The Importance of Nason Ridge
In a rare opportunity in north-central Washington, WRC, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and Chelan County together tackled the needs of fish, wildlife and people by conserving Nason Ridge, a 3,714-acre property on the shores of Lake Wenatchee and Nason Creek. 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 tributary called Nason Creek flows into the Wenatchee, injecting the river with life-giving cold water and providing habitat for imperiled fish.
Nason Ridge is also important for wildlife, with foraging habitat for endangered northern spotted owl and located within designated recovery areas for grizzly bear and gray wolf. The property supports Roosevelt elk, mountain goat and pine marten (all Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Priority Species) as well as mountain lion, bald eagle and golden eagle.
Homeowners on the eastern shore of Lake Wenatchee have a stunning view of the mountains rising above the water, including Nason Ridge. People from the community and throughout Washington cross-country ski, hike and mountain bike on Nason Ridge’s network of trails, which link to the neighboring Lake Wenatchee State Park. Most importantly, the property’s forest is crucial to the health of Nason Creek and the Wenatchee River.
Western Rivers Conservancy Buys Nason Ridge
In 2018, WRC negotiated a deal to purchase the property from Weyerhaeuser Company, a Seattle-based timber company. WRC then joined forces with CDLT, Chelan County and the local community to raise funds to permanently protect Nason Ridge by conveying it to a steward that could keep the property intact and in public hands forever. If a private buyer had acquired the property, it is highly likely it would have been parceled up, developed and closed to the public. 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.
Creating Nason Ridge Community Forest
Following WRC’s purchase of Nason Ridge, the partners needed to raise $6 million to pay for the conveyance of the property to Chelan County, and to underwrite its stewardship as a community forest and public recreation area. Together, CDLT, WRC and local community members raised over $1 million in private funds. The partners then spearheaded an effort to raise the remaining funds through a variety of public and private sources, including $3 million from the Washington State Community Forest Program and the remainder from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Chelan PUD Tributary Fund, the Grant PUD Priest Rapids Coordinating Committee, the Washington Department of Ecology, private foundations and others.
Once the $3 million was approved by the Washington State Legislature, a new future was locked in for the property: The Nason Ridge Community Forest. WRC successfully conveyed Nason Ridge to Chelan County in April 2022.
WRC’s work at Nason Ridge builds on our 2013 effort upstream, where we conserved a vulnerable mountainside above Nason Creek, at the very edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Funding for the Nason Ridge project was provided by the Washington State Community Forest Program, the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Chelan County PUD’s Tributary Fund, Grant County PUD’s Priest Rapids Coordinating Committee, Washington Department of Ecology, the Columbia River Fund, a grantmaking fund created by Columbia Riverkeeper and administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, James M. Lea Foundation, The Conservation Alliance, Icicle Fund, Horizons Foundation, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and many individual donors and organizations.