NEW TRAIL COMING TO CHELAN
by Richard Uhlhorn
The Lake Chelan Trails Alliance was formed in 2016 with the plan to build and promote Trails in the Lake Chelan Valley. “Our mission is to get out in front like Wenatchee and the Methow have,” said Guy Evans who was present at the Chelan City Council meeting on November 26 to give an overview of the groups ambitions and its new upcoming trail in Reach 1 of the Chelan River Gorge.
According to Evans to permitting is complete, a required cultural survey is completed and the trail is ready for construction this coming Spring. “It will be 1.8 mile dirt trail,” said Evans. The lower loop will be constructed in the 100 year flood plain down to the riparian zone.
The trail will access the river area of Reach One.
The Alliance has $10,000 budgeted for the construction. “We plan on bringing in a bobcat (trail machine),” Evans told the council. The trail will be maintained by the Alliance. “It is designed to be low maintenance like trails at Echo Ridge.”
The new Reach 1 Trail will take off from the existing PUD Trail and take the hiker into Reach One by the river and around a loop.
Chelan County PUD requires that the City of Chelan be involved and ultimately responsible for the trail. Current City Administrator Mike Jacksonsaid that the City’s liability is covered by State Recreational Law and the City’s insurer (WCIA). “The Alliance is also insured,” said Jackson.
City Attorney Quentin Batjer gave a broad overview of the PUD/City contract for the trail on PUD property. “The PUD doesn’t like contracts with private entities,” said Batjer. The agreement is for 10 years, but can be terminated by a one year notice. “It will have to be approved by the PUD before anything happens.
The trail construction will be accomplished with volunteer labor to escape the “Prevailing Wage” law. Volunteers will be required to sign waivers.
Two contracts will be in place; one between the City and PUD and the second between the City and Alliance.
Councilman Ray Dobbs asked what the financial impact will be for the City. Jackson replied that it will be minor. “This is a perfect relationship between local government and private enterprise. It doesn’t obligate the PUD or the City.”
The future plan is to extend the trail up on the plateau above the new trail.
The PUD Reach Trail System proposals were first outlined in the Lake Chelan Trails Association’s Comprehensive Trail Plan which was finalized in October, 1995 after five years and close to $10,000 to complete.
During the Relicensing process of the Chelan Dam, the team concerned with recreation requested that the PUD provide recreational trails in Chelan River’s Reach 1 and 2. It was also requested that Reach 3 be considerd as a potential adventure hike.
These requests were made at the same time American Whitewater was successfully arguing about opening the Chelan River and Gorge to whitewater rafting, an activity tht was finally approved and takes place every September on the river.
The trail requests were denied because of the PUD’s liability concerns. However, the PUD did provide a trail to the river that accessed the very upper section of Reach 1 and it is used by residents and visitors throughout the year.
The Lake Chelan Trails Alliance has taken on the development of trails in the Lake Chelan Valley, and the new Reach 1 trail will be a welcome addition to the valley.