Public Invited To Nason Ridge Celebration As Community Forest
Chelan County is inviting the public to a celebration marking the recent establishment of Nason Ridge as the state’s newest community forest.
Nason Ridge provides important fish and wildlife habitat and is a major recreation destination in the region.
Chelan County now owns the forest and water land, and spokesperson Jill FitzSimmons says there'll be special protections to keep the area pristine.
"What's really important is over those two miles of Nason Creek, which is a critical salmon spawning stream, this means that this community forest, we're going to be able to take care of it well into the future, and it will not be developed," said FitzSimmons.
The public celebration for the new community forest takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. too noon at Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp, 15263 North Shore Drive.
The new community forest is widely considered a treasure for both the local community and the state.
FitzSimmons says the county will prioritize the preservation of Nason Ridge.
"Of course, the priority is always fish and wildlife and recreation, but also sustainable forestry," FitzSimmons said. "And that's what will be some of these important decisions in the future."
A number of groups and partnerships were involved in the county's acquisition of Nason Ridge, which was previously owned by logging giant Weyerhauser.
In 2017, Weyerhaeuser agreed to sell the parcels to whomever could come up with the money to purchase Nason Ridge, which provides the forested backdrop to Lake Wenatchee.
The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust fronted a local community fundraising effort to save Nason Ridge from industry logging, and raised over $1 million toward the purchase goal.
Western Rivers Conservancy then stepped in and purchased the land from Weherhauser to hold in conservation until a permanent solution was found.
Chelan County, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and Western Rivers Conservancy worked together to raise awareness of Nason Ridge as a Community Forest to the State Legislature for consideration for state funding to complete the purchase.
A Community Forest Management Plan was completed in time for the 2020 Legislative Session, with financial backing coming from the State Recreation and Conservation Office and guidance from a Community Forest Advisory Committee.
The Nason Ridge Community Forest proposal was ranked first in the 2020 legislative session, and an acquisition grant for the property was awarded to Chelan County from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office.
Additional grants from RCO Salmon Recovery Program, Washington Department of Ecology, and local PUD habitat committees allowed Chelan County to close its purchase on the property in April of this year.