The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is developing a new management plan for the Chelan Wildlife Area. The wildlife area includes about 30,874 acres of land in Chelan and Okanogan counties. WDFW acquired most of the wildlife area property as a result of a 1963 agreement with the Chelan County PUD to lessen the impact of the Rocky Reach Dam project on wildlife. The department manages the area primarily for big game and upland game birds.
Chelan Wildlife Area provides a great variety of recreational opportunities including hunting, photography, wildlife viewing, and camping. The wildlife area's numerous dirt roads, which are closed to motorized vehicles, offer good hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.
The new plan will address the status of wildlife species and their habitat, ongoing restoration efforts, management challenges such as invasive species and public recreation opportunities at the wildlife area.
Beebe Springs unit covers 162 acres with one mile of Columbia River shoreline that includes riparian, wetland and upland shrubsteppe habitats. Beebe Springs Creek meanders through the eastern portion of the property. Extensive habitat restoration began on the area in 2005 and will continue several more years. Frank's Pond was completed in 2015 and is open only to youth for fishing.
The Cashmere Pond unit is a 21-acre parcel adjacent to the Wenatchee River west of Cashmere. The unit is dominated by riparian habitat. Access to the parcel is only by boat via the Wenatchee River. Several salmon habitat improvement projects have been completed at Cashmere Pond.
The Chelan Butte unit includes 10,116 acres of land located between Lake Chelan and the Columbia River. WDFW released bighorn sheep in the area in 2004. The population is now well-established and provides excellent hunting opportunities. Upland game birds using the area include chukar, gray partridge and California quail. WDFW is in the process of restoring 1,000 acres to shrubsteppe habitat by 2021.
The Entiat unit's 7,989 acres include lands west and northwest of the town of Entiat and in the vicinity of Oklahoma Gulch, Navarre Coulee and Knapp Coulee. Upland game birds using the area include chukar, gray partridge, dusky grouse and California quail. The Entiat unit provides critical winter range for the Chelan County mule deer herd.
The Pateros unit is located north of the town of Pateros in Okanogan County and includes 1,218 acres of WDFW and Bureau of Land Management land. Shrubsteppe habitat dominates the area with good stands of bitterbrush. The area is a critical mule deer wintering area and supports a diversity of other wildlife species including raptors, white-tailed deer, chukar, gray partridge, dusky grouse and California quail.
The Swakane unit covers 10,939 acres of land located north of Wenatchee including Burch Mountain, Swakane Canyon, and Tenas George Canyon. Important mule deer wintering habitat occurs on the area and the Swakane bighorn sheep herd uses the area year round. Upland game birds using the area include chukar, gray partridge, dusky grouse, ruffed grouse and California quail. Pheasant releases are made each fall to provide hunting opportunities.
The White River unit includes several small parcels, which total 429 acres west of Lake Wenatchee. It includes wetlands and receives considerably more precipitation than the rest of the Chelan Wildlife Area. The unit borders the White River, which harbors several species of anadromous fish. WDFW manages the unit for the protection of riparian and wetland habitat that benefit fish. Mule deer, bear, cougar, blue grouse, ruffed grouse and a great variety of other species can be found on the area.