CNW Fire Dispatch #8 – Loss at Scanlon Lake

CNW Fire Dispatch #8 – Loss at Scanlon Lake

Conservation Northwest / Aug 31, 2015 / Wildfire

Burnt forest above Scanlon Lake on August 30th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Andy Held

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth of our fire dispatches from staff and colleagues that live or work in the areas impacted by this year’s fires. 

By Andy Held, Conservation Northwest Boardmember. Andy also serves on the board of Wilderness Awareness School. HE has used the land around Scanlon Lake for many years.

My life changed at Scanlon Lake. I first spent a week exploring 800 acres around the lake in the Lime Belt west of the Okanogan River. I shared the week with bears and cougar and countless other creatures, and some very close friends. We did most of our explorations at night trying to see and not be seen.

There was a cabin on part of that land. Our friend Chris owned it and lived there. We spent one night sneaking up on Chris’s cabin to explore the mysteries she had hidden there for us to find. Our days were spent in contemplation, and practicing skills so our nights would be richer. I learned about the protector spirit in me during that week.

When Chris died without a will, her separated parents became owners of her land. She had wanted the land to be conserved as it was and to be used as we used it. With a group of like-minded folks we raised the money to purchase the land from her estate. We worked with Conservation Northwest’s partner, the Okanagan Land Trust, to get a conservation easement on the land. Folks worked countless hours this most recent winter to remove dry brush, dead trees and other ladder fuels so a low intensity ground fire would promote the health – not destroy – the forest on the property.

Burnt forest near Scanlon Lake on August 30th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Andy Held
Burnt forest near Scanlon Lake on August 30th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Andy Held

As I write this today, the Okanogan Lime Belt Fire is still burning near Scanlon Lake. The cabin was lost. My friend Emily was living at the cabin with her daughter. They are homeless. I grieve for the countless creatures who have died; for the blood, sweat, and tears of the men and women who are fighting these fires.

I am open to the possibility of rebirth and renewal to come at Scanlon Lake. But I am not there yet. It feels like a piece of my heart has burned – the painful flames are still burning.

Editor’s Note: The rain over the past few days is a big help for fire response efforts. However, many areas are not in the clear yet. Portions of the Wolverine, Okanogan, North Star, Kettle and Carpenter Road fires will likely burn until we get weeks of drenching fall rains.

For the latest official fire updates, we recommend Inciwebthis GIS map, and the Okanogan County Emergency ManagementChelan County Emergency ManagementColville Tribes Emergency ServicesStevens County Fire District #1 and Ferry County Sheriff’s Office / 911 Facebook pages.

We also want to express deep gratitude to all the firefighters, first responders, National Guard, U.S. Army servicemen and women, and all the other heroes working to keep our communities safe during this demanding fire season. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted.