A significant swath of working forest lands near Wenatchee could be set aside for public and other uses down the road. Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently announced an agreement with Chinook Forest Partners, an Oregon-based timberlands management group with working forests in Oregon and Washington state, that would allow for greater community involvement in the future ownership and management of forested lands in Chelan County.
Said Trust for Public Land’s Wenatchee-based senior project manager Ann Welz:
“The agreement between CFP and TPL creates the opportunity for the Larger Wenatchee community to influence the future ownership and management of these lands in line with the vision established by the Upper Wenatchee Community Lands Plan. We could not be more ready to go to work with CFP and our Wenatchee-community partners on realizing the community’s vision for these working lands and ensure other uses of those lands critical to their environmental and economic needs are part of their future.”
The arrangement would allow TPL, a national nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to the outdoors for all, to purchase about 35,000 acres in Chelan County in the span of seven years from CFP. The outlined plan also would have both CFP and TPL collaborate with Chelan County, Wenatchee-area communities, adjacent landowners as well as federal, state and tribal agencies to develop and implement the transition of the private working forest lands into new ownership for the benefit of the public.
Said Chinook Forest Partners managing partner and chief sustainability officer Kelly Droege:
“When we acquired these lands, we understood their significance to the Wenatchee community and the broader regional landscape. Thanks to our prior experience working with TPL and the work TPL has done to develop the Upper Wenatchee Community Lands Plan, we were able to see how our investment in these private timberlands would allow us to pursue the best outcome for our clients, the people of Chelan County and the Upper Wenatchee ecosystem.”
The new ownership would continue to manage the land for wildfire risk mitigation, recreation, supporting wildlife and other uses. Both CFP and TPL representatives tout the deal as a monumental transaction that will help promote the health and quality of life for Chelan County residents and beyond while helping to protect a nature-rich area for generations.
Next steps include establishing a work group that includes local and regional stakeholders, community partners and groups that participated in the Upper Wenatchee Community Lands Plan project.