Provide facts on conservation buys
I only wish I had the power of influence a previous writer credits me with in an April 22 letter to the editor.
If I did, we the public, would have transparency and accountability on the massive government and environmental group acquisitions of private land and land rights. We would well know the cumulative impacts of private lands and land, water, mineral and timber rights that are taken away from private ownership and use forever and transferred to government agencies and environmental partners.
But we don’t.
The entourage that went to Rep. Kretz’s office was to lobby for more acquisitions of land rights that just in Okanogan County in this legislative session were proposed for 9,997 additional acres to initially cost the public $5,154,604. The statement about the previous writer’s address was simply that a Renton address is listed on Assessor’s Office records, which it is. But more importantly, none of the writer’s claims change the bottom line presented to legislators — the state Department of Fish and Wildlife used $950,000 in public funds for his nearly 2,000-acre conservation easement in perpetuity on lands he purchased for $1.5 million. That’s one of many sweet deals for “conservation buyers” and the federal tax breaks make the deals even sweeter.
We the public have long and unknowingly been forced into the role of “willing buyer.” It is past time for the public to be provided the facts to truly decide if the cumulative mounting losses of private land and land rights for the “public benefit” are worth it.
Don’t minimize human influence
I couldn’t agree more with an April 22 letter to the editor in which the writer laments The Chronicle’s bias and indifference to both facts and what is good for the people of Okanogan County.
Ironically, right above that letter was a column by Roger Harnack, Chronicle editor and publisher, regarding human contribution to climate change.
No, this year is not the first time the state has experienced drought. And it is true that the earth has undergone climate cycles throughout its history. This is not news to those who are concerned about the current pace of global warming, and who have facts that support the conclusion that human activities are making it worse.
You hold up the drought of 1977 as proof that drought is nothing new. You quote a report about that drought as saying “the Pacific Northwest should plan for much drier conditions.” And you think this makes your point that the current drought is just part of a natural cycle?
While you — and others who deny or minimize human contribution to global warming — continue to resist measures to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The column only confirms that we knew all those decades ago — we’ve been heating up the planet since the industrial age that began in the late 1800s. Yet, you still oppose Gov. Inslee’s efforts to reduce how much hotter and drier Okanogan County and the planet get.
As an Okanogan County resident, I do not thank you.
Religious haters are in the minority
I just tonight read a previous writer’s April 8 letter to the editor regarding Muslims.
I must say that I am heartened to know that just as there is only a tiny minority of Muslims who support violence and hate. Likewise, there is only a tiny minority of Christians who say such hateful and blinded comments as the writer’s.
I truly feel sorry for the writer and hope the healing power of his faith will fill his heart with understanding and love for his fellow humanity, just as I hope for any person so consumed by hate and fear.
Enloe reservoir water isn’t usable
On April 15, The Chronicle published the column “Consider reservoir before decision” dealing with the fate of Enloe Dam and suggesting Enloe could provide benefits for future drought and flood control.
Both of these issues are timely with dramatic changes in our historic weather patterns. But Enloe can never provide a solution for those issues. Details and facts will show you why:
As a small run-of-river project (meaning water in equals water out), Enloe has a reservoir that averages less than 20 feet in depth, and has an estimated 775 acre-feet of storage capacity, not nearly enough to assist with storage, flood control or additional future releases for irrigation, fish or drinking water.
The author of the column also addressed how the Enloe discussion has centered on its economic feasibility. Yes, economics are the issue. The poor economic value of Enloe (conservative estimates are that it will lose between $1.1 million and $1.5 million for each year the project generates power) and the costs of storage dams are even greater.
Those California projects mentioned in the column are estimated to cost $2.6 billion (Sites Reservoir with expected storage of 1.8 million acre-feet) to $4 billion (Temperance Flats). Since Enloe can’t provide storage, where would billions of dollars come from?
And even if you wanted to build water storage on the Similkameen, there is the issue of what do you fill it with? The column referenced the lack of snowpack. And just last week, the journal Nature Geoscience published a study showing glaciers in British Columbia would shrink 70 percent to 90 percent in area by 2100.
So, how much do you want to spend for a dam that may never fill? Regardless of your answer, certainly a small dam like Enloe will never provide even a drop in that bucket.
Editor’s note: According to analysis of U.S. Geologic Survey formulas, 775 acre-feet without water-use restrictions could provide enough water to sustain the current populations of Oroville and Tonasket for more than 2.5 years, if the reservoir were tied into a potable water system.
Remove Enloe Dam, open up river
Publisher Roger Harnack’s April 15 column gives the impression Enloe Dam acts as a flood control and a reservoir for water storage. Rather, Enloe Dam is a run-of-the-river dam which does not hold water back during the spring freshet. Sediments have filled in the reservoir that once existed.
If one visits the dam during May or June, they can see the river flowing freely over the dam, making Similkameen Falls almost completely disappear in the immense volume of water cascading down the gorge. Behind the dam the average depth of the “reservoir” is nine feet, making the volume of water held behind the dam about as much water as the river channel usually holds, not a great reservoir of water that will provide us with water during the ensuing drought times ahead.
If Enloe Dam is left in place to generate power for 50 years, it could ultimately cost ratepayers over $150 million, including construction costs, interest on the debt, subsidized annual operations and maintenance, and eventual dam removal costs. Ratepayers are already subsidizing Enloe Dam license costs.
Instead of generating such expensive power, removal of the dam could provide new habitat for the athletic steelhead, giving rise to a new economic potential for a sport fishing economy in Oroville and Loomis.
There’s more than one viable hospital
Okanogan County has more than one viable hospital; one just has to look north to North Valley Hospital and its financial position compared to Mid-Valley.
The Chronicle editorial is correct in one statement — the U.S. Highway 97 corridor hospitals from Wenatchee through Tonasket need to do a better job of collaborating care services. However, consolidation is not the only curtain to look behind, and, most likely, not the best answer to meeting the needs of individual service areas.
North Valley has been at the table with Mid-Valley and Three Rivers hospitals to identify how we can achieve economies of scale and meet the health and wellness needs of our individual communities. We intend to stay at the table. Our current leadership team is meeting with the leaders of Confluence Health this week to re-engage the discussion and intend to take the next step at the North Central Washington Hospital Council meeting scheduled at Mid-Valley Hospital.
The Chronicle should check its facts and seek content information from the players outside of Omak before printing nonsense in editorials.
P.S., the leadership at North Valley Hospital agree with The Chronicle and encourage Mid-Valley hospital district voters to support the hospital bond.
Interim CEO Ron O’Halloran
North Valley Hospital