OKANOGAN NATIONAL FOREST
OKANOGAN NATIONAL FOREST
1240 South Second Avenue
Okanogan, Washington 98840
Located in northern Washington State, lies the 1,706,000 acre Okanogan National Forest that includes the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness. Vegetation in the forest varies with grass and shrubs in the lowest elevations near the Columbia River, to the beautiful Ponderosa Pine at mid-elevations, to the Douglas-Fir in the Cascade Mountains, and the Subalpine and Alpine zones at elevations above 6000 feet. The highest peak is North Gardner Mountain at 8974 feet, with many other peaks above 7000 feet. Moderate daytime temperatures and cool nights characterize the climate during the summer; during the winter, sub-zero night time temperatures are not unusual, but days are frequently sunny.
The Okanogan National Forest owes its origin to the "Washington's Birthday Reserves" proclamation signed on February 22, 1897, by President Grover Cleveland. This proclamation created 13 forest reserves covering 21 million acres in the western states (Mark Deleon). This proclamation preceded the Organic Act of 1897, which provided for administration and protection of the reserves. The earlier Forest Reserve Act of 1891 [the Act of March 3, 1891] merely allowed the president to set aside reserves from the public domain. One of these reserves, at the time under the jurisdiction of the General Land Office in the US Department of the Interior, covered both sides of the Cascade Mountains and included what is now the Okanogan, Wenatchee, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualamie national forests.The Washington Forest Reserve was headquartered for a short time in Everett, then Tacoma, and then, in turn, jurisdiction was established on individual proclaimed forests.
Then in 1911, that part of the Chelan National Forest lying in Okanogan County was recast as the Okanogan National Forest, with headquarters in Okanogan, while the Chelan National Forest continued to occupy the Lake Chelan and Entiat watersheds. At or around the time of the separation of the two forests, ranger districts were geographical entities with rather flexible boundaries and headquarters' locations (i.e., ranger stations). On the Chelan, the districts were the Entiat, the Sawtooth, and the Lake Chelan, with headquarters at Selico, Deer Point and Chelan, and twenty-five Mile respectively.
In 1921, by proclamation dated December 1920, the Okanogan and Chelan forests were again combined as the Chelan National Forest. Its office was in the First National Bank Building, which is now the Rawsons Building on Second Avenue in Okanogan. At the same time, the Entiat Ranger District joined the Wenatchee National Forest.
With the merger of the Squaw Creek district back into the Twisp district in about 1930, relocating the Winthrop district's headquarters from Eight Mile Ranger Station to the town of Winthrop in 1918, and carving the Pasayten Ranger District from Winthrop in 1936, the Chelan National Forest by the beginning of World War II was still a far-flung administrative entity. When the supervisor's office moved to the new Federal Building (Okanogan Post Office) in 1940, the ranger districts were housed at Conconully, Early Winters (Pasayten), Winthrop, Twisp, Chelan, and Stehekin.
On January 1, 1955, the Chelan Ranger District was assigned to the Wenatchee National Forest, a loss that included the name of the forest, now known again as the Okanogan National Forest. To avoid confusion, the Okanogan Ranger District was renamed Conconully.
The Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness was designated with the passage of the Washington Wilderness Act of 1984, on lands occupied by the old Chelan Division of the Washington Forest Reserve, now part of both the Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests.
In 1982, the Conconully district was consolidated with the Tonasket district, forest with 3 ranger districts-Tonasket, Twisp, and Winthrop-and the North Cascades Smokejumper Base.
In 1998, the Winthrop and Twisp ranger districts were consolidated and renamed the Methow Valley Ranger District.
2000 - The Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests consolidated into one administrative unit. The headquarters office is located in Wenatchee, Washington. The Okanogan Valley Office located in Okangan, Washington is a subunit of the headquarter.