Thursday, April 18, 2024

Chelan council issues proclamation supporting Stehekin staffing

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CHELAN—The city council doubled down on its support of full National Park Service (NPS) staffing at the Golden West Visitor Center with a proclamation issued to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and National Park Service Director Charles F. Sams III.

During the regular bi-monthly council meeting on March 12, Mayor Erin McCardle read the proclamation as follows:

Whereas, the Stehekin River watershed encompasses some of the most unique and dramatic scenery and precious wilderness ecology in the State of Washington; and

 

Whereas, the community and private businesses of the Stehekin Valley are dedicated to providing visitors drawn to this area with a safe and enriching experience throughout the valley; and

 

Whereas, this area has been entrusted to the stewardship of the National Park Service in the form of the North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan Recreation Area “In order to provide for the public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment of portions of the Stehekin River and Lake Chelan…”; and

 

Whereas, the Community of Stehekin is the primary gateway to the North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan Recreation Area; and

 

Whereas, thousands of visitors will embark on the 55 mile transit of Lake Chelan from the City of Chelan to Stehekin, this year; and

 

Whereas, many visitors to Stehekin pause in the City of Chelan for lodging, shopping, and hospitality linking our economies; and

 

Whereas, the National Park Service (NPS) has announced plans to eliminate ranger staffing in Stehekin this year; and

 

Whereas, ranger staffing has been available in Stehekin for 55 years; and

 

Whereas, due to the elimination of NPS ranger staffing there will be no rangers to greet visitors, give directions, point out trailheads, issue camping permits, explain the hazards of a wilderness experience, direct visitors to bathrooms, or assist with emergencies; and

 

Whereas, the Golden West Visitor Center will not be staffed, and visitors will be unable to learn from the exhibits there, curated by local artists and experts, which foster appreciation for the culture, ecology, local wildlife and natural history; therefore

 

Now be it resolved that The City of Chelan proclaims the importance of NPS staffing in the communities of Stehekin and Chelan and encourages Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and National Park Service Director Charles F. Sams III to ensure that the park meets it obligation to fulfill its mission and fully staff Stehekin this summer.

 

Dated this 12th day of March in the year 2024.

The NPS made its staff reduction earlier this year and has been hearing from residents and groups opposing that decision. A petition circulated by the North Cascades Conservation Council gathered nearly 800 signatures of support.

Council member Tim Hollingsworth, serving as Mayor Pro-Tem at the Feb. 27 council meeting, brought the issue to the council’s attention. Characterizing Chelan as “the gatekeeper of the valley” Hollingsworth encouraged the council to draft a response.

“It’s very disappointing that they are not fulfilling their responsibilities up there,” said Hollingsworth. “They need to be encouraged to live up to that obligation.”

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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