Campaign to Protect Wenatchee Foothills tops $8.4 million

A large grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program has brought fundraising to save open land in the Wenatchee Foothills to more than $8.4 million, officials with the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust announced today.

The Wenatchee Foothills Campaign's original goal was $8.15 million. The two-year campaign – led by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust in partnership with The Trust for Public Land – will wrap up at year's end. The vast majority of the more than 520 donors are local community members.

The roughly $1 million state Wildlife and Recreation Program grant will allow 364 acres between Wenatchee's Broadview neighborhood and Horse Lake Road to become a city-owned natural area – permanently undeveloped and protected for people and wildlife – literally right out the city's back door.

The Wenatchee Foothills Campaign provided the $1 million required match for the grant. The Land Trust will be responsible for the long-term care and maintenance of the property, utilizing funds raised during the campaign.

Money raised in the campaign's remaining weeks will be dedicated to a trail and trailhead at Castle Rock, another spot in the Foothills, officials said. Earlier this year, the Land Trust purchased 36 acres on the lower part of Castle Rock. If successful, the final fundraising push will make the currently inaccessible iconic formation and ridgeline to the west of Wenatchee ready for visitors in the next year or two.

"After several years of hard work by many, this grant delivers us 'over the top' of our goals for the Wenatchee Foothills Campaign," said Bob Bugert, Executive Director of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. "This momentum propels us into the final six weeks of fundraising, putting us in a perfect position to add a new trailhead and trail at Castle Rock. This was always in our plans but we thought it would be several years before we got to the point where we could focus on it."

"I couldn't be more excited," said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz. "I am looking forward to the Foothills being alive with families out exploring next spring. It is great news the Land Trust has not only met its original goal but is raising funds to build additional access points, such as at Castle Rock, that are much needed."

The Wenatchee Foothills Campaign, the largest fundraising campaign ever undertaken by a nonprofit in North Central Washington, is a community initiative to save open land where the public can go to hike, bike and play, enjoying unspoiled scenery and wildlife habitat. Success is ensuring that the natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle that draws people to Wenatchee for short visits, or to live and work, stay just as breathtaking for our children and grandchildren as they are today. The Wenatchee Foothills are part of the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains, and stretch from Squilchuck State Park to the Horse Lake Reserve above the Wenatchee River.

The Foothills Campaign was motivated by a series of community meetings, attended by 1,600 people, that identified where land should be conserved, alongside places better suited for development.

Campaign endorsers and supporters include developers, real-estate professionals, property owners, conservationists, recreationists and many community organizations, including the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Wenatchee Downtown Association.

The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust is a local non-profit working to conserve our land, our water, and our way of life. The Land Trust has a 28-year record of working collaboratively with local landowners and communities to identify and protect the region's most important natural landscapes forever. Since 1985 the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust has conserved more than 6,300 acres in North Central Washington.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly 10 million people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.