History of the Horan Natural Area

Enjoying the mallards swimming through the Horan water channels.

The Horan Natural Area occupies about 100 acres at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers. Most of the land is owned by the Chelan PUD. Management of the area is shared with Washington State Parks. The HNA has a 1-mile long dirt trail system that is open to pedestrian traffic only. The trail is accessible from both the Confluence State Park area to the north and the Walla Walla Point Park area to the south.

The Horan Natural Area (HNA) is a birding hotspot in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird database and is a stop on the Great Washington State Birding Trail. The bird checklist for the Confluence State Park/Horan area contains 250 species. The area is used by a moderate number of people.

Historically, the Horan area was home to P’squosa/Wenatchi/Wenatchapum Native Peoples. It was a well-known regional council grounds since time immemorial and was a gathering place for bands and Tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

In 1886 European settlers established a trading post at the site. In contemporary times, the Horan supported a pear orchard and a golf driving range.

The Horan Natural Area occupies the alluvial fan created by the Wenatchee River. Historically, surface water flows within the Horan included seasonal flow in Number One Canyon Creek, storm water drainage from the City of Wenatchee and Pioneer Ditch excess. Storm drain water and Pioneer Ditch flows no longer provide surface water. Seasonal flows in Number One Canyon Creek continue to provide water to the HNA today. During extreme events, the Columbia River overflows onto the Horan.

The PUD constructed a series of connected, steep-sided ponds and wetlands about 1990. Today, one pond has transformed into a cattail marsh that stores water only during high flow periods. The other ponds rise and fall with groundwater levels and provide stagnant water that is used by small numbers of a variety of waterfowl.

The Horan for Today & Into the Future

Two planning activities that could affect the future conditions in the HNA are just beginning. The City of Wenatchee is beginning to assess a new road and bridge that would alleviate North Wenatchee Avenue traffic congestion. The Chelan PUD will soon begin assessments as part of the required FERC relicensing of Rock Island Dam. Both entities are committed to improving conditions in the Horan Natural Area and to design and implement the needed improvements.

The Chelan County PUD will host two public workshops to discuss future plans for the Horan Natural Area. The Chelan County PUD website introduces their vision for the area along with a survey for you to give your input.

Eagle nest in the Horan Natural Area.

Chelan County PUD and Washington State Parks have established a collective vision for the long-term management of the South Confluence Area (SCA) within the Horan Natural Area. Our goal is to sustain a functioning ecosystem, while providing recreational access for enjoyment, education and interpretation of its historical and natural resources for future generations.

The North Central Washington Audubon Society (NCWAS) would like to encourage individuals and organizations to complete the Chelan PUD’s survey on their website, write a letter, or send an email to the Chelan PUD to support their long-term vision for the Horan area.

Current planning by the Chelan County PUD creates a unique opportunity to design and implement improvements to the Horan Natural Area. North Central Washington Audubon Society (NCWAS) supports:

  • Introduction of a reliable surface water source to supply flowing water to connect a network of ponds that are designed to enhance shorebird and waterfowl use.
  • Design and construct a cultural history site that honors the history of Native American use and reestablishes indigenous peoples’ presence in the area.
  • Construction and maintenance of an Environmental Educational Center to host displays and programs connecting all residents and communities with North Central Washington’s lands and waters.
  • Development of a vegetative management plan emphasizing the protection of culturally important plants, minimization of weeds, and enhancement of native plant species.
  • Design, construction, and maintenance of a terrestrial and aquatic trail system that encourages use of the Horan for a wide variety of multi-lingual recreational experiences.

Please send your letters or comments by November 6, 2019 to:

Michelle Smith

Director, Hydro Licensing and Compliance

Chelan County PUD

327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

Wenatchee, WA 98801


Horan Natural Area – Share Your Ideas with the Chelan PUD

Public Welcome to Attend!

November 6, 2019   11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Confluence Technology Center

285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee



Information for this article was taken from the North Central Washington Audubon Society website.

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