My great-great grandpa and grandma came to Chelan over a hundred years ago.  Their generation and those that followed had it rough.   By the time the chores were finished at night and the family was fed there wasn’t much left in terms of time and money.

They and their generation didn’t have the margin to consider lofty ideas such as ‘open space’.  As a result, five generations later, we have a valley with scant public access to Lake Chelan.   Can I fault my great-great Grandpa Frank Lucas?  Or his son-in-law Ray O’Neal?  Not really.  I know enough of their farming lifestyle to know they had their hands full.

But the recognition that we missed the mark a hundred years ago in planning for our future motivates me today.  While we may have missed the best chances in terms of lake access, there still exist many opportunities in terms of our foothills.  The Chelan Butte, Deer Mountain, Bear Mountain, Fourth of July Mountain – all of these iconic peaks that ring the lower lake basin could be incredible recreational and conservational resources for the generations to follow.

That is, if we had a plan. 

Luckily, the Trust for Public Land, a national organization who has been assisting communities like ours for decades has teamed up with the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance, the City of Chelan, and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust to lead the community in just such a planning process.  It is called the Lake Chelan Community Open Space Vision, and we need your input, your voice to craft the way ahead. 

There are two easy steps you can take to make sure your voice is heard.  First, go online and take a five-minute survey.   It will provide baseline input for the project team.  And second, attend the first Open Space Vision stakeholder meeting on October 5th at 5:30 p.m., in the City of Chelan Council Chambers.  At this meeting you will hear the results of the survey and see some of the initial maps defining the project bounds. 

In both the survey and the first stakeholder meeting, you will be able to weigh in on questions such as:

·      Where should we devote our time and resources as a community in the years to come as it relates to open space? 

·      Should we focus on the water quality of Lake Chelan? 

·      Should we secure access and create trails to some of the iconic peaks mentioned above? 

·      Should we improve the few remaining options for public access to the lake? 

·      What about farmland?  Should we strive to preserve our fertile soils?

We need your voice to ensure the community’s efforts in the years to come are in line with our collective intent.

I’m proud of our valley’s evolution and proud of our heritage.   We live and play in a blessed part of the world, but it can be tempting to just keep on living and playing.  The time has come to craft a comprehensive vision for our open spaces.  Someday our own descendants will refer to us as great-grandpa and grandma.  Let’s leave them a legacy of merit. 

Please take the survey and show up on October 5th.

Guy Evans is a founding member of the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance.