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About KCT2018-10-02T22:23:09+00:00

Preserving the Forests and Rivers of the Upper Yakima River Basin

Steward Our Lands

Mission & History

MISSION

The mission of the Kittitas Conservation Trust (KCT) is to protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, open space, and recreational assets in the upper Yakima River basin.

HISTORY

Kittitas Conservation Trust (KCT) created out of a cooperative agreement between the Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Trendwest Investments, now called New Suncadia LLC. The purpose was to mitigate the development of the Suncadia Master Planned Resort by creating permanent protection through a KCT held conservation easement of over 1,200 acres of the Cle Elum River geomorphic floodplain that flows through the heart of the Suncadia resort.

Additional mitigation requirements include approximately 2,200 acres of conservation easements on natural and managed open space within of the resort and credited offsite mitigation of 1,500 acres of habitat restoration and protection. KCT was created with the vision of becoming a community-based land, water, and habitat conservation organization that builds upon public and private components to achieve positive outcomes for terrestrial and aquatic habitat conservation with a geographic focus on the upper Yakima River watershed.

Purpose of Kittitas Conservation Trust

Implement the terms of the Cooperative Agreement between Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Suncadia to further a policy of no net loss of fish and wildlife habitat:

– Acquire and own conservation easements and real property interests to protect fish and wildlife habitat, open space and scenic views
– Protect and enhance natural resource assets for the benefit of the public
– Acquire water rights to provide instream flows in the upper Yakima River and its tributaries
– Manage Trust property interests using land stewardship plans and Land Trust Alliance standards and practices
– Secure public and private fiscal support to achieve natural resource conservation goals

Board of Trustees

The Trust’s By-Laws specify that the governing board be comprised of three Trustees, each appointed by an original signatory of the Cooperative Agreement.

Jeff Tayer
Jeff TayerBoard President
Representing Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Former WDFW Region 3 Director
Yakima, WA
Paul Ward
Paul WardBoard Vice President
Representing the Yakama Nation
Fisheries Program Director
Yakama Nation

Toppenish, WA
Cape Powers
Cape PowersSecretary/Treasurer
Representing Suncadia LLC
Vice President of Construction and Utilities | Suncadia LLC
Cle Elum, WA

Staff

Mitchell Long

Mitch Long
Executive Director

Mitch Long joined KCT in August of 2012. He holds a Masters of Public Administration Degree from the University of Washington. He has worked for two tours with the Washington Conservation Corps, and as an Assistant Crew Supervisor he worked on a variety of conservation projects throughout the state of Washington. He worked for the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildland firefighter from 2003 – 2008. From 2008 – 2012 he worked with the City of Roslyn in Public Works specializing in Project Management of capital projects and managing the City’s 300+ acre community forest. Mitch served on the Roslyn City Council (2013-2017) and continues to work with the small community he lives in. When he’s not focused on ecosystem rehabilitation and protection, Mitch enjoys fishing, mountain biking, camping, playing the banjo, hiking, and traveling with his family and friends.

Melissa Speeg

Melissa Speeg
Outreach Coordinator

Melissa began working for KCT in April of 2018. Prior to working for KCT, she was a communications coordinator for a small non-profit supporting collaboration in the local community to advance healthy ecosystems, economic well-being and social vitality. Working for a small non-profit meant she had to be versatile and she contributed in numerous ways including grant writing, developing organization strategies, and reporting. Her diverse work experiences include being a backcountry ranger, ski patrol, bartender and challenge course facilitator and they have given her a unique perspective on people and their connection to the natural world.  They also showed her the tremendous importance of protecting the wild places around us. Some of Melissa’s favorite things to do are walking in the woods, eating berries, skiing, laughing and being silly with her kids.

Kittitas Conservation Trust Vision

We envision an upper Yakima River Basin community with dynamic ecosystems that sustain diverse habitats shared by all creatures.

Our Values

Conservation of natural open space
Restoration of critical habitats using natural physical processes
Preservation of ecosystems that support biodiversity
Stewardship of land and water assets to benefit the Yakima River Basin community
Education as a tool to connect people to nature
Partnerships that work synergistically for conservation outcomes

Accomplishments

For the past 15 years Kittitas Conservation Trust has been working to protect the important lands and habitat of the upper Yakima River Basin. KCT is the steward of over 3,500 acres in Kittitas County. We maintain and enhance the conservation values of our acquisition lands and provide recreational and educational access to the public where feasible.  In addition, we have protected over 4,000 acres through easement agreements. We hold some of these easements, while others we have created connections between landowners and agencies that resulted in an easement agreement.

Since 2002, KCT has completed 12 river restoration projects in the upper Yakima River Basin. Projects range from river, floodplain, riparian, wetland, and upland ecosystems and enhance habitat for a wide diversity of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. Our projects create vital habitat for native salmon and bull trout, which are endangered species, in addition to other wildlife dependent on these important areas. We have worked in places like the Cle Elum River, Coleman Creek, Currier Creek, Nelson Creek and Swauk Creek. You can learn more about these and other projects at our project page.

VIEW ALL PROJECTS

Our Partners

Our partners are part of what enable our success in conservation and restoration. Below are some of the organizations helping us get meaningful work done on the ground.

Support Conservation in the Upper Yakima River Basin

Become a steward of these important lands! With your help we can continue to protect the unique habitat and wildlife that make this place special to you!

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