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State Fish & Wildlife Dept. Will File Court Appeal of Black Rock Estates Subdivision

Ahead of a months-end deadline, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said it will appeal a decision by the City of Wenatchee related to the proposed Black Rock Estates subdivision near Saddle Rock.

The department intends to file its appeal in Chelan County Superior Court this week, said regional director Jim Brown. He said they’re appealing the city’s hearing examiner’s denial of the department’s bid to require mitigation for impacts to mule deer from the 13-acre subdivision soon to get under development in the Wenatchee Foothills.

Brown said WDFW is concerned about the loss of prime mule deer habitat and the potential for human-wildlife conflicts resulting from the development, located above Skyline Drive within Wenatchee city limits.

Brown said the land under development for a subdivision is designated by the state as priority mule deer habitat and supports the largest herd of wintering mule deer in Chelan County.

Mitigation measures sought by Fish & Wildlife include:

  • Clustering development in order to maintain migration corridors for mule deer
  • Adding signage cautioning drivers to watch for deer
  • Installing deer fencing around the development to minimize human-deer interactions
  • Shielding lights to reduce glare and light
  • Using cattle guards across ungated driveways to keep deer out of yards
  • Installing native shrub-steppe vegetation to provide a functional strip of habitat
  • Requiring that pets be leashed when they’re outside fenced yards
  • Minimizing disturbance of vegetation on the property and controlling invasive and noxious weed species

A city hearing examiner denied WDFW’s mitigation request at a hearing Dec. 14, 2018, and again on reconsideration Jan. 7.

The city acknowledged WDFW’s priority habitat designation in its Mitigated Determination of Non-significance environmental statement for the Black Rock project, but Brown said the only mitigation it required was installation of a six-foot fence.

Brown said the city relied on the applicant’s mitigation plan, which relied on an outdated 2010 report to characterize the project site as a “low” priority area for mule-deer habitat. More recent information that reflects the significant impact of recent wildfires on that area, he said.

Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz joined Dan Langager on the KOHO Morning Show today to provide the city’s perspective on the latest with the ongoing issue.

 

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