CHELAN - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host a public grand opening of the Beebe Springs Natural Area in northeast Chelan County on Wednesday, May 12, at 2 p.m.
The 180-acre area lies along Highway 97 south of Chelan on the Lake Entiat reservoir of the Columbia River, adjacent to the Chelan Fish Hatchery.
Since 2003, WDFW has been working with a wide array of partners to create side channels to the river, restore wetlands and shrub-steppe habitat, build walking trails and install public conveniences at the site.
Although more work remains to be done, the public event is designed to let people see what has been completed to date, said WDFW Northcentral Regional Director Dennis Beich.
"Beebe Springs has been a work-in-progress for seven years and it's time to showcase our efforts," Beich said. "We want people to know that this area is open for public recreation, whether it's wildlife viewing or just enjoying some time by the river."
Beich will be the master of ceremonies at the grand opening, which will include a brief address about the project by State Senator Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee, who represents the 12th Legislative District.
Development has been funded by state legislative appropriations and Wildlife and Recreation Program grant funding from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office.
WDFW's partners in the development of Beebe Springs include a diverse stakeholder group of over 50 members, including representatives of the Chelan County Commission, Chelan School District, Chelan Public Utilities District, Colville Confederated Tribes, Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, Lake Chelan Sportsmen, Lake Chelan Recreation Association, North Central Washington Audubon Society, Port of Chelan County, and other state and federal natural resource agencies.
The group's goal for the area includes restoring habitat degraded by past use and improving fish habitat in Beebe Creek and along the Columbia River shoreline. It also includes developing a self-guided trail system with interpretive signs geared to salmon life-stages, area wildlife, native vegetation and the Native American culture.
Phase three of the Beebe Springs project will begin later this summer to create more side channels to the Columbia River, enhance wetlands, and plant upland and riparian vegetation.