Photo by Dr. Ellen Bishop
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.
The property also spans 2.5 miles of Nason Creek, a critical source of cold, clean water for the Wenatchee River and a lifeline for imperiled salmon, steelhead and bull trout that depend on the stream for survival. Nason Ridge is a highly visible swath of the mountainside and part of the scenic splendor of Lake Wenatchee, which sits in a bowl of conifer-blanketed mountains in north central Washington.
Until last month, the future of all of this—public access, the trail system, the views, the forest and the stability of the very slopes themselves—was uncertain. That future took a positive turn in June, when Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the land from Weyerhaeuser, a Seattle based timber company that put the property on the market following local opposition to a planned clear-cut.
WRC jumped on the opportunity to conserve the property, which could have been logged, parceled up, developed and permanently closed to the public. Because the property is easily accessible from State Highway 2, which travels along Nason Creek, and is a major artery between Seattle (just two hours to the west) and eastern Washington, it would be highly attractive for development. But given its importance to fish and wildlife, WRC had a different vision for the property, the same one held by the community of Lake Wenatchee and beyond: conserving the land in perpetuity, for all to enjoy.
WRC acquired the property in June, and launched a fundraising campaign with the Wenatchee-based Chelan-Douglas Land Trust to raise the money needed to permanently conserve the property. For now, WRC will hold the land, allowing public use and enjoyment of the property while we work to secure funding to permanently protect this special place.