May 10 - 12, 2024
KEEN's 25 Blogs for 25 Years
Pre-Order Merch with Registration
The future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center rests on the ancestral lands of the Pshwánapam people (fourteen Confederated Tribes and
Bands of the Yakama Nation). The people of the Yakama Nation inhabited more than 12 million acres across Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin,
Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Yakima Counties. We honor those peoples who are tied to the land through history, legends, and culture. We acknowledge
their descendants who live in the world today. We thank the caretakers of this land, who have lived here and continue to live here since time immemorial.
An acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way to show respect, and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s
history and culture. It also honors the truth.
Join KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network) in May and discover the natural beauty of
Ellensburg, Kittitas County, and Central Washington State!
The Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) invites you to the 25th annual Get Intimate with the Shrub Steppe (GISS), a by-donation community event highlighting the endangered shrub-steppe habitat in Central Washington. The event starts Friday with an evening social gathering, Saturday is filled with expert guided field trips with birding, geology, snakes and reptiles, fish and river bugs, history, and more. Educational booths are set up with free educational materials and live animals, where we highlight affinity environmental and natural resource groups from around the state. Saturday evening brings a keynote speaker with a shrub-steppe focused theme. Sunday includes self-guided field trips and additional guided field trips into the shrub-steppe.
You can further support KEEN’s mission by registering for ticketed events like guided paddleboarding, a float trip down the Yakima River, attending the keynote speaker dinner with live music, or the wine tasting event. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of free events too, including wildflower and birding field trips, live adult lamprey release, planetarium shows, indoor presentations, and more! Sign up now, because some events have limited spots available!
KEEN's mission is to cultivate an active understanding of the impacts of climate change on the endangered shrub-steppe and foster commitment to environmental stewardship by providing culturally relevant nature-based education. We bring our best to this event; scientists, expert guides, and outdoor enthusiasts share their knowledge and passions with visitors from around the globe. With their expertise to guide you, you’re in for a weekend of fun and learning you’ll never forget. There’s so much incredible diversity in the shrub-steppe; it is just waiting for you to come and explore.
The Yakima River Canyon is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) with some of the highest densities of passerines and birds of prey in the State. The extensive cliffs, shrub-steppe, and riparian cottonwood forests provide a rich mixture of habitats for animals, plants, reptiles, and insects. Particularly important are the immense basalt cliffs and talus slopes interspersed with shrub-steppe vegetation, which support a diverse assemblage of birds associated with this habitat, including White-throated Swift, Cliff Swallow, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, and 21 species of raptors. Ten of these raptor species breed in and around the canyon, including two pairs of Golden Eagles and five pairs of Prairie Falcons.
The cliffs and shrub-steppe habitat also support populations of Big Horn Sheep, American Kestrels, Ground Squirrels, and Great-horned Owls. Up to 20 Bald Eagles winter along the river, subsisting primarily on whitefish. The riparian habitats along the river and its tributaries support a high diversity and abundance of beavers, and too many bird species to name including...Lazuli Bunting, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Say’s Phoebe, Williamson’s Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cedar Waxing, Northern Spotted Owl, and American Pelican.
Plan ahead! Some of our field trips require parking passes from state or federal entities. Umtanum & Selah need BLM Pass, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center & Ginkgo need WA Discover Pass, so be sure you are ready. Also, grab a hotel or campground reservation early - Ellensburg is very popular in the spring!