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What's new, Saddle Rock?

By Kalie Wertz

The movement for a restored and sustainable Saddle Rock has begun. Thursday, September 2
6 was the kick-off to the Saddle Rock Rehabilitation supported by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. With the help of nine volunteers, a tasteful new wooden fence replaced the wire conglomeration that had previously guarded the trailhead. This project was the first step of the larger Saddle Rock rehabilitation, which is part of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust Foothills Campaign that has been working to protect and steward many properties throughout the Wenatchee foothills.

Since the Saddle Rock area was only recently acquired by the City of Wenatchee and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust – thanks to a strong community support over the past two years – the area now requires work in order to preserve it over the long haul. Saddle Rock is one of the most used parcels of land areas in the Wenatchee Foothills and has a spider web of trails, many of which are not sustainable and many of which duplicate each other.

For those who visit Saddle Rock frequently, please know that the area is not being closed. The Land Trust is simply working in the Saddle Rock Natural Area to improve the trail system, and this process will take several years. Barriers will close unsustainable or redundant trails and these trails will be decommissioned.  Decommissioned trails will be ripped with hand tools and reseeded before winter. Given that we who use the area are visitors rather than owners of the property, we should respect the landowner's wishes, use those trails they want used, and stay off those areas they are trying to restore to a more natural condition.

The Land Trust hopes the community will get involved in the various phases of restoring this iconic area. The formation of a better and larger trailhead will allow for easier access when student buses and emergency vehicles are needed to access the Saddle Rock road. The next steps in the process will require more man-power as the Land Trust aims to direct traffic toward the designated trails and away from overly steep,unsustainable, or redundant trails. Many of these trails are affecting the natural wildlife of the Saddle Rock area and are creating man-made erosion and water damage on the mountain.

Most of the trail work at Saddle Rock and on trails elsewhere in the Wenatchee foothills is performed by volunteers, and the Land Trust will need ongoing assistance with this ambitious restoration project. On Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., trail crews will start the reconditioning of trails and volunteers are needed. Contact Hanne Beener at 667-9708 or hanne@cdlandtrust.org to get involved. Also, check the full schedule of the Saddle Rock project and volunteer activities for the Land Trust at www.cdlandtrust.org/whats-new.