Land near Lake Chelan protected for climate resiliency, wetlands and wildlife habitat
WENATCHEE — The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) has acquired over 2,100 acres about 7 miles south of Chelan for permanent conservation. This conservation project is made possible thanks to a contribution from Rio Tinto, a leading global mining and metals company, which has been managing restoration and mitigation efforts at the Holden Mine, 40 miles up Lake Chelan, over the last nine years.
The property, named Chelan Coulees Reserve, will be owned by the Land Trust and managed with an emphasis on fire safety, wetland preservation, adaptation to climate change, and habitat for wildlife. It adjoins mostly United States Forest Service property and as such presents a unique opportunity for conservation of connected lands that will never be developed or fragmented into multiple small ownerships.
As the “Backside” of Bear Mountain Ranch, the property was acquired and had been maintained as a private wildlife reserve for the last 50 years by Jerry Scofield up until his death. His widow Mary Pat Scofield, spokesperson for the family, is delighted with CDLT becoming the permanent owner and steward of this land. “This is a legacy to my husband’s vision for responsible development that values the beauty of the land and the creatures who live there,” said Mrs. Scofield.
The Holden Mine has been closed since the 1950’s. While it was never owned or operated by the company, Rio Tinto assumed financial responsibility for remediation of the mine when it acquired Alcan.
Rio Tinto has completed the majority of the Holden Mine remediation, including construction and operation of a state-of-the-art water treatment plant. The contribution to support the permanent preservation and conservation of land by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust was made as part of environmental offsets for work on the Holden remediation project.
Rio Tinto Closure Americas General Manager Steve Bourn said: “By supporting the permanent conservation of this important wildlife reserve, we aim to deliver lasting environmental outcomes for the Lake Chelan area. This builds on the transformation we have seen with the remediation of the Holden site, which is a great source of pride for us. Our goal is to leave a positive legacy for future generations, taking into account environmental and community considerations. The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust is an outstanding partner in preserving this property and we are confident they will be good stewards of the land.”
“This wetland mitigation is another long-lasting benefit of the ongoing Holden Mine Remediation on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The USDA Forest Service, partner agencies (US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington Department of Ecology, US Fish and Wildlife Service) and the Yakama Nation worked with Rio Tinto to come up with a good solution to mitigating wetlands impacted at the former mine site. The long-term conservation of this area will support native species and habitats unique to the Chelan area and will provide benefits for generations to come,” said Mario Isaias-Vera, U.S. Forest Service Remedial Project Manager.
CDLT contributed a portion of the project funding with a grant from the Resilient Landscapes Conservation Fund of Oregon Community Foundation. Owen Wozniak, the land transactions program manager at the Land Trust Alliance, notes “The Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes Initiative applies cutting-edge science to identify projects that help nature and people adapt to a changing climate. By connecting public lands from the Cascade Crest almost to the edge of Lake Chelan, the Chelan Coulees Reserve will help species shift their ranges in a warmer and drier climate. We’re thrilled to support it.”
For more information about Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes Initiative visit: https://www.landtrustalliance.org/pacific-northwest-resilient-landscapes-initiative.