teakettle-paranoid-right. Card-carrying nutcase, Bundy-club-right. And as those leaders stock boards with devotees willing to remove regulations that safeguard resources and opens avenues for misuse for developers who’ll make bank then go back home where strict regulations protect them from the very actions they’d deliver to the landscape here. In the fray are private farms and forestland, safe food supply, woodland caribou, lynx, snowshoe hare, grizzly, wolves, elk and the other usual suspects… Safeguarding and celebrating what’s here could turn Methow-like coin, but in the interest of a quicker nickel, the landscape may be sold-out… So do come, see the unspoiled splendor. Take the Selkirk Loop into Canada and Northwest Idaho. Summer 2017 is just ahead. I’m calling on those who’ve stayed in touch like Arlie Becker, Steve Martinson, Keith Rauh, Foster Kinn, Ed Pinson, T-Ro, Deb Macdonald, and your significant others/partners, groups like the Northwest Classics Motorcycle Club, ABATE and friends like YOU who we haven’t yet met, to consider a ride through, or a stop-in in 2017. Hey, NWCMC, why not pencil us in for a Gopher Run destination?… If we’re terribly busy, it might be a quick hello and pointing you to a little shade by the river. Or we might be picking up litter on our mile of road and welcome your helping hands as we did with the Yakima H.O.G. chapter years ago… But at the core, we’re humbled living in nature and want to inspire stewardship of natural resources elsewhere. Being at rest on a peaceful landscape, surrounded by beauty and thoroughly outnumbered by critters will do that. Sharing the peace we enjoy as simple beings—simply being here, would please us; it always does… And if it inspires a visitor to stand up for a family farm back home, all the better. For a closer look at what a feisty woman can do, see Susan’s activist blog at: www.oldboysranch.blogspot.com or visit the family farm at www.tohonor.org.

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