Columbia Breaks

Fire Interpretive Center


The interpretive center began with the desire to save an old Forest Service fire lookout, by bringing it down from the mountains to an accessible spot along a well-traveled highway. In 1990, Nancy Belt, an assistant fire dispatcher for the Wenatchee National Forest, planted the seed for the project by earning a grant from the Forest Service to study the feasibility of the idea. As she gathered information and support for her proposal, the idea grew into much broader dream. With time and exposure, a foundation was formed and the vision expanded to that of a world-class fire interpretive center that would interpret the ecological role of fire and showcase the interactions of people with fire. With strong public support, the concept has flared to reality as the Columbia breaks Fire Interpretive Center continues to develop.

To date:

  • Firefighter Memorial Trail that recognizes all wildland firefighters who have lost their lives in fires on teh Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest

  • Added trail signs and presently planting an interpretive garden

  • 17 ½ acres of land has been purchased.

  • Three lookouts: Chelan Butte, Badger Mountain, and East Flattop Lookout (East Flattop Lookout is a one-of-a-kind structure modeled after a lookout once located SW of Mt. St. Helens on the Gifford Pinchot NF). All these lookouts have been moved to the site and restored.

  • An amphitheater with a portable stage.

  • An educational curriculum and video for teachers, along with a one-day training session, has been developed.

  • One informational kiosk has been built at the site, and another is near completion.

  • A 1/3 mile fire interpretive trail with informational signs about fire ecology, plant ecology, fire behavior, fire history, fire management, and people’s interactions with fire.

  • A 30’ X 60’ picnic/meeting shelter that will eventually be converted to a display center.