December 18, 2012

Purchase on Nason Creek Boosts Restoration Effort in Salmon Country

Photography | Photo: Nason Creek, by Lee Rentz.

As stunning fall colors washed over Central Washington’s salmon country, Western Rivers Conservancy protected a major source of clear water for the Wenatchee River: Nason Creek.

With superb habitat for spring Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout, Nason Creek has been the focus of several restoration efforts to improve the health of the greater Wenatchee system.

WRC recently purchased 648 acres near Leavenworth and conveyed the land to be part of the surrounding Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This will conserve a vulnerable mountainside adjoining the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where four tributaries pour from pristine lakes into Nason Creek.

With logging removed as a threat, the National Forest will decommission 17 bridges and stream crossings – some of them failing – along with a network of logging roads on the land. This will prevent debris and sediment from being washed downstream, which could degrade fish runs.

The effort is especially important given what’s happening just downstream, where an old railroad has cut off Nason Creek from its original channel since the 1800s. Large-scale restoration is already underway here to reconnect side channels, restore the original stream location and expand salmon and trout habitat. WRC has coordinated with the partners on the channel restoration — the U.S. Forest Service, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, area tribes, Chelan County and others — to protect the vulnerable mountainside upstream so their efforts aren’t compromised by sedimentation.

The property preserves a beautiful view from Highway 2 and offers the opportunity for new trail routes to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness next door. Hikers, backpackers, anglers and skiers will enjoy improved access to this sublime outdoor playground.

Nason Creek is the third Wenatchee River tributary WRC has worked to protect over the past two decades. Previous projects on the Little Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek bolstered critical spawning grounds for the only healthy sockeye salmon run remaining in the Northwest.

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