Trendwest Resorts, Inc. (now Suncadia LLC) purchased over 6,000 acres from Plum Creek Timber Company in the late 1990s to create a master resort. The purchase raised concern that the development would negatively impact wildlife and habitat. Of particular concern were the Cle Elum floodplain and wintering grounds for elk. As a result, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Yakama Nation entered into negotiations with Trendwest to protect and conserve fish and wildlife. They pursued a “no net loss” policy of healthy fish and wildlife habitat in connection with development on the property. The Yakama Nation was also concerned about the treaty-protected interests they had on the property.
The result was the Cooperative Agreement and the formation of Kittitas Conservation Trust (initially called MountainStar Conservation Trust). The Cooperative Agreement addresses the impacts associated with development in Suncadia by providing both on-site preservation of open space and habitat restoration and off-site actions and enhancements. The three parties created Kittitas Conservation Trust to hold in perpetuity the conservation easements identified in the Cooperative Agreement.
Today, KCT manages easements on 3,430 acres in Suncadia comprising of the Cle Elum River corridor and managed and natural open space. KCT monitors and enforces compliance with restrictions contained in the conservation easements. Activities in these areas are restricted to recreation and education. Furthermore, KCT undertakes additional activities to protect and enhance easement lands including working with Suncadia staff to develop prescriptions to maintain forest health and conducting restoration projects in the Cle Elum River corridor to enhance riparian habitat.