An extraordinary partnership, a unique collaboration for conservation, has accomplished something remarkable in the mountain heights south of Wenatchee. Some 4,000 acres of beautiful forest and meadow in the Stemilt Basin, land once destined for piecemeal logging or residential development for the well-heeled, is now in the public domain, preserved for all time. Its enormous value as wildlife habitat and watershed to irrigate thousands of acres is preserved. Public access and recreation will not be denied.
We are grateful to a group of determined people who fought for years to conserve the land. The Stemilt Partnership is a joining of 25 groups — representing agriculture, conservation, recreation, government, and simply concerned citizens — that began seven years ago out of concern for the future of the land. Through its efforts, led by Chelan County, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the 4,000 acres is now in protected status. The land was acquired from willing private sellers, Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands, the transaction closing May 12. Some 3,370 acres transfers to Chelan County, and 640 to the Department of Fish and Wildlife as an addition to the Colockum Wildlife Management Area. Chelan County and the Wildlife Department have agreed to management the land cooperatively and are working on an operating agreement. Public input will be sought in the land’s management.