Wilson Ranch Spring 2023 Newsletter

May 11th, 2023

Greetings Wilson Ranch residents and happy Spring! The birds are back, the sun is out, and it’s time to say goodbye to our winter coat of snow.

In this issue:

  • Residential water meter reading
  • Local activities
  • Wildlife awareness
  • Spring Activities

News from Wilson Ranch

As the snow slowly melts, what are the the things you look forward to the most for Spring? Wildflower blooms, birds nesting, biking your favorite trails, and maybe…snakes? I recently learned that there are annual “spring snake counts” organized by the North Cascades Institute. I’ve seen (and heard) my share of snakes in our area, but going out of my way to count them sounds a like a new level of immersive experience. But who knows, maybe you’ll see me out in the field this May, searching for some new friends!

Speaking of “Spring counts”, it is almost that time of year again when I head out to your properties and take your home water meter readings. Depending on when the snow fully melts, I hope this will occur in mid to late April. Expect an email from me next month with exact dates, and for those folks that had meters that needed to be installed and/or located, I will reach out to you personally.

These readings are important as they give us an idea of individual household annual usage. It is important that our community water usage remains within the annual water rights allotment. Our goal is to more carefully monitor personal usage and then if needed, inform residents if they are using too much water. Water conservation is a major element of the guiding principles of Wilson Ranch, and the Board has been busy this past year discussing ways to cut back on water usage and pinpoint the areas that need improvement.

Winthrop Balloon Roundup

One of my favorite times of year is the Winthrop Balloon Roundup, which is held every year during the first weekend in March. This year had the perfect weather for folks to get out and photograph the hot air balloons as they took flight each morning. My family particularly loves the Balloon Night Glow, where you can walk among the hot air balloons as they inflate right on Riverside Avenue. There are countless photo opportunities, and you may even be recruited to help deflate and pack up the balloons when the evening is done! If you haven’t visited the Roundup, mark your calendars for next year!


Wildlife sighting!

For the past few months, we kept hearing reports from valley residents of moose sightings in Winthrop. Marvin even spotted a mother moose and her calf early one morning on his way into work! My family has been dreaming of seeing a moose in the valley since we moved here, and we finally spotted one, right off Highway 20 outside of Winthrop. We pulled off to the side of the road and watched it for about 10 minutes as it munched on tree branches. We were speechless, and very excited to catch this blurry picture. This moose was large and healthy, and we kept our distance. Since male moose (or “bulls”) lose their antlers every winter, we wondered if this beautiful specimen was a male or female. After a quick internet search (at first questioning if female moose or “cows” have antlers; the answer is, they don’t!) we discovered that a cow has a brown face and a dark body and a bull has a black face. Both cows and bulls have “bells”, those skin flaps found on the neck. Consensus was, maybe this was a female!

Fun facts: Antler velvet is the only mammalian organ that can continuously regenerate. Researchers have studied deer velvet for years to learn more about how this amazing transformation works and how we it can be applied to fields like regenerative medicine and wound healing.

Bull Moose can experience up to a pound of antler growth per day and will spend up to 25% of the energy from their daily food intake (35 lbs!) toward growing their antlers.

Spring Activities Around Wilson Ranch

Be on the lookout for emails about Spring and Summer meet-ups from the Community Activity Committee! I believe a meeting was held this month to discuss some Spring and Summer group events. This year we will be holding another Firewise work party event (which will be scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, but the exact date and time is still TBD), and perhaps we can organize a community BBQ or potluck after our work party this year. More info will be coming soon!

Other Firewise news is that the Firewise DNR grant was rewarded to Wilson Ranch again this year! Similar to 2022, we will be reimbursed for up to $3000 in fuel removal services. We plan on renting a chipper again and plan to chip any piles that our work party or individual home owners create. Unfortunately, the federal USFS Wildfire Resilience Grant that we participated in did not receive funding, but the Okanogan Conservation District will reapply again later this year. If funded, that grant will pay for a chipper (and operator) that will be owned by the county, but will be available for us to use as often as we like. 

Finally, we want to discuss the community burn pile. Due to early snowfall last November, Marvin was unable to burn the fuels that accumulated in 2022. There are very large piles that need to be burned, but since they are so large, they must be burned in small piles one by one. Marvin will take on this job sometime in April. Currently the soil is surprisingly still dry, so we may wait longer to begin burning. Please remember to only burn organic materials at approved locations and to follow all current guidelines on county burn restrictions and burn bans. Also consider saving any organic waste for the chipping event in late May or early June.

Please contact Rachael Plemel or Marvin Sutton with any questions