Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe &
Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest

Friday May 13- Sunday May 15, 2022

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A free 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 other outreach materials and 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.

23rd   Anniversary!

Join KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network) in May and discover the natural beauty of
Ellensburg, Kittitas County, and Central Washington State!

 

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 dense populations of Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, 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 bird species, 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. Each field trip has the needed passes identified, so be sure you are ready. Also, grab a hotel reservation early - Ellensburg is popular in the spring!

 

Event Overview

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Friday May 13, 2022
GISS & YRCBF Social Evening 

This Land Is Part of Us: Washington's Shrub-Steppe Ecosystem
Short Film Viewing and Discussion Panel w/WDFW, Conservation Northwest and other project partners    
discussion and social/drinks & dinner on own.
The Pearl Bar & Grill - 6pm

Saturday May 14, 2022 9am-1pm Environmental & Conservation Booths
@ Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center
Kittitas Environmental Education Network, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center, Kittitas Audubon, Conservation Northwest, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, CWU Reptiles of our Shrub-Steppe, CWU Zooarchaeology Lab, Teanaway Community Forest, Ellensburg High School/CWU Small Creatures, Kittitas County Conservation District, CWU Museum of Culture & Environment,  Yakama Nation Pacific Lamprey Outreach Team, Cacti of the Shrub-Steppe, Trout Unlimited, Knox Cellars Mason Bees & Swarovski Optiks, WA Native Plants Society, Puget Sound Energy, Yakima Fly Fishers Trout Unlimited, Kids Activities, and more!  

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Saturday May 14, 2022 

6pm Keynote Speaker

Dr. Megan Walsh 


Bio: Dr. Walsh, Central Washington University, is a biogeographer and paleoecologist interested in the late Quaternary environments of western North America and Central America, specifically the role of fire on the landscape. Dr. Walsh uses high-resolution macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis to reconstruct past changes in fire activity and vegetation and evaluate their relationship with climatic variability and human activity. Research interests include Late Quaternary paleoecology and paleoclimatology; the role of fire in ecosystems of the western United States and Central America; (paleo)human/environment interactions; biogeographical impact of global climate change; and the application of paleoecological data to land-management policy.

Cornerstone Pie - Dinner/Drinks on own

Saturday May 14, 2022

7:30pm

Live Music with 

WAVESONS 




Cornerstone Pie - Dinner/Drinks on own

 

1. Friday
May 13

6pm

The Pearl Bar & Grill 

This Land is Part of Us — Film, Panel & Social Hour

The shrub-steppe of central Washington’s Columbia Basin is a land of rich biodiversity, vibrant communities and poignant beauty. It is a place both iconic and increasingly at-risk.

Here, at the northern extent of the great “Sagebrush Sea” that once sprawled across much of the American West, growing collaboration between agencies, Native American tribes, conservation organizations, local landowners and other partners seeks to preserve and restore shrub-steppe ecosystems while supporting cultural and economic values.

Despite impacts from severe wildfires and habitat fragmentation, recovery programs are underway to benefit many plants and wildlife species while efforts including the Arid Lands Initiative and Conservation Reserve Program foster constructive partnership for the future of Washington’s shrub-steppe.

For wildlife lovers, hunters and anglers, Indigenous peoples, farmers and ranchers, outdoor recreationists and so many others, this land is no desert devoid of life, This Land is Part of Us.

After the film, speakers and the production team will join the public for a panel discussion on conserving shrub-steppe habitats and answer questions from the audience.

Panel: Scott Downes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife;

Jordan Ryckman, Conservation Northwest; Ted Grudowski, Filmmaker.

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SATURDAY MAY 14

2. FIELD TRIP

6am-9am

 

@Umptanum Creek Recreation Area

Passerines & Raptors of the Yakima River Canyon with Deb Essman

Check out Ebird and you'll see that Deb Essman is always near (or at) the top! She's our bird whisperer - https://ebird.org/region/US-WA-037?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec - this will be the most amazing field trip!

3. FIELD TRIP

7am-11am

@ Whiskey Dick Recreation Area

Birds of the Shrub-Steppe with Scott Downes

Limit:  10 persons 

Walking field trip; duration 4 hours; drive to trailhead with private cars

Meet at: Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Trails Parking Area Vantage Hwy

Meet at 7am at the Ginkgo Trails Parking Area on the Vantage Hwy. From there we will caravan to Pumphouse Rd on the Lt Murray Wildlife Area a couple miles away. A discover pass is needed for parking on the wildlife area. We will spend a couple of hours hiking through the shrub-steppe, so hiking footwear, appropriate clothes and water is needed. Weather can be varied, be prepared for possible warm weather and sun protection. Ticks are a possibility, so be prepared.

We will experience the biology of shrub-steppe obligate songbirds, should get good looks at Sage Thrasher, Sagebrush Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow and other obligates. We will also look at shrub-steppe wildflowers. Expect a 1-2 mile hike. After we return to the cars, we will drive to Vantage to scope Columbia River waterbirds and look for Chukar, Rock and Canyon Wren. Expect a 4-hour trip.

Scott Downes downess@charter.net

4. FIELD TRIP

6am-9am

@Yakima Firing Center

Yakima Training Center Wildflowers, Wildlife, and People

Lisa Weigel & Bethany Mills will be covering sensitive and rare plants, sage grouse and other wildlife, culturally significant plants and historic land uses.

We must limit the group to 20 persons and request that folks carpool as much as possible. In the past, people have parked at the Ride & Share parking lot at the Chevron at Selah Exit, then condense into fewer vehicles to come onto base. 4WD or all wheel drive with good tires is preferred as the roads are pretty rough gravel in some sections. Lisa and Bethany will meet people at the gate, then lead them to our tour area. Please have anyone interested submit the requested information on the attached Access Roster. This is due by May 1st to give our YTC Police enough time to run the background checks before they enter the base. Anyone with felonies or warrants will NOT be allowed to enter. Everyone will need a Driver’s License and/or State ID on them. Drivers of vehicles will need license, registration, and current auto insurance. 18 and older require background checks and IDs. 17 and younger do not need background checks or IDs as long as they are with an adult chaperone. Please list their name only on the Access Roster and state “under 18” or “minor.”

5. EDUCATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BOOTHS

9AM-1PM

@Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

MARKETPLACE & EDUCATIONAL BOOTHS—COME SEE US!


LIVE RAPTORS, LIVE SNAKES AND REPTILES, KIDS ACTIVITIES, KYAKING ON THE POND, RIVER BUGS & FISH, PALEOARCHAEOLOGY, SWAROVSKI OPTICS, AND MORE!

Kittitas Environmental Education Network, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center, Kittitas Audubon, Conservation Northwest, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, CWU Reptiles of our Shrub-Steppe, CWU Zooarchaeology Lab, Yakama Nation Pacific Lamprey Outreach Team, Teanaway Community Forest, Ellensburg High School/CWU Small Creatures, Kittitas County Conservation District, CWU Museum of Culture & Environment, Cacti of the Shrub-Steppe, Trout Unlimited, Knox Cellars Mason Bees & Swarovski Optiks, WA Native Plants Society, Puget Sound Energy, Kids Activities, and more!

6. FIELD TRIP

9am-11pm

@Umptanum Creek Recreation Area

Beaver Tales with Dr. Lixing Sun

An easy hike up Umtanum Creek Canyon - learn how to look for signs of beavers, see how they work to restore floodplains and help the landscape recover from the devastating wildfire of 2020.

7. FIELD TRIP

9:30am-11:30am

@Umptanum Creek Recreation Area

Geology & Weather with Dr. Dale Beeson

 

Walking field trip with 2 hour duration:  This is a rocky steep uphill trail, 1.4 miles total distance roundtrip.  Drive to Umptanum Creek trailhead parking (BLM parking requires $5 day pass at site or America The Beautiful Pass) https://www.blm.gov/visit/yakima-river-canyon Meet at the parking side of the Yakima River suspension bridge.

We’ll cross the mighty Yakima River and understand the rivers power at land shaping.  But wait, what about the towering basalt cliffs above us?  What causes the varying shapes and patterns?  We’ll work our way up along the trail through geologic time to learn some of the secrets of the Columbia River Basalts.  What can the rocks tell us about “the before times”?  What do the Yellowstone area and our Yakima River Canyon have in common?  We’ll visit an ancient soil horizon overrun by a lava flow and see escaping gas bubbles frozen in time.  The stories that these rocks have to share are…..amazing!

8. FIELD TRIP

10:30am-1pm

@Selah Cliffs - Nature Area Preserve

Shrub-Steppe Native Plants with Ethan Coggins

Walking field trip, 1.5-2.5 hours, drive to trailhead in private vehicles. Discover pass is required, parking for about 6 vehicles.

Join us on a walk through Selah Cliffs Natural Area, where we will discuss native plants and ongoing restoration efforts in the area. We can expect to see resilient native plants like spiny hopsage, greasewood, sagebrush, and prickly pear cacti - as well as striking basalt cliffs with colorful lichen. The cliffs at this site are home to the rare basalt daisy, found only in Yakima canyon, and also provide homes for various bird species like prairie falcon. Other wildlife we may encounter include ticks and rattlesnakes, so good shoes and long pants + socks are recommended!

8.5 FIELD TRIP

11am-12pm

@Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

History & Restoration of Helen McCabe Memorial State Park (future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center) with Jill Scheffer

Who was Helen McCabe? What is the history of this state park? What are the plans for the future? The Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) has been caring for and restoring the habitat and making plans for future improvements since 2004. KEEN President, Jill Scheffer, will take an easy walking tour of the park and take a look at all the improvements, habitat restoration activities, and discuss the future of the park and the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center. 

9. FIELD TRIP

12pm - 1pm

@Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

Birding for Kids with Cedar Cunningham

Cedar Cunningham, a 5th grader and avid birder from Ellensburg, will lead this walking field trip for kids and families at the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center.  Cedar will teach kids about how to use binoculars, bird identification, and birds frequently seen at this site.  The group will take a walk around Helen McCabe and identify which birds we see.  This field trip is appropriate for kids of all ages, but kids younger than 8 need to be accompanied by an adult.  WA Discover Pass needed to park.

10. FIELD TRIP

12pm - 1pm

@Umptanum Creek Recreation Area

Wildflowers of the Shrub-Steppe with Linda Raubeson

An easy hike up Umptanum Creek Canyon to see how the wildflower seed stock survives wildfire and habitat damage. Look for arrow leaf balsam root, lupine, and other keystone species of the shrub-steppe.

10.5 FIELD TRIP

2pm-3:30pm

@Kittitas County Historical Museum

Downtown Historic Tour with Sadie Thayer, Kittitas County Historical Museum

Limit:  20 persons 

Walking field trip; duration 1-2 hours; drive to Museum with private cars

Meet at:     Kittitas County Historical Museum

                114 E 3rd Ave, Ellensburg   (at 3rd and Pine)

We meet in the Museum. Parking is available on streets around the Museum (no off-street parking available) 

This will be a walking field trip through the historic Downtown Ellensburg, at the center of Kittitas Valley. It requires walking on brick (or cement) sidewalks for approximately 75-90 minutes. It may also be windy, so please be prepared. Wear comfortable shoes, and carry water if needed.

Downtown Ellensburg was rebuilt after its Great Fire on July 4, 1889. Learn about how the community came to be, what happened on that fateful night, and how Ellensburg persevered. Find out what history hides in plain sight and what stories you can take away from this beautiful community.

Sadie Thayer, Museum Director, 509-925-3778

11. FIELD TRIP

12pm - 1pm

@Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

Bluebird Field Trip with Steve Moore & Jan Demorest

Limit:  8 persons 

Walking field trip; duration 3-4 hours; drive to trailhead with private cars

Meet at: Super 1 Foods parking lot ; 200 E Mountain View Ave, Ellensburg. We meet at the far west end of the lot  (away from store)

This will be a walking field trip through a sagebrush vale in the eastern part of Kittitas Valley.  It requires hiking off-trail (2+ miles), through brush and over stony rough ground.   Wear long pants that can be tucked into socks (tick season), and carry water. Mountain Bluebirds are attracted to nestboxes that have been placed at intervals along the route, and they will be building nests, guarding eggs, and feeding young chicks in early May.  We’ll also see and hear other sageland birds in good habitat including Sage Thrasher and Vesper, Brewer’s and Sagebrush Sparrows. 

11.5 FIELD TRIP

1pm - 3pm

@ Masterson Public Access

Adult Lamprey Teanaway River Release (Yakama Nation Pacific Lamprey Project)

Limit:  50 persons

Arrive at destination, walk to the river field trip; duration 1-2 hours; drive to destination with private car       

This will be a short walk to the river from the road field trip to release adult Pacific Lamprey into the Teanaway River with Tyler Beals (Yakama Nation Lamprey Biologist II). Tyler will give a talk about our Projects history and overview, lamprey life cycle, traditional significance, larval habitat surveys, and adult translocation.

Dave’y Lumley (509) 480-8596

Tyler Beals (509) 831-2267  

12. FIELD TRIP

1:30pm

@Umptanum Creek Recreation Area

See the Birds & Wildlife of the Yakima River Canyon by river float with Rill Adventures

$25 to Rill Adventures due upon registration

Participants will meet at the Umtanum Recreation site at 1:30. The guides will maneuver the raft from the rear of the raft with a rowing frame, leaving you plenty of time to look for birds, check out bugs and listen to the information that your river guides know. We’re also partnering with other trip leaders who will bring a wealth of knowledge about the Yakima River geology, birds and bugs. Bring your binoculars!

Trip time approx 2.5 hours ; Minimum age: 4

13. KEYNOTE SPEAKER & LIVE MUSIC

6pm-9:00pm

@Cornerstone Pie

Keynote Speaker - Dr. Megan Walsh

Live Music with Wavesons

Bio: Dr. Walsh, Central Washington University, is a biogeographer and paleoecologist interested in the late Quaternary environments of western North America and Central America, specifically the role of fire on the landscape. Dr. Walsh uses high-resolution macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis to reconstruct past changes in fire activity and vegetation and evaluate their relationship with climatic variability and human activity. Research interests include Late Quaternary paleoecology and paleoclimatology; the role of fire in ecosystems of the western United States and Central America; (paleo)human/environment interactions; biogeographical impact of global climate change; and the application of paleoecological data to land-management policy.

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SUNDAY MAY 15

14. FIELD TRIP

7:30am-11am

Various Locations

Raptors of Kittitas County with Deb Essman and Jerry Scoville

15. FIELD TRIP

10am-12pm


@Gingko Petrified Forest & Trails

Trailside Museum & Trees of Stone with Keyna Burger

 

Walking field trip; duration 2 hours;

Meet at Trailside Museum Trailhead on Old Vantage Highway. 

From Ellensburg drive east on Interstate 90 to exit 136 for Huntzinger Road. Take this exit, then turn left and drive 2.5 miles past Vantage to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Trails parking lot. Signs guide you along the way. Facilities are available at the trailhead.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, near Vantage, is known for its petrified wood, but it also has excellent examples of shrub-steppe habitat. We will walk the 3 mile trail and see a number of different species of desert-parsley (Lomatium), phlox, and desert-buckwheat (Eriogonum); along with Carey's and Hooker's balsamroot, lupine, and other spring blooming wildflowers.

Drivers will need a Discover Pass.

Plant List: www.wnps.org/plant-lists/list?Rocky_Coulee

 

Keyna Bugner- keynabugner@gmail.com; 620-803-2382

16. FIELD TRIP

10am-9pm

@Wildhorse Wind & Solar Facility

ACTIVITIES AT WILDHORSE WIND FARM & VISITORS CENTER
 

Choose one or more of these activities and enjoy one of the best places to see shrub-steppe habitat and wildflowers in Kittitas County!

10-11am  Wind Turbine Tour 

2-3pm  Wind Turbine Tour 

3-3:30pm  Wildflower and Wind Power Presentation 

3:30-5pm  Wildflower and Wind Power Walk 

5:00pm Wind Turbine Tour 

6:15-8pm  Wildflower and Wind Power Walk

8-9pm  Full Flower Moon Program

17. Self-Guided Birding Tour

@ Irene Reinhart Riverfront Park

Self Guided Birding Tour

Take a self guided Birding Tour at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park near the heart of Ellensburg!  All that is needed is to download the Adventure Lab app on your phone, which will guide you through the tour: https://labs.geocaching.com/goto/0d751f70-ee81-4f4c-a9ad-fd05a53657a7

 

Tour Description: Take a birding tour of Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park and the Reecer Creek Floodplain, where over 160 bird species have been observed. This adventure visits five different habitats that host a diverse population of birds. Learn about which birds can commonly be seen at different times of the year, and see them yourself!

 

The birds are most active in the early morning. Consider downloading the app Merlin, which helps with visual and sound bird identification. For information on species occurrence visit: https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L884476&yr=all&m= 

 

Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park is a 117 acre park adjacent to the Yakima River. You can access the park from Umptanum Road and walk a trail along the Yakima River, or from late spring to early fall the ponds can be accessed by road. Alternatively, the Reecer Creek Floodplain can be accessed from Rotary Park. There is a walkway that runs under interstate 90 that connects the Reecer Creek Floodplain and Irene Reinhart Riverfront Park. 

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Event Sponsors

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