The public is invited to celebrate Nason Ridge as a community forest

Chelan County invites the public to a celebration marking the recent establishment of Nason Ridge as the newest community forest in the state.

Nason Ridge provides important fish and wildlife habitat and is a major recreational destination in the region.

Chelan County now owns the forest and water lands, and spokeswoman Jill FitzSimmons says there will be special protections to keep the area pristine.

“What’s really important is that on those two miles of Nason Creek, which is a critical spawning stream for salmon, that means that this community forest was going to be able to take care of that in the future, and it won’t be not developed,” said Fitz Simmons.

The public celebration for the new Community Forest is taking place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the YMCA of Lake Wenatchee 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, wildlife and recreation, but also sustainable forestry,” FitzSimmons said. “And that’s what some of those important decisions will be going forward.”

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 plots to anyone who could find the money to buy Nason Ridge, which provides the forested backdrop to Lake Wenatchee.

The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust led a local community fundraising effort to save Nason Ridge from industrial logging and raised over $1 million for the purchase goal.

Western Rivers Conservancy then stepped in and purchased the land from Weherhauser to hold until a permanent solution was found.

Chelan County, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and Western Rivers Conservancy worked together to introduce Nason Ridge as a community forest to the state legislature to consider state funding to complete the purchase.

A community forest management plan was completed in time for the 2020 legislative session, with financial support from the National Office of Recreation and Conservation 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 by the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office.

Additional grants from the RCO Salmon Recovery Program, the Washington Department of Ecology, and local PUD habitat committees enabled Chelan County to complete its purchase of the property in April of this year.