Thursday, June 18, 2015

Peshastin Mill Site: Preserve or Develop?

The Wenatchee River is a place dear to so many of us living in Chelan County.  Our local waterway affords excellent recreation opportunities-from hiking and biking, to rafting and fishing. It’s also a habitat for many hundreds of species of birds, bugs, fish and mammals. The iconic Wenatchee River and the animals that call it home may be getting more protection soon-and with it some bonus public access. If everything goes as planned, the Peshastin Mill will become property of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sometime next summer.

The Peshastin Mill is currently owned by the Port of Chelan County who in 2006 abandoned initial plans to turn the property into a business park due to the expenses of developing the site. Last summer the Port of Chelan County officially began looking for suitors to purchase the 14 acre site.

What this means is that the longest continual stretch of undeveloped waterfront remaining between Leavenworth and Peshastin will be protected and public access to the area will be allowed. Several local groups saw the opportunity to preserve the natural qualities of this site and keep it open to the public. The Complete the Loop Coalition (CTLC) and its partners have signed an earnest money agreement (which is like paying a security deposit) to demonstrate their intentions to raise the $475,000 it would take to purchase the 14 acres of riverfront. 

$475,000 is a lot of money for groups like the Icicle Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited, the CTLC and their local partners. Through an anonymous donation of $50,000 and a challenge match gift of $100,000 from Dr. Elliot Scull, a potential $150,000 has already been raised. That leaves just about one year to raise the remaining $325,000. Lacking the resources for long term management, after purchasing the property CTLC plans to hand it over to the Forest Service.

If you’re interested in joining the cause to protect this stretch of river from development and keeping it open to the public, check out