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Methow Valley Interpretive Center Prepares For Re-Opening

Courtesy of Methow Valley Interpretive Center

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center in Twisp was still several weeks from reopening for its 2020 season. More than two months later, the center’s operators are ready to welcome visitors, but the state’s reopening protocols won’t allow it.

The Methow Valley Interpretive Center was created to educate people about the region’s history and natural surroundings. David LaFever is the center’s education and outreach director.

“The interpretive center has displays in geology, aquatic ecology, and we have a really robust archaeology project called the Methow Artifact Research Project, where we’re actually cataloguing and collecting, if people are willing to donate them, artifacts that are found," LaFever said.

He says those artifacts help tell the story of the Methow Indian people, the area’s original inhabitants. The center also features an outdoor native plant garden and a replica of the type of pit house in which the early people lived.

“We host field trips in the spring, usually with third graders. We also usually have a summer camp. It weaves together Native American culture, crafting, art and ecology. We’re not sure we’re going to be able to run that this year," he said.

LaFever says the center normally opens by Memorial Day. But Okanogan County is still in phase one of Washington’s four-phase reopening protocol and he says the center won’t open until phase three.

With in-person activities not yet allowed, he says the interpretive center has moved some of its offerings online, for example, its Last Sunday lecture series.

“But really, we want to come together. It’s almost warm hand-to-warm-hand. I don’t want to use that expression, but there’s something that comes out of human interaction, face-to-face, that is difficult to get over the screen," he said.

The timing of the pandemic delivered one big blow to the interpretive center. The facility’s major annual fundraising event scheduled for late March was cancelled. The blow has been eased somewhat by a federal CARES Act grant, administered through Humanities Washington.

“It helped cover the shortfall of the fundraiser, as well as just not knowing what kinds of donations, membership support will we see," LaFever said.

For now, LaFever says, it’s creating a new “Seasons of the People” display and continuing to improve its existing displays, looking forward to the day it can safely reopen to the public.