Washington U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray along with 8th District Congresswoman Kim Schrier are announcing $7 million for the Upper Wenatchee Watershed Community Lands Plan. 

Phase one of the funding aims to restore ecosystems to help make Wenatchee, Cashmere, and Leavenworth more resistant to wildfire damage. 

The Upper Wenatchee Community Lands Plan, or UWCLP is a joint effort of Chelan County, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. It was created in 2016. 

The UWCLP identifies ecological and community values for development, forestry, recreation, and conservation across the Upper Wenatchee Watershed, including 35,000 acres in private ownership by three different owners since the plan was completed. 

The $7 million in federal money coming from the Land and Water Conservation Fund will support the Trust for Public Land’s project to acquire a portion of the 35,000 acres from the current owner Chinook Forest Partners, which does not plan to be the long-term owner. The Trust for Public Land intends to give the land to the U.S. Forest Service.

"The community identified these lands as being very important to public recreation, wildfire risk reduction, and other community values, said Trust for Public Land consultant Peter Dykstra. "Moving it from private ownership into public ownership will allow us to maintain those community values in perpetuity."

In addition, the funding will be used to help restore downstream fish habitat, increase recreation access, and protect the habitat for threatened and endangered species. 

The threatened and endangered species covered under the funding include grizzly bears, gray wolves, northern spotted owls, Upper Columbia steelhead and spring Chinook, and Mid-Columbia bull trout. 

According to a joint news release from Cantwell, Murray, and Schrier, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the country’s most successful conservation program. 

The release says the fund helps support Washington state’s outdoor recreation economy, which is responsible for 264,000 jobs, $26.5 billion in annual spending, and $12 billion in wages and salaries.  

Since its creation in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has supported more than 600 projects in Washington state. 

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