Sept. 5, 1925, must have been another beautiful late summer day in the bustling new community at the mouth of a canyon called Squilchuck. Where the trickling creek flowed into the Columbia, the Great Northern had built a huge switching facility called the Appleyard. Nearby were two hotels filled with workers, a tourist campground near the highway, a cafe, a grocery store, a post office, and new houses leading up the valley, where the orchards were nearly ready for harvest.
With the successful completion of the recent $8.67 million Wenatchee Foothills Campaign, land protected in the foothills west of Wenatchee for people and wildlife has doubled. Now our community has new opportunities, with expanded possibilities for exploring, hiking, mountain biking and riding horses. Increased use also presents new challenges. As a community we need to ensure that we use the land in a way that prevents damage and preserves the beauty of this amazing resource that is ours.
Yes, there is a problem. Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz can analyze a balance sheet, but it doesn’t take a CPA to see it: City tax revenues are stagnant, barely rising if they rise at all, with little prospect of improvement. At the same time, expenses rise, naturally and more quickly. The city’s ability to perform its duties and serve the public erodes. The economy inside the city limits no longer produces enough tax revenue to support city services at the level we have come to expect.
This historical perspective has relevance today, as we continue to sort through the myriad ways human exploitation and indifference have devastated the salmon and steelhead fisheries of the Columbia. By comparison, there was great excitement this year as fisheries agencies released their forecast for 2014 salmon returns, and predicted 1.6 million fall chinook would return to the mouth of the Columbia, plus tens of thousands of other species, such as coho, spring chinook, sockeye and steelhead.
We are excited about a new feature we’re launching in Sunday’s World — our first “Local Solutions” page, which is dedicated to creatively exploring a local issue and suggest ways that individuals can pitch in and make a difference.
We are delighted to have the Cascadia Conservation District staff now sharing our offices. They moved in at the end of last month and filled up much of the second floor of our building at 14 N. Mission St.
In legislating, in politics, doing nothing is easy. Risk is minimal, efficiency maximized. Partisanship, the art of orchestrating your opponent’s failure, is only slightly more difficult. Doing something, reaching a difficult goal for the good of the state and all its citizens, that is difficult. Bipartisanship and compromise are required almost always. Risks are great, leadership and courage essential.
Government is more engaged, efficient and transparent if the public has the means to find out what business might be on its plate. In short, with access in advance to simple information, like a meeting agenda, government will better serve the public. Easy access — online — is best.
I sit at a desk now, just a few hundreds yards from the great river called Columbia. I have looked upon this river and watched its flow, at some point, nearly every day of my adult life. I walk to it, cycle around it, fish in it, swim in it, float it and drive over it. Every day I use its power to pierce the darkness, or take nourishment from the fields and orchards its waters sustain. And every now and again I sit back and remind myself that this ...