Nancy Napp leaves a rich legacy

June 11, 2011

The Gorge community lost a bright light this spring when Parkdale resident Nancy Napp died on March 27. But through her efforts, it has gained an important wetland that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

The public is invited to a walking tour of the Nancy Napp Memorial Ecological Refuge today, June 11, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The refuge is located at 986 Snowden Road in White Salmon.

"We wouldn't be where we are today without Nancy," said Stephen Finn who, with his wife Sharon Philpott, owns the property where the wetland is located. "Nancy taught me that education is the key difference between total disregard of the environment and proper management of the environment."

Nancy's life was rooted in a love for nature and the outdoors. After earning a bachelor's degree in botany, she worked as a botanist for the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service. During the last 10 years, she had her own environmental consulting business in the Gorge.

Finn hired her several years ago when the owner of property adjacent to his on Snowden Road known as "the dump" began draining the wetland on the property in preparation for development.

"Nancy's responsibility was to do an assessment and a wetland delineation to prove that, in fact, this area had historically been a wetland and should remain a wetland and should be designated as such," said Cathryn Whitman, a close friend of Nancy and her family (which includes her husband, Wes Lapp, and daughter, Zan).

Through Nancy's efforts, the area was eventually determined to be a Class 1 wetland, the highest quality of wetland.

Because of certain requirements for the designation - including the necessity of a large buffer zone surrounding it - Nancy encouraged Finn to approach the landowner and try to buy him out, with the goal of restoring and permanently preserving the wetland.

Finn bought the property (for almost $250,000 more than the seller had paid), then encountered still more problems when Klickitat County informed him the area was actually forest land and it could exercise its timber rights and increase his taxes.

Finn wound up having to get the area rezoned from forest to open space recreational use.

"Nancy was the key to all of this because she was able to provide the historical data on the meadow," Whitman said. During her research, Nancy discovered that the wetland recharges an important aquifer.

"What's being protected is water that White Salmon drinks," Whitman said.

Throughout the years-long process, Nancy's knowledge and levelheadedness was vital.

"Nancy's stance was, there's got to be a peaceable means to do this," Whitman said. "That was the essence of who Nancy was. She was always looking for the peaceable solution that was going to protect the environment."

Nancy worked passionately on the wetland restoration even after she was diagnosed with anal cancer more than a year-and-a-half ago.

All told, Finn has 120 acres that he is working to designate as a conservation easement in perpetuity. In keeping with Nancy's vision for the area as an ecological preserve and education center, the acreage will be dedicated as the Nancy Napp Memorial Ecological Refuge and be managed by the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute.

"I'm so thankful Nancy will have a lasting legacy with this memorial," Whitman said. "Her life was well spent. It wasn't long-lived, but it was rich and it was full."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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