From a press release – Western Rivers Conservancy and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust have launched an effort to permanently conserve a property of immense importance to Washingtonians and to the fish and wildlife of the Wenatchee River, Lake Wenatchee and the North Cascade Mountains.
In March, WRC signed an agreement to purchase the parcel, which spans 3,714 acres, including a steep, forested and highly visible mountainside on the southeastern shore of Lake Wenatchee, from Weyerhaeuser Company.
The Weyerhaeuser land is permitted for logging, but the company has agreed to sell it given the importance of the property to the community. To keep the forest intact, WRC, CDLT and the community around Lake Wenatchee must raise $1 million to fund the acquisition.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Curt Soper, executive director of CDLT, “The Land Trust has been working since 2000 to conserve this property and support public access. Weyerhaeuser has made the exemplary decision to sell these lands to Western Rivers Conservancy so our forests can stay standing, healthy and utilized. The challenge we now face is raising the money needed to make it happen. When we do, we will protect not just a forest, but a river, a lake, a cherished recreational resource, and the very fabric of our community.”
A network of trails crisscross the property and are used year-round by hikers, mountain-bikers, cross-country skiers and other recreationists from north-central Washington and beyond.
The property is equally important for its conservation values. Its southern reaches flank Nason Creek, which has been a focus for fisheries restoration for years and supports eight cold-water fish species, including spring Chinook, summer steelhead, bull trout, sockeye, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and mountain whitefish. Nason Creek flows into the Wenatchee River just downstream from Lake Wenatchee and provides critical cold water and prime habitat for important fish species.
The property’s northern half encompasses a forested mountainside above Lake Wenatchee, from just above the lakeshore to the ridgetop, and forms a crucial part of the viewshed for Lake Wenatchee State Park and homeowners along the lake.
“This project has everything WRC looks for when we set out to conserve a property,” says Sue Doroff, president of WRC, “It will benefit multiple species of wild fish, critical wildlife habitat, and the people of Lake Wenatchee by safeguarding local recreation in an area that people from all over Washington have come to cherish. We are thrilled that Weyerhaeuser has decided to work with WRC to protect this important place.”
In addition to conserving river habitat, the project will protect prime habitat for diverse wildlife, including mountain goat, Rocky Mountain elk, pine marten, northern spotted owl and other important species.