The Chelan Butte is the iconic backdrop to the city of Chelan at the south end of the beautiful Lake Chelan Valley. While the lower portion of the Butte has been somewhat developed with residential and tourist housing, and more such development is expected in the coming years, the middle and upper portions are thus far largely undeveloped. The uppermost portions of the Butte are owned by public entities and will not be developed. However, a large portion of the mid- to upper-elevations of the Butte belong to two owners – approximately 900 acres owned by Golden Gate Ventures LC (GGV) and, just above this, about 400 acres owned by Daybreak Golf Founders LLC. Only the GGV properties are located within the Chelan city limits and are most likely to be developed in the near-term.
There are at least a couple of reasons why the preservation of the Butte is critical to protecting the local Chelan environment. First, keeping the Butte undeveloped protects the aesthetic environment surrounding Chelan, including preserving “dark skies” in the area. Second, the majority of the GGV properties are zoned for tourist accommodations, potentially allowing over 1,000 dwelling units associated with hotels and other types of short-term rentals, in addition to hundreds of residential homes on the remaining properties. This significant increase in the local population (both permanent and transient) will strain local infrastructure such as municipal water, sewer, transportation, and lake access. This in turn leads to decreases in water availability, air quality, lake water quality, and general livability.
Starting in 2022, the Chelan Basin Conservancy (CBC) has undertaken an effort to facilitate preservation of the majority of the GGV properties through public acquisition and maintenance. This would most likely require ownership of the land by the city of Chelan and long-term maintenance by the City and associated project partners utilizing a model similar to that used to acquire and maintain land in the Wenatchee foothills. CBC has engaged the Trust for Public Land and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust to help facilitate this project. RC3 has determined that this is a project worth supporting and will endeavor to assist with its success however possible.
Additional information about effort to preserve Chelan Butte can be found on the CBC website: chelanbasinconservancy.org.