Critical Habitat projects are our state’s primary tool for conserving important fish and wildlife habitat. These projects protect the rich and diverse habitats in our forests, prairies, and wetlands. These funds help maintain our state’s biodiversity and protect species that are popular for hunting, birding, and other outdoor recreation, and are critical for the health of our salmon and fish populations.
The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) successfully completed the acquisition and development components of the Cashmere Canyons Preserve project. Two separate conservation easement acquisitions were secured: the donated Hay Canyon Ranch Conservation Easement was closed in 2017, and the Nahahum Canyon Ranch Conservation easement was acquired in 2020. These two adjacent conservation easements form the 2,162 acre Cashmere Canyon Preserve, which protects quality habitat for the priority species, mule deer. In addition to mule deer habitat, the Preserve is an important wildlife migratory corridor between the Wenatchee River and the higher elevation ridges of public land between the Wenatchee River and Entiat River watersheds. A full cultural resource survey was completed in 2020, and the report concluded no cultural resources were found on-site. A medium-amenity trailhead was designed in 2019 and 2020, and developed in 2020 and 2021 on the Nahahum Canyon Ranch property. The development of the trailhead was completed in April of 2021, and was formally opened in May 15, 2021. It provides 21 parking spaces, a vault toilet, and an informational kiosk, as well as other minor amenities. The Land Trust worked with volunteers and contractors to improve existing old road beds as trails, and constructed several new segments of trail. There are currently 8.5 miles of trail open for public use. The Preserve is open to foot traffic only; no dogs, bicycles, horses, or motorized use are allowed. CDLT staff and the landowner developed and agreed to the Cashmere Canyons Preserve Recreation Management Plan, which is subject to the two aforementioned conservation easements. Per the responsibilities assigned in this recreation management plan, CDLT staff visited the Preserve frequently in 2021, interacting with and educating visitors about the Preserve, the habitat protected, and any restrictions on public access. In the winter of 2022, CDLT and the landowner agreed to a seasonal closure of the Preserve form Jan 15, 2022 to March 31, 2022 to better protect wintering mule deer and habitat from unnecessary disturbance.