The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is suing Chelan County and two companies - Ravenwing Ranch LLC and Columbia River LLC - over a planned resort in a remote area containing sensitive wildlife habitat. 

The lawsuit says the county granted the company a permit to mine loose rock known as "talus" to generate gravel for use on a road to the resort. 

Fish and Wildlife claims the gravel permit violates the county's critical area ordinance as well as the state Environmental Policy Act and should be reversed. 

In 2023, Ravenwing Ranch approached Chelan County for permission to remove loose surface rock within the property to crush for gravel to use on a road within and adjacent to the project. 

The county required Ravenwing to apply for a conditional use permit to authorize the gravel mining. Ravenwing proceeded to do so and was granted the permit by the Chelan County Hearing Examiner.  

The permit allows the developer to mine 8,000 to 11,000 cubic yards of gravel to use for the proposed resort, which is planned in the foothills west of Wenatchee. 

The Fish and Wildlife Department had warned against the gravel mining project, saying the undeveloped area potentially qualified as a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Area. 

The department specified that the “Talus slopes provide a habitat for a variety of native wildlife and avian species." 

The Fish and Wildlife Department says it’s aggrieved and adversely affected because the permit allows damaging work (removal of talus) to occur in dedicated open space that was supposed to be protected against any disturbance under county permit conditions. 

The department says the work will harm critical habitat by completely removing the habitat, which is the talus. 

Fish and Wildlife says it’s responsible for designating critical habitats and coordinating with local governments to ensure critical habitats are protected. 

The case will be heard next Tuesday in Chelan County Superior Court. 

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