Wenatchee Foothills Campaign will protect towns’ unique natural backdrop

The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, unveiled today a community-wide effort to keep Wenatchee’s beautiful skyline natural and open to all.

With an $8.1 million goal, this is the largest non-profit campaign ever undertaken in North Central Washington, but contributions from more than 300 donors have already raised $6.4 million, Land Trust officials said Wednesday.

“The Wenatchee Foothills are fundamentally important to the Wenatchee Valley’s character and future,” said Bob Bugert, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust Executive Director. “They create a setting that attracts top talent to the area, and boosts tourism and recreation dollars from visitors who come for everything from mountain biking to nature photography. They make us a fitter community. They are home to shrub-steppe habitat, and are critical for wildlife and clean water. And they serve as an outdoor classroom for school children and adults.”

The campaign will double the area of the Foothills open to the public to more than 6,000 acres, and ensure the land is cared for through long-term stewardship and trail restoration. Approximately $1.6 million of the $8.1 million will go toward stewardship, including for such Foothills properties as Jacobson Preserve, Sage Hills and Horse Lake Reserve. More than $400,000 will be used to restore the existing trail system.

The next key purchase will be 36 acres known as Lower Castle Rock, which will provide public access to the iconic Castle Rock formation and ridgeline to the west of Wenatchee.

“We are working with the City of Wenatchee, which is seeking additional money for trailheads and to improve access,” Bugert said. “We’ve identified good potential trailhead locations along the urban growth boundary.”

The Wenatchee 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.

“This is exactly the kind of collaboration we exist to support,” said Mike Deller, Washington State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “Helping communities save places that are truly special to them is at the heart of our mission.”

“We now invite the entire community to join our campaign and to participate in a series of events we will host around the Wenatchee Foothills, from March through the end of 2013,” Bugert added. “Look out for details on our website!”

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 property owners to identify and protect the region’s most important natural landscapes forever. For more information on the CDLT, visit www.cdlandtrust.org.

The Trust for Public Land is the nation’s leader in creating parks in cities and helping local communities create funding to protect the places they love. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres across the country, including more than 80,000 acres throughout Washington state – places where people love to live, work and play.