WRC Blog

WRC Poised to Conserve Cherished Mountainside and Prime Habitat

Apr 24th, 2018  |  Written by Western Rivers Conservancy

WRC Poised to Conserve Cherished Mountainside and Prime Habitat
Photo by Chelan Douglas Land Trust

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.

Homeowners on the eastern shore of the Lake Wenatchee have a stunning view of the mountains rising above the water, including Nason Ridge, a 3,714-acre forestedproperty owned by Weyerhaeuser, a Washington-based timber company. People from the community and throughout Washington cross-country ski, hike and mountain bike on the Nason Ridge property and in the adjacent state park. Most importantly, the property’s forest is crucial to the health of Nason Creek (two miles of it flow through the property) and the Wenatchee River.

Given this property’s importance to fish, wildlife and people alike, WRC, Weyerhaeuser and the community of Lake Wenatchee all wish to see the lands protected. WRC is bringing these interests together to preserve this critically important landscape. Should a private buyer acquire the property, it is highly likely it would be parceled up, developed and closed to the public. After all, it is one of the largest developable properties between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass, a popular second-home and vacation destination within a two-hour drive of Seattle.

WRC’s goal is to purchase the property from Weyerhaeuser and, together with the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, raise the private-sector contributions needed to transfer the lands to a long-term steward. Our vision is to ensure permanent public access and forever protect the property for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

In addition to fish, the property supports diverse wildlife. It provides foraging habitat for endangered northern spotted owl and is located within designated recovery areas for both grizzly bear and gray wolf.

The project builds on WRC’s 2013 effort upstream, where we conserved a vulnerable mountainside above Nason Creek, at the very edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.