The Kittitas Environmental Education Network’s partnership with Helen McCabe Memorial State Park might be extending far into the future, after KEEN organizers met with state officials last week.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission owns Helen McCabe Memorial State Park just five miles south of Ellensburg on Thrall and Canyon Roads. Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) currently holds a 30-year lease to promote the Park and serve the public with high quality residential learning programs, habitat restoration, and public events. The lease includes the right to develop and manage the Park for the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center, envisioning it as a full-service, year round destination providing a diverse array of nature- and science- based experiences for people of all ages, backgrounds, skills, and interests.
KEEN is an established non-profit with a long history of financial and volunteer investment in Helen McCabe Park and intends to fund, design, construct, and operate the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center using a mixture of private and public funds.
KEEN has been working to raise funds to support the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center and knows that it will require significant investments of capital for construction and maintenance to be financially viable.
So last week, three members of KEEN’s Board of Directors, Jill Scheffer, Stefanie Wickstrom, and Gary Cox, traveled to Bremerton to meet with the State Parks Commission to update them on the status of the project and ask for extending the lease and partnership.
After listening to a short presentation, Commission members supported staff signing a new Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with KEEN to explore extending the lease. Milestones were identified for each party to achieve, which are the basis of this MOU. Both parties also recognize that the citizens of the state of Washington and visitors to Washington State Parks will benefit immensely from the preservation of the site and provision of quality services at Helen McCabe Park.
Both parties understand and agree that the milestones are not a test of each institution’s specific capacities so much as they are a demonstration of both institutions’ capacity to work collaboratively to preserve and sustain the extraordinary resource that is Helen McCabe Park, and to provide each visitor with the highest levels of customer service.
As a part of this agreement, KEEN developed a 5-year business plan outlining the plans, estimated costs, maintenance and operations of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center. The business plan is available online at www.ycic.org.
After the successful conclusion of this MOU, the Commission and KEEN intend to execute a long term lease and/or other binding long term contractual agreements for the management and operation of Helen McCabe Memorial State Park. These agreements will contain the terms and conditions that both parties mutually accept.