Chelan County Natural Resources Discuss Leavenworth Mill Dam Rehabilitation Project
Chelan County’s Natural Resource Department is looking to rehabilitate the old Leavenworth Mill Dam site in order to address safety concerns within the Wenatchee River.
Natural Resources Director Mike Kaputa said the Leavenworth Mill Dam Rehabilitation and Recreation Improvement Project would help improve river safety, restore natural vegetation, and rehabilitate the dam structure near the Barn Beach area in Leavenworth.
Kaputa said that for the past six years, the increase in tourism and recreational activity has increased concerns regarding hazardous river conditions on the Wenatchee River, with remnants of timber and rebar metal still in the river.
“The other sort of danger that we've seen is that sometimes people who are floating the river don't get out at that location,” Kaputa explained.
Kaputa says his department suggested adding more signs around Barn Beach to point towards areas where tubers can pull off from the river, referencing the multiple drownings and search and rescues that occurred in that area last summer.
His department also considered moving some boulders into the river to be utilized as a passive “play feature” for the proposed Whitewater Park.
For the past two years, Chelan County Natural Resources has been working on a ‘Whitewater Park Feasibility Study,’ tracking the potential impacts of a new recreational park at various spots along the Wenatchee River.
This study previously looked at six different locations, with the Dryden Dam site ranking highest in priority. However, the location was pivoted towards the Leavenworth Mill Dam site instead, due to utility infrastructure issues and land use concerns from the Yakama Nation, eliminating the Dryden site as an option.
Kaputa said they are hoping to finish the public outreach portion of this project in the next six months. Afterwards, his department will look into which project component they want to tackle first.
The Natural Resource department plans to discuss the Leavenworth Mill Dam Rehabilitation and Recreation Improvement Project with Leavenworth City Council on Feb. 28 and to participate in a Leavenworth community forum on May 2, 2023.