The beautiful site that is up for grabs. Photo by Marilyn Hedges.

The beautiful site that is up for grabs. Photo by Marilyn Hedges.

Save the Wenatchee River Waterfront

by Mike Sorensen and the group “Save the Peshastin Mill Site Waterfront”

When was the last time you visited a Wenatchee riverfront area that was still serene and peaceful, a place where you could walk, fish  or just lie back and take in the surroundings? How about a location that offers access to some of the best steelhead fishing in the valley? Fly fishing and river recreation opportunities on the Wenatchee River are improving, thanks to a local nonprofit group that has agreed to purchase and donate 3/4 of a mile of Wenatchee River waterfront to the Department of Fish and Wildlife of Washington State. In the past 60 years the opportunity to fish the Wenatchee River shore has been significantly reduced, some by regulation and some by lack of accessibility.

Currently, the majority of fishing on the Wenatchee River is done by the use of a drift boat or raft. Those who can afford this luxury have access to the entire river, but  those who cannot afford  a boat have very limited opportunity for pristine fishing.  When I think about my grandchildren seeking a day to fish, the Peshastin Mill site waterfront is a perfect destination. Its location is wild, with the sound of wind through the trees and the rushing river. The river has a an inside curve here, so the water flow slows and there is a back eddy at the beach, a safe location for a beginning fisherman.  Fishing is still limited by regulation, and a person needs to be current about these regulations, but this property offers year round access to the Wenatchee River.

This pristine, primitive 14 acres of waterfront was purchased by E.L. Sawyer in 1928 before he built the Peshasin Lumber and Box Mill, and remains undeveloped. The more than 4,200 feet of waterfront property is low bank, with old growth pine trees and a sandy beach that offers safe summer swimming. With a healthy fishery comes abundant birds and wildlife. Bald eagles, great blue herons, ospreys and many other birds use this area in both summer and winter. This property will be available for many outdoor activities including dog walking, hiking, picnicking and will have  toilet facilities provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

When this property went on the open market a few years ago there was interest in creating a private housing development that would have eliminated any public access to this waterfront.  It was fortuitous that a long range vision of saving this public place was shared by several local residents. Robert Parlette,  Rollie Schmitten  and Bob Stroup are the co-chairmen of a joint fund drive conducted by the Complete the Loop Coalition and Trout Unlimited which is entitled, “Save the Peshastin Mill Site Waterfront”.  The Icicle chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Wenatchee Valley Fly Fishers are the fishing partners with this group.

The abutting upland 54 acres that was used as log storage for the mill throughout the mill history has been purchased by Bill and Jennie Goebel, with the vision of creating a vineyard, winery, and artisan community (see picture above).  The Goebel’s have shown their support for preservation of the waterfront property by contributing tens of thousands of dollars towards the purchase of the waterfront. Drs. Eliot and Tina Scull have generously provided matching funds for up to $100,000 for every dollar the public donates for the purchase.

We still need to raise $190,000 to complete this transaction before June 30th, 2016, in order to preserve the property in its existing primitive state for current and future generations. Join us in this effort to retain a place that is for everyone. If you would like to be part of this exceptional property preservation, your donations are tax deductable. Click on the above link to donate to the cause.

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