Northwest Fly Fishing

Protects Critical Bull Trout Habitat in Washington

In 2013, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC), www.westernrivers.org, protected a vulnerable mountainside at the edge of Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness by conveying it to the Okanogan–Wenatchee National Forest. The project forever conserves 648 acres of forest and four high-gradient tributaries that pour into a stream called Nason Creek. A tributary to the Wenatchee River, Nason Creek is a stronghold for bull trout and a major source of clean, cold water for the Wenatchee. Bull trout are a vital indicator for river health across the Northwest and are listed as threatened throughout their range.
As a result of the project, logging roads within the property will be closed, and 17 stream crossings will be removed, diminishing the threat of slides that would be disastrous for Nason Creek and the Wenatchee system. These efforts will also decrease overall sediment displacement into Nason Creek, which will improve spawning habitat for bull trout and bolster restoration efforts already in progress downstream. Conservation of these lands ensures a buffer zone on the northern boundary of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, safeguards habitat for northern spotted owls, and improves habitat connectivity for gray wolves and grizzly bears, which have begun to recolonize surrounding areas. Although access to the property is difficult, WRC’s work above Nason Creek may one day result in new trail routes into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Until then, says WRC, “we will enjoy these lands simply by knowing that they are protected forever—and that the imperiled fish of Nason Creek have a brighter future.”

 

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