Rural Changes in the Methow Valley

Pastoral scene in the Methow Valley.

We all see that the Methow Valley is changing. New people, new houses, crowded trailheads—it’s clear that something is happening to the place we know and love. At the same time, we have new community members, new board members, and increased energy surrounding zoning and housing issues. The changes we see happening in the Methow Valley aren’t all bad.

Over the past two years, TwispWorks conducted a Comprehensive Economic Study that analyzes every aspect of the economy—from tourism and recreation to residential building and non-profits. We now have an idea how many second homeowners and remote workers live in the Methow Valley. We know how much time they spend here and what they contribute to our economy and community. Part of these changes are structural. The national shifts in our economy from manufacturing to service-based industries and the acceleration of remote work due to Covid-19 are changes we see here in the Methow Valley, and many of them are here to stay.

We also heard from over 1,000 respondents about their fears, hopes, and visions for the future of the Valley. Residents spoke out on affordable housing, gentrification, growth, and the loss of place. They talked about the need for intentional development and climate change initiatives to address poverty and wildfires. Overall, we received over 2,500 qualitative comments on the nature of our Valley and what we envision for the future. We are excited to present these findings in the TwispWorks Comprehensive Economic Study, available soon on our website.

Many of you are attending the class series, Rural Changes in the Methow Valley, a collaboration between TwispWorks and the Methow Conservancy. This class brings together TwispWorks’ Economic Study by Julie Tate-Libby and research on the Methow watershed by biologist Julie Grialou. We believe collaborations like this can help solve important issues facing our community. For more information email: jtate-libby@twispworks.org.