Chelan County is moving forward with a sustainability plan for the town of Stehekin. 

The remote destination spot at the head of Lake Chelan faces numerous challenges including growing power demands, a loss of private property and a lack of accessibility by road. 

County Economic Services Director Ron Cridlebaugh says they're going to apply for grant money to assist with the project from the state Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB). 

'They now have a grant that you can get for up to $100,000," said Cridlebaugh. "It's called a site development grant. I had a long discussion with them about that. These are economic development grants." 

County Commissioners approved a resolution allowing the application for the grant to move forward on Monday. There’ll be an effort to submit the application by the end of January. 

Cridlebaugh says they're looking to address the specific needs of Stehekin. 

"It's not going to be traditional, we've identified 50 acres of industrial property, help us get it ready," Cridlebaugh said. "This is a community that needs to find out a way to be sustainable."    

The rural unincorporated town of about 100 residents is about 45 miles northwest of Chelan and only accessible by lengthy hike or boat. It’s facing many infrastructural challenges as it heads further into the 21st century. 

For one, Chelan County PUD's local power facilities are old and the grid that serves Stehekin is described as being "stressed".  Tourism to the town continues to grow and there's a concern the demand for electricity will greatly outweigh the current system's capabilities. 

Another issue that's facing the community is its shrinking footprint on the landscape. 

Since the town is located within the North Cascades National Park, much of the land surrounding it is federally owned. When privately-held land goes up for sale, the government has an unfair financial advantage in purchasing them. There's only about 400 acres of privately-owned land remaining in Stehekin. 

A further continuing problem for the town is its lack of accessibility by road, which was greatly impacted when Upper Stehekin Valley Road was completely washed out twenty years ago. 

In the two decades since, a bitter debate has been waged by opponents of rebuilding the road who say it would have a negative impact on the environment, and proponents of the restoration who believe reconnecting the community by terrestrial means is too important to ignore. 

Other concerns facing Stehekin are worker housing needs, fire and forest health, parking at the landing and residential garbage. 

Six consultants have submitted proposals to provide planning services for the community of Stehekin. 

The Chelan County Natural Resources Department and its partners at Chelan PUD and National Park Service have been reviewing Statements of Qualifications from the six consultants.  

Cridlebaugh told county commissioners Monday there were three consultants that have set themselves apart from the others. 

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