The Methow Valley is a spectacular notch of cold rivers, pristine wilderness areas, rolling foothills and tiny, historic towns that cuts across eastern Washington. At the heart of the valley is the Methow River, a critical salmon and steelhead stream fed by smaller tributaries that tumble cold and clear from the North Cascade Mountains. The largest of these tributaries is the Chewuch River, where WRC has launched one of its newest conservation efforts.
On Washington’s Lake Wenatchee, a 3,714-acre parcel of forested mountainside known as Nason Ridge rises above the lakeshore, surrounded almost entirely by the Okanogan National Forest. It is crisscrossed by a network of hiking, mountain-biking and cross-country skiing trails enjoyed by people from all over, and which link to an equally robust trail system in the neighboring Lake Wenatchee State Park.
In a rare opportunity in north-central Washington, WRC is tackling the needs of conservation, community and local industry by working to acquire a property to benefit all three.
Lake Wenatchee is an alpine jewel in the North Cascades and the source of the Wenatchee River, a crucially important stream for imperiled salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other cold-water fish. Immediately downstream of the lake, a stream called Nason Creek flows into the Wenatchee, injecting the river with life-giving cold water and providing habitat for multiple species of imperiled fish.
This month, Western Rivers Conservancy completed its second land acquisition on Washington’s Big Sheep Creek, placing 1,440 more acres surrounding this critical stream on the path toward conservation. Now that we own all 2,440 acres of the Bennett Meadows Tract, we can focus on transferring this incredible assemblage of riverland, meadowland, wetlands and conifer forest into the long-term care of a conservation steward.
Big Sheep Creek is an appropriate name for this Columbia River tributary in remote northeast Washington. After flowing out of the Monashee Mountains on the Canadian border, the creek winds through an area known as “the Wedge,” a prime movement corridor for large mammals traveling between the United States and Canada. Caribou, moose, grizzly, Canada lynx, Rocky Mountain elk, wolverine and the creek’s namesake bighorn sheep all inhabit in the area. And they depend on Big Sheep Creek for the excellent habitat it provides.