In just a few weeks, the Wenatchee Valley will celebrate what has become an unofficial holiday around here: The opening of the Wenatchee Foothills Trails on April 1.
Until then, we close our eyes and imagine ourselves up there — running, hiking or biking along the rolling trails high above town, with views of the Columbia River, of the entire valley. Soon we will watch the shrub steppe hills turn a soft, velvety green. We will once again be reminded of the wisdom this community displayed when it decided to protect the foothills and our access to them.
Over many years and through the efforts of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, the city of Wenatchee and an enthusiastic community, land has been acquired or reserved for open space. A trail system has been planned, mapped, expanded and maintained with volunteer labor. Trailheads and parking have been funded and built for public access at strategic locations, with reduced impact on adjacent neighborhoods.
And on Friday, we learned the public’s access to the foothills will soon expand even further.
The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust announced that it is partnering with private landowners to conserve more than 2,000 acres in Hay and Nahahum Canyons in Cashmere. The agreement will permanently protect the land, to be known as the Cashmere Canyons Preserve, from development.
The Land Trust says it will open more than 10 miles of trails throughout the Cashmere Canyons to the public once a trailhead is built in a few years, and we look forward to that opening with great anticipation. We look forward to exploring the hills above Cashmere, surrounded by wildflowers and birdsong.
To the landowners — Jabe Blumenthal, Julie Edsforth and Don Poirier — who have placed a conservation easement on the property, this community thanks you. Generations of Wenatchee Valley residents will thank you.
To the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, we continue to appreciate the work you do to protect the natural world all around us, to conserve the foothills so that native plants and wildlife have a chance to thrive.
The Wenatchee Valley possesses an asset like no other. No city we can think of can boast of such an amenity — trails to the natural world at our back door. And isn’t this a lovely thought: Because of generosity and foresight, this natural beauty will be out there, protected, for a very long time to come.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Managing Editor Cal FitzSimmons, Features Editor Marco Martinez and Editorial Page Editor Kelli Scott.