Archive for April, 2012


Ellensburg Daily Record: Umtanum Canyon: A springtime treat for area hikers

by Dick Ambrose

Ellensburg Daily Record

April 27, 2010

I’ll never forget the first time I set foot in Umtanum Canyon. I was visiting my wife to be, Katie. Her family took me to the canyon. It was early March, but the canyon was already starting to green up. I saw my first ever sagebrush buttercup, its waxy yellow blossoms gleaming in the bright sunlight. I stood in awe of the black basalt cliffs that rose into the sky; colored with a variety of orange, yellow, grey and black lichens. I was hooked on sagebrush country from that time on.

The birds

We spotted a variety of birds and watched several deer on the hillside looking at us intently. Many animals make their home in the canyon and surrounding country. Elk, deer, mountain sheep and coyotes are often spotted. Audubon Society has given Umtanum Creek a special designation because of the diversity of birds that can be found in this riparian zone. Nesting on the basalt cliffs are falcons and golden eagles. Also look for the uncommon and brightly colored lazuli buntings. Lewis woodpeckers, bullock’s orioles and mountain bluebirds also can be seen, so do not forget your binoculars. Beavers have also found a good home in the canyon. You most likely will not see them, but you will certainly see their activity.

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Yakima Herald-Republic: National recreation area plan a natural fit or folly?

By David Lester

Yakima Herald-Republic

April 17, 2012

CLE ELUM, Wash. — It’s hard to imagine an issue as controversial as the long-discussed expansion of Bumping Lake, part of a broad proposal to secure a better water future for the Yakima Valley.

But now rivaling Bumping is a proposal — also part of that water plan — to create 140,000 acres of national recreation areas in two locations on either side of Interstate 90 near Cle Elum.

National recreation areas are federal designations that generally promote activities like boating and snowmobiling but can also preserve areas as wilderness with no development.

On the other side, a smaller group of conservation organizations favors the proposal as part of a broader land management concept including wild and scenic river designations and the purchase of 70,000 acres of private lands in the Teanaway, Little Naches, and the Yakima River Canyon.

Placing those lands under public ownership is seen as a way to assure health of the river system that serves the Yakima Valley.

Helping Kittitas County

The national recreation areas suggestion is designed to address Kittitas County’s concerns about the loss of private land from the tax rolls and to provide flexibility in managing a variety of recreation offered on public lands.

Kittitas County commissioners are on board with the recreation area concept and the overall land conservation goals. Commissioner Paul Jewell said the designation recognizes how the land is already used.

“It’s a level of guarantee that land will be available and will be managed for that use,” Jewell argued. “The designation has the potential to create more notoriety, more opportunity and benefit to Kittitas County in that it attracts more users. They spend time recreating and supporting jobs in our county.”

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Ellensburg Daily Record: U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert visits Kittitas County following redistricting

Ellensburg Daily Record

April 13, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert may be a political newcomer in the rural areas east of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, but the 8th District congressman is quickly getting up to speed on Eastern Washington issues.

A redistricting plan approved in the Washington State Legislature this year reconfigured the district to take in Kittitas County, Chelan County and East Wenatchee in Douglas County, along with parts of Pierce and King counties. Reichert, R-Auburn, has represented the district since 2005.

Yakima Basin water

He said he is quickly getting up to speed on the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, a $5 billion proposal to increase water supplies, boost reservoir storage, improve fish passage and habitat, and preserve watershed areas in Kittitas, Yakima and Benton counties.

“We’re going to become engaged further in this,” Reichert said. “We have had some discussions with (4th Congressional District representative Doc Hastings’) office regarding this, so we’re just really at the tip of the iceberg for us regarding this one. We know that it’s a project that people in this community have been working on for years, and years, and years, and it’s one that continues on.”

Reichert said having two congressmen concerned with the issue could serve as an advantage when agencies seek funding for the project.

“You’ll have two loud voices with (Hastings) and myself working together on this thing,” Reichert said.

Reichert said he will need to research what methods have already been used in attempts to secure funding for the Yakima Basin project before he can take his own steps toward soliciting any federal funding.

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Public News Service: Yakima Basin Water Plan Inches Forward

By Chris Thomas
Public News Service

April 5, 2012

YAKIMA, Wash. – It has been years in the making, but a plan to create a more stable water supply for drought-prone central Washington is ready for its public debut. The three counties involved – Benton, Kittitas and Yakima – have all said they’re on board.

The Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan outlines increased water storage, greater water conservation efforts and more, with a total price tag of at least $4 billion. After 30 years of studying the water supply problems, taking action is no longer optional, says Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell.

“We look at it as a necessity – not just from irrigators and cropland, although that’s a very important part, but also from a municipal and domestic rural supply – because those are challenges that we face today in our basin. And those are only going to get worse.”

“We sat down and worked out some things that we thought might be of benefit to the citizens of Kittitas County, that could help offset potentially some of the concerns that we have with adding to more public land within our county – and one of those was the NRA designation.”

He says the hold-up now will be figuring out how to pay for the plan, when state and federal funds are tight. But having gained such wide approval – from counties and farmers, to the Yakama Nation and conservation groups – could make that a little easier.

“I think that is monumental, and that’s being recognized, at both the state and federal levels. I think with that spirit of collaboration and cooperation, we’re going to be successful. But it’s going to take some time.”

Jewell says the next step is to discuss the timeline for the plan with local residents.

The plan is online at


Yakima Herald-Republic: It’s time to push plan to improve water storage

By Editorial Board

Yakima Herald-Republic

This editorial published on Sunday, March 11, 2012

Decades of talk preceded the current plan on the Yakima River Basin water supply, and two years of proposals, counterproposals, communication and compromise have brought us to this point. Now the real work lies ahead in assuring the basin will have enough water to meet its future needs.

Earlier this month, state and federal officials issued a final environmental report on a multifaceted plan to increase water storage, accommodate fish and preserve land. The compromises have brought many parties on board: agriculture, irrigators, the Yakama Nation, fishing interests, many environmental groups, local and county governments, Gov. Chris Gregoire and federal Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

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Fish. Families. Farms.
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