Celebrating the Protection of Washington’s Teanaway River!
Washington state’s picturesque Teanaway River Valley — home to wolves, elk, salmon, and steelhead trout as well as limitless hiking, mountain biking, backcountry skiing and fishing opportunities – is permanently protected from development as of October 1st. Instead of facing a future of resorts and ranchettes, over 50,000 acres of mixed ponderosa pine forest, foothills, and salmon streams only 90 miles east of Seattle will now be publicly owned by the State of Washington.
The Teanaway watershed will be managed as a Community Forest focused on conservation, restoration, recreation, and sustainable forestry. The land will be owned by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and jointly managed by DNR and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The watershed will not only be protected, its floodplain and meadow habitat will be restored to allow for additional natural storage of rain and melting snow. This will help soak up flood waters and provide better habitat for chinook, coho, and steelhead at the same time it provides more water to downstream farms when it’s needed in late summer.
It was wonderful to celebrate the Teanaway, its protection, and its future at an October 2nd ceremony dedicating the watershed to public ownership. American Rivers is honored to have played an important role in the Teanaway’s preservation by advocating – along with the National Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, the Yakama Nation, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife – to include protection for the Teanaway as part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.
Leadership and vision on behalf of the land trust Forterra was critical to acquiring the land and transferring it to the public. And securing the future of the Teanaway also depended on the leadership of a bipartisan group of state leaders, including Governor Jay Inslee, State Senators Jim Honeyford and Sharon Nelson, and State Representatives Hans Dunshee and Judy Warnick, as well as Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson, Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and Derek Sandison at Ecology’s Office of the Columbia River.
Other organizations and activists, including the Washington Forest Law Center and Futurewise, have kept the preservation of the Teanaway in play over the years by saving the valley’s spotted owl habitat from logging and slowing down development proposals.
Starting with the acquisition and protection of the Teanaway Valley and important water conservation projects like one currently underway on Manastash Creek, the Yakima Plan is already improving water management and restoring salmon and steelhead throughout the Yakima River Basin. The next round of projects will center on providing fish passage for salmon and steelhead at Cle Elum Dam – which will lead to the reestablishment of a large sockeye salmon run – and accessing more of the water already stored behind Kachess Dam for the benefit of downstream farms and flows for fish.
For more information on the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, please visit our Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign web page.