In a rare opportunity in north-central Washington, WRC is tackling the needs of conservation, community and local industry by working to conserve an important 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 tributary called Nason Creek flows into the Wenatchee, injecting the river with life-giving cold water and providing habitat for 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 forested property that WRC purchased from Weyerhaeuser, a Washington-based timber company, in 2018. 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.
Given the importance of Nason Ridge to fish, wildlife and people alike, WRC and the community of Lake Wenatchee, including the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT), are working to preserve this critically important landscape. 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.
WRC has purchased the property from Weyerhaeuser and, together with CDLT, is now working to 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 fauna. It provides foraging habitat for endangered northern spotted owl and is 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.
Our 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.